With the cost of college tuition having risen 60 percent over the last decade, some local students are coming up with unconventional financing.
A website called Seeking Arrangement matches wealthy men with women, often young. Those men are willing to shower their dates with gifts and even cash. Cash which can be applied to tuition.
In fact, college students make up 42 percent of the website's users.
"It's mutually beneficial from my point of view – financially, and from a man's point of view, maybe they'll find a companion," said website user and UNLV student Nicolle Collin.
Collin, whom the site refers to as a "sugar baby," is one of 76 UNLV students who use the website for gifts, lavish trips and money for school. Collin has been a member for five months and said she typically goes on one date a week with a "sugar daddy."
"I have gotten gifts before. I have gotten cash for just going to meet someone for dinner," Collin said.
Collin is in her final semester at UNLV and is thinking about graduate school.
"It would definitely put a relief on my having to work two jobs at a time or having a really hectic life, having to pay for all this stuff," she said.
The website has about 3 million users worldwide. One million of those are college students. Membership at UNLV has increased by 58 percent in the last year.
Website founder and CEO Brandon Wade said Seeking Arrangement is about the honesty of women who want to be spoiled, and the many well-off men willing to accommodate them.
"When we surveyed our site, we found that roughly 80 percent of those who formed relationships on the website are actually in a committed relationship," Wade said.
UNLV women's studies professor Lynn Comella said that in her many years of teaching, she's seen students resort to driving cabs or stripping to pay for school.
"It's less about women's place in society and more about inaccessibility and, increasingly, getting a college degree," Comella said.
Comella said a potential drawback of the website is what might be expected of "sugar babies" after receiving a gift.
"One thing that often happens in gifting scenarios is that the person who is receiving the gift feels thankful, feels indebted – they might feel like they have to do something to thank that person for being kind or giving them some sort of gift," she said. "That expectation can sometimes put pressure on people, particularly young women, to possibly do things that maybe they don't want to do at the end of the date."
"Sugar babies" can be members of the website for free while "sugar daddies" must pay $60 per month. Women can be "sugar mommas" for younger men looking for the same arrangement.
Wade insisted the website does not function as an escort service, and that anyone using it in that manner is kicked off.
Copyright 2014 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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