Sugar Babies on Campus: How some local college students are selling themselves to pay tuition

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Norfolk, Va.  - Millions of students nationwide are currently enrolled in another University, Sugar Baby University. But instead of focusing on their studies, students are selling themselves to older men and women as Sugar Babies.

Nearly 150 students at a Norfolk university are paying for their tuition by becoming Sugar Babies, according to a study by Seeking Arrangement. The website, Seeking Arrangement, is a site where older men and women, known as Sugar Daddies and Mommies, pay to meet attractive young men and women or Sugar Babies.

"There are two reasons why this is so appealing to college students," explained Seeking Arrangement Spokesperson Angela Jacob Bermudo. "Number one is it is a great alternative to financial aid, college loans, taking on minimum wage job while having fun, and the second is among the young people is they are looking for another kind of relationship."

As a Sugar Baby, college students get paid to provide companionship to their Sugar Daddies and Mommies. The company says on average Sugar Babies earn $3,000 a month.

According to Seeking Arrangement, making that amount of money is why millions of students nationwide have signed up to be Sugar Babies. At one Norfolk university, a total of 141 students are currently Sugar Babies and one of them agreed to speak to NewsChannel 3.

"It was last semester and I was like dang, the school sent me a bill. I am the first person in my family to go to school so I had to find something to get money," explained the student.

The student says she has been Sugar Baby since October, she has asked NewsChannel 3 to not release her name or identify her.

"I don't want a lot of people to know. Its not a shame thing but being the person that I am I feel like people would judge me," she said.

She says being a Sugar Baby is the only way she can afford to complete her major on time, since as a Sugar Baby she's not locked into a set schedule and she is able to make more than minimum wage.

"I have made about $1,500 in a month, that's more than me working two jobs like I did in senior year of high school," she explained.

In order to make that kind of cash, the student says she goes on dates with her Sugar Daddy, talks to them on the phone and FaceTimes with them. She claims that is all that she does with her Sugar Daddy.

"I met people that help me pay for school. It's nothing sexual, nothing forced."

While becoming a Sugar Baby may sound like an easy way to pay for college, relationship professionals say it could lead to a very dangerous situation.

"I get why female students could potentially be attracted to this concept and idea but there are so many red flags that go off in my head," said Haley Raimondi, Lead Victim Advocate at Samaritan House in Virginia Beach.

As an expert on Domestic Violence relationships, Raimondi says an imbalance of power is the first warning sign of an unhealthy relationship. Which is why students signing up to be Sugar Baby is dangerous.

"Those types of power imbalances are unequal unhealthy relationships from the get-co," said Raimondi. "They tend to potentially become something more whether it is psychologically or physically violent or damaging."

Especially when the relationship between Sugar Daddies and Babies are portrayed this way. Though according to Bermudo, their advertisement is satire.

"If you have ever seen the Elle Woods Harvard video, that is what we modeled our video off of it is completely satire. Sugar Babies are really classy, it's not how short your shirt is or how long it is. It's supposed to be a funny video, but I guess humor is lost on some people."

But to Raimondi, there is no humor in the advertisement.

"Aside from potential sexual assault, I think psychologically going in and into that I think it could have a lot of long lasting detrimental effects to your development of what you understand as a healthy relationship is," said Raimondi.

If you, or anyone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, Samaritan House asks you to check out this link and visit their website,  SamaritanHouseVa.org.

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