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Rising fees drive college students to ‘sugar daddies’

By   /   January 28, 2013  /   1 Comment

“I’m working on my tan — and my degree in international business!” (Note: We don’t mean seriously to imply that the model depicted here is a U of H student.)

By Malia Zimmerman |

HONOLULU — Female students at the University of Hawaii have found an unconventional method to cover the rising cost of education, now nearly $10,000 per year for an undergraduate degree. They are signing up in record numbers with, a dating web site that openly boasts it will find them their perfect “Sugar Daddy.”

These “attractive, intelligent, ambitious and goal-oriented” women receive an average of $3,000 a month from their Sugar Daddy toward books, fees, tuition and living expenses. In exchange, they have a “mutually beneficial relationship” and spend time with their Sugar Daddy on dates.

Tuition at the state-run University of Hawaii has risen 141 percent over the last 11 years, driven in part by rising costs associated with its retired employees.

In 2012, some 105 female students from the state university requested a Sugar Daddy from, the world’s largest Sugar Daddy dating website. That’s up 72 women from the year before. The 218 percent growth landed the University of Hawaii in the number 31 spot of the “Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools of 2012,” according to site spokeswoman Angela Jacob Bermudo.

The Pew Research Center reports one out of five households are in debt due to student loans; Bloomberg BusinessWeek estimates the average cost of each student loan at approximately $25,250. Tuition increases across the country are driving the student membership, according to founder Brandon Wade. In 2011, college students made up 40 percent of the website’s total population, but after a 58 percent increase in co-ed signups in 2012, the total rose to to 44 percent.

While Hawaii has seen a remarkable spike in female students seeking Sugar Daddies, other states have seen an even bigger boost. The top 20 Universities include:


▪    1. Georgia State University – 292 (#11 in 2011)

▪    2. New York University – 285 (#1 in 2011)

▪    3. Temple University – 268 (#5 in 2011)

▪    4. University of Central Florida – 221 (#14 in 2011)

▪    5. University of Southern Florida – 212 (#7 in 2011)

▪    6. Arizona State University – 204 (#8 in 2011)

▪    7. Florida International University – 187

▪    8. University of Georgia – 148 (#2 in 2011)

▪    9. Indiana University – 123 (#17 in 2011)

▪    10. Texas State – 131

▪    11. Kent State University – 128 (#15 in 2011)

▪    12. Penn State – 121 (#13 in 2011)

▪    13. University of North Texas – 112

▪    14. Florida State University – 111

▪    15.Tulane University – 109 (#4 in 2011)

▪    16. Michigan State University – 108 (#9 in 2011)

▪    17. University of Ohio – 103

▪    18. Columbia University – 100

▪    19. University of Alabama – 96

▪    20. University of California Los Angeles – 91

Wade, a dating expert, founded the website on his belief that “successful relationships are formed out of two people being brutally honest with each other — about who they are, what they want and what they can offer. The site now claims more than 2 million members, a total of 3,881 members in Hawaii alone.

The website does not just match students with Sugar Daddies. Its service also matches males with Sugar Mommies.

“Unfortunately, most regular relationships aren’t mutually beneficial in nature. If you are in a relationship where you feel used, or taken advantage of, you are most likely in a one-sided relationship where you are giving more than you are receiving,” Bermudo said. “An Arrangement is short for ‘Mutually Beneficial Relationship’ between two people. At Seeking Arrangement, we believe that successful relationships are all ‘Mutually Beneficial Relationships’ in that they are two-way street, i.e., two people giving as much as they take from each other.”

Bermudo said no matter whether its members are seeking love, companionship, friendship or some financial help, either in the short-term or long-term, they can find the “perfect match.”

Critics compare the partnership to the world’s oldest profession, but Bermudo maintains that is not the case.

“It is against’s user terms and agreement to exchange or solicit sex for money. When a Sugar Baby decides to become intimate with their Sugar Daddy or Mommy, it is exactly like a regular relationship. After some time, if they find a connection with someone, then some Sugar Babies decide to become intimate with their counterparts. Prostitution and escort services are not allowed on These are very different from the chemistry-based relationships Sugar Babies/ Daddies have on Prostitution is black and white: Sex for money,” she said.

University of Hawaii officials have been grilled in recent months by state senators who believe the administration has unnecessarily increased the cost of tuition by adding new unnecessary high-salaried positions in the administration and also being careless with student tuition funds. There’s also the state’s obligation to pay enormous — and rising — benefits paid to it retired state employees, including those  at the University of Hawaii.

The University administration had no comment on the University of Hawaii’s placement in the “Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools of 2012″ report.

But Wade defends the practice: “While some may argue that these women are just using men for their own personal gain, I believe that they are proactive in pursuing a higher education.”

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Malia Zimmerman co-founded the investigative news organization, Hawaii Reporter, in February 2002. Malia reports daily for KHVH News Radio 830 AM, a local Clear Channel station, and hosts a monthly inspirational television show on the local CBS affiliate called You've Got the Power. Malia has freelanced for ABC 20/20, People magazine, Inside Edition, Fox News and publications such as the Washington Times, Bangkok Post and the Wall Street Journal. Malia and the reporters who worked under her have won numerous awards for their investigative reporting.

  • Sista Moon

    It’s sad and pathetic that the American dream now involves prostituting oneself to get an education. I suppose it could be said that the arrangement is only practice for the real world where one is fucked over daily.


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