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Florida Students Choose Sugar Daddies Over Loan Debt, According to New Study

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The numbers on student loan debt are pretty grim. Forty-four million Americans owe a total of $1.48 trillion, and the average class of 2016 grad is saddled with $37,172 in debt. But don't worry, ladies, because Seeking Arrangement has a solution for you: sugar daddies!

The site, which facilitates what it calls "mutually beneficial relationships," pitches itself as an obvious fix for the nation's crisis of student loan debt. On a "Sugar Baby University" page that leads with a debt ticker, Seeking Arrangement asks, "Why be on the wrong end of the bell curve?" 

About a third of sugar babies are college students, and Florida schools dominate a list of those seeing the highest number of new signups. Florida International University came in ninth (220 new signups), followed by Florida State at 11th (202), the University of South Florida at 13th (176), and the University of Central Florida at 17th (169).

If the perks of finding "a mentor" and dating "experienced men" weren't enough for a savvy student, the company also offers free memberships. "Becoming a Sugar Baby allows a student to avoid becoming another slave to student loan debt," the site boasts.

Florida Students Choose Sugar Daddies Over Loan Debt, According to New Study

It would seem to be a sorry state of affairs when a college student has to choose between massive debt and sleeping with a rich old dude for cash, but Seeking Arrangement spokesperson Brook Urick says, actually, that's not what the company is about.

"It's different than being given money for sex, because a sugar daddy is not going to pay your tuition and pay for your apartment because you had sex with them," she says. "That's not how it works, unfortunately. It's because of the relationship. A sugar daddy is going to be generous to somebody he cares about and somebody who cares about him."

In fact, Urick claims, some sugar babies use the site as a way to make professional connections or find investors, using dinner dates to pick the brains of Goldman Sachs execs, for instance. And though these relationships aren't destined for marriage, they can still be long-lasting, she says.

On the other hand, sugar daddies, who are outnumbered four to one by babies on the site, often like college students because they're smart, ambitious, and trying to better themselves, Urick says.

Yes, Seeking Arrangement is all about relationships; in fact, relationships "on your terms" is its tag line. But even Urick acknowledges, "Most of them are romantic, and if they are romantic, they are usually intimate."

Mariah, a 21-year-old sugar baby at the University of South Florida whose name New Times agreed to change, says she signed up as a freshman because it seemed like an easy way to make some money. Since then, she says, three sugar daddies have spent an estimated $5,000 on gifts for her, including a Gucci tracksuit and snakeskin Jimmy Choo heels that are "too beautiful to wear."

Though she occasionally receives messages offering $1,000 for a night with her, she turns that kind of thing down. "I just look at that as prostitution, obviously," she says.

"I think of it as a relationship, and if you're into a relationship like with a boyfriend, you guys go on dates, you guys do things for each other, he buys stuff, you guys buy things for each other," Mariah explains. "It's just different because this person has a lot of money."

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