College-age ‘Sugar Babies’ multiplying in Bay State

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BOSTON – College students can be creative in finding ways to pay for their often overpriced education. But one form of financing that is rapidly growing may not make parents proud.

Both locally and across the country, professional “Sugar Daddies” are offering a helping hand – in exchange for companionship services.

Yes, you heard that right., whose founder started the idea after he graduated with two degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology but had trouble finding girlfriends, sets up wealthy men (and women) with students, or “Sugar Babies,” willing to trade their time for college tuition help – or just straight, hard cash.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst was recently named one of the site’s top 50 American colleges for such arrangements.

Boston has been labeled one of the “stingiest” sugar cities, but the Bay State’s public university was listed as number 41 in “Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools.” UMass Amherst saw 48 students join the site this year alone, bringing the total number of UMass profiles to 158, according to

“The $1.2 trillion college debt crisis is crippling our economy – and no one is doing anything about it,” said Brandon Wade, who founded the website in 2006.

“Instead of earning a living and making milestone purchases post-graduation, many are stuck sending their paychecks straight to Sallie Mae.”

Wade touts his solution as beneficial for both broke college students – or young women searching for a lavish lifestyle – and overworked middle-aged men who have yet to find a lady. Nearly 2 million college students have taken him up on the offer, with “Sugar Babies” receiving an average of $3,000 in monthly allowance. Sixty percent of students seeking “benefactors” are from the U.S.

Some women argue that the site is much-needed.

“It’s afforded me the opportunity to do unpaid research, I get to go to nice dinners. It’s been a good experience,” a 21-year-old Boston University student – and sugar baby who earned several hundred dollars per date – told New England Cable News in 2014. She claimed she never had sex with any of her dates. “I’ve been doing this for almost a year and I’ve never done anything that I feel bad about.”

That doesn’t mean that the site doesn’t come with risks. Although the site explains the relationships are “on your terms,” those expectations aren’t always communicated, and many men expect more than a conversation over dinner.

One man offered to “pay $500 a week and asked how far I’d go sexually,” a Boston woman under the pseudonym of Lauren told Seventeen Magazine in 2014.

“I decided the terms, so I didn’t feel like I had to do anything I wouldn’t do with a boyfriend.” Although she had decided to be physical for financial arrangements, her lack of attraction to her date caused her to end the arrangement.

Another Boston-area student wrote about dating “Sugar Daddies” in order to meet tuition payments at Emerson College – a lifestyle that quickly turned stressful and even caused anxiety attacks.

“I felt like a victim of sexual assault. I know I can’t say that because it was my choice, but it is how I felt,” she wrote in Emerson’s December 2014 issue of “Your Magazine.”

“I don’t think I had any idea how it would affect my mental and emotional health … No school tuition, amount of money, and certainly no pair of expensive shoes is worth that.”

The author admitted that she has not deleted her profile, but she has changed her mind on the idea of the arrangement.

“Regardless of the candy-coated name put on the arrangement, sugar dating is, in all honesty, nothing more than poorly-veiled misogynistic objectification and female exploitation.”

Wade admits that it’s a controversial method, but argues that helping students graduate students debt-free is “more than anyone can say of a particular president or Congress.”

New York University and Arizona State University hold the top two slots for fastest growing “Sugar Baby” schools, with more than 1,000 students joining the site from each school.

University of Massachusetts Amherst officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis