Sara Routhier, Managing Editor of Features and Outreach, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming worl...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 16, 2012

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How far would you go to relieve yourself of student loan debt? Most would likely agree that a good starting point would be to get a job… maybe forego unnecessary “wants” and focus exclusively on purchasing food, shelter, and clothing—sticking only to one’s “needs.” But would it be acceptable if a student making their way through college not only stuck to their own basic necessities, but also satisfied somebody else’s needs?

 

And we’re not talking about charitably buying somebody else food and water. We’re on the subject of the more… carnal needs.

 

That’s the limit some students are finding themselves crossing, as they fail to make timely payments on their student loan debt, and, as a result, see no way out of a growing hole of interest. Today’s students, particularly of the female variety, are turning to websites such as SeekingArrangement.com, which prides itself as a service specializing in providing females with “college tuition sugar daddies” in order to pay off their student loans.

 

“Dating for Dollars”

 

The world of online dating is nothing new: from the moment chat rooms emerged online, individuals who were connected to each other by nothing more than an internet signal have been talking, getting to know one another, and arranging real-life meetings. In no time at all, websites dedicated solely to arranging dating relationships sprung to existence. This industry that began with broad sites to match individuals of all types and ages, such as Match.com, soon became a much narrower field, targeting individuals of very specific interests. Some of the more unique sites include:

  • www.DarwinDating.com, made “only for beautiful people”
  • TrekPassions.com, that serves as a dating playground for Star Trek fans
  • TheAtlasSphere.com, a meeting place for fans of Ayn Rand novels and philosophy
  • DateCraft.com, that caters to gamers in a World of Warcraft-esque community
  • VampirePassions.com, a dating website where those who love vampires can come together—likely spawned by the fairly recent Twilight craze

But aside from interest-specific websites, there’s a new type of dating website that’s emerging as well: the kind where those suffering from student loan debt can appeal to those with money. Treading a very fine line between what’s legal and what’s not, sites like WhatsYourPrice.com and SeekingArrangement.com are allowing users to bid on each other, granting a first date to the highest payer. The creator of these two websites, Brandon Wade, a self-described “nerd” from MIT, calls this process “Dating for Dollars.”

 

Despite the money echange though, Wade claims his sites’ services aren’t soliciting prostitution. Instead, he claims they’re giving those who are “socially awkward” and willing to spend money a chance to get a date.

 

Forget Predatory Lenders, Worry About Predatory Payers

 

Given the spawning of such niche online dating comminutes, it seemed only a matter of time before something like this emerged. Student loan debt has been rocketing out of control, and both graduates and current college-goers have been trying to figure out how they will satisfy their growing monthly bills in this jobless economy. Despite the creation of student loan movements, such as the Occupy Student Debt campaign, there has been little done in terms of alleviating this national problem. But a wealthy group sitting on the sidelines stalking our country’s financially-wounded students has crept out from the thick grass and begun to prey upon the nation’s younger generations.

 

Enter the “predatory payer.”

 

“It’s a very expensive job,” said Jack, a 70-year-old Seeking Arrangement user, as he referred to his self-described “humanitarian” interest in helping young women out of their financial troubles, according to the Huffington Post.

 

Jack lives in a penthouse apartment in Manhattan, New York, where he pays $22,000 a month to inhabit. He claims to meet up twice a week with Seeking Arrangement users, costing him around $500 a night—a figure that’s derived not from the expense of dinners and shows, but strictly referring to his female company’s “services.”

 

“Unlike a traditional escort service, I was surprised to find such an educated, smart population,” he said.

 

This educated population Jack so selflessly seeks in his humanitarian endeavors is funneled right to him as Seeking Arrangements caters to those ridden with student loan debt. The website specifically targets students by offering users with email addresses containing a “.edu” domain free premium memberships and exclusive access to the VIP sugar daddy library. Students are also granted a stamp on their profile, labeling them as “college sugar babies,” making it easier for those browsing to locate college-aged “dates.”

 

“I guess I like the college girls more because I think of their student debt as good debt. At least it seems like I’m helping them out, like I’m helping them to get a better life,” Jack said as he attempted to justify his exploitation of young girls who are likely only using the website due to their monthly student loan bills.

 

The founder of the site estimates that 35 percent of his site’s 800,000 members are students.

 

A Victimless Crime?

 

“I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible,” recalls Taylor, a pseudonym given to a Seeking Arrangements user who described her story to the Huffington Post. “I just wanted to get of that situation as safely as possible, pay off my debt, and move on.”

 

Taylor, a 22-year-old female student living in Harlem who has been struggling to meet her student loan bills every month, stumbled upon Seeking Arrangements after Googling “tuition,” “debt”, and “money for school.” Soon afterwards, she was solicited by a 42-year-old man, who in actuality was over 50. When Taylor met the older man, they changed into their swim attire and jumped in the pool. After drying off, Taylor found herself in her suitor’s bedroom, where he proceeded to remove her bikini.

 

“I never thought it would come to this,” she confessed. “I got on the train and I felt dirty. I mean, I had just gotten money for having sex. I guess I accomplished what I needed to do. I needed the money for school. I just did what needed to be done.”

 

But the emotionally-damaging move proved to be but a temporary fix to a lasting problem. Taylor found herself back on the website looking for another offer when her student loan bills arrived the following month.

 

“Lead Astray Morally”

 

Despite what some may say about prostitution, it is not a victimless crime. When females haunted by their student loans resort to doing things they “never thought they would”—things that they want to get done with “as quickly and safely as possible,” and things that makes them  feel “dirty” afterwards… then it may be about time society addresses this obvious problem.

 

It’s one thing for protestors to picket and threaten collective student loan default. It’s a completely different thing when they feel their only option is to sell their bodies to satisfy that debt. But as the national student loan debt figure rises into the trillions, and even surpasses total credit card debt held by the nation, what are students to do?

 

“I only go out with girls 25 and under,” Jack told the Huffington Post reporter, finally cutting right to the point. “But I can’t walk into a bar and go up to a 25-year-old. They’d think I’m a pervert.”

 

Pervert, according to the Random House Dictionary, is a verb used for those who are “lead astray morally,” or “turn away from the right course.” If society accepts the fact that a 70-year-old man can purchase the sexual company of a lady young enough to be that man’s great granddaughter, then maybe the “they” Jack referred to shouldn’t view this man, and others like him, as perverted. If the community we live in deems this sort of behavior, this sort of website, and this sort of service as acceptable, then perhaps its not just the participating individuals who are perverts, but society as a whole.

 

This path to being morally lead astray may best be defined by a 23-year-old with $20,000 in student loan debt when she asked the Huffington Post: “Barring rape or death, what’s the worst thing that could happen to me?”