With the high cost of college, now more than ever, college students are turning to a controversial website for help with tuition.
Seekingarrangement.com counts many San Diego women as members who sign up to find a "Sugar Daddy" to pay for their education.
UCSD was named one of the fastest growing schools for "sugar babies." According to the website, within the last year, the number of female members attending UCSD has jumped 338 percent. The college is ranked 69th out of 75 schools.
These are mostly women looking for a free ride through college, and many men are willing to pay. Lauren, a 22-year-old student at San Diego State University is currently using the site. She didn’t want to be identified, but said she’s practically getting a full-rid, courtesty of her Sugar Daddy.
Her so-called Sugar Daddy lives halfway around the world and pays her $3,000 a month.
“He's a 63-year-old man who owns his own business,” Lauren said. “He owns a soccer team out in West Africa.”
They met online a year and a half ago via seekingarrangement.com. The website is a social network dedicated to connecting people who want a relationship where compensation is key. Both Sugar Daddies and Sugar Babies create profiles. The Sugar Daddies include how much they make per year, plus a budget for his Sugar Baby.
“I paid my car off. Most of my school loans I paid. Child care is paid. Anything. Bills. All of it is taken care of,” Lauren said.
Brandon Wade is the founder and CEO of the website. He says these arrangements are not prostitution.
“There's really nothing wrong with spending money to pamper someone or even helping them out,” he said. “This is purely a romantic relationship. We do not allow escorts or prostitutes to use the website. Exchange of money for sex is prostitution and that's not legal.”
Lauren says she hasn't slept with her Sugar Daddy even though they've met several times on vacations. She says he has no family to share his wealth with, so instead, Lauren says he gives it to her as a mentor.
“He doesn't make me feel like I need to repay him in sexual favors,” she said.
Lauren said she plans on moving for dental school in the fall and wants a better future for her 3-year-old son. She works two jobs while getting her monthly Sugar Daddy payment.
“I feel like maybe other single mothers in my case would judge me because of what I'm doing,” she said. “But I'm doing what I need to do to support myself and my son.”
But even Lauren admits: the perks don't hurt either.
“We go shopping all the time. Walk in the store, anything you want you got it,” she said.
And she prefers her lifestyle over that of her peers at SDSU.
“I know that I'm getting mine, while they're still eating cup o' noodles,” she said.
UCSD did not respond to a request for a comment. SDSU had no comment.