By: Laura Stockler
With the cost of college tuition rising across the nation, many students are resorting to controversial means of avoiding debt. Hundreds of students in the Pittsburgh area alone opt to become “sugar babies,” who traditionally receive financial support in exchange for companionship. Most universities turn a blind eye to these arrangements, but it is difficult to ignore the generous amount of money that lonely sugar mamas and daddies are willing to pay college students in need. That is why Pitt has teamed up with some of the largest sugar baby dating websites to create a scholarship that will guarantee that all “allowance money” goes toward the sugar baby’s tuition. The creation of a Sugar Baby Scholarship aims to destigmatize the relationship between benefactor and student, redefining the “unorthodox” and “creepy” arrangement as “philanthropic” and “charitable.” Some of the more generous benefactors even donate large sums of money to the university to protect their anonymity.
We spoke with the first recipient of the Sugar Baby Scholarship, Brenda Talenti, about her experience with the new arrangement. “I’ve been using SeekingArrangement.com since my freshman year. I’ve always had a thing for older guys, so it’s a pretty ideal gig” says Brenda, a current senior majoring in chemical engineering. “I started off freshman year working two jobs on top of all of my classes. It just got too hard to manage, so I wound up looking for alternative ways to make money. That’s when my friend showed me this website where you can meet men who will pay you to go on dates with them.” The average sugar daddy is 42. Brenda’s current patrons are a 73-year-old chocolatier and a 69-year-old professor, both of whom now forward their payments to the university. The university takes a small part of the money and the rest goes to Linda’s tuition.
It’s free for prospective sugar babies to sign up on SeekingArrangement.com, but sugar daddies must pay a monthly fee. The university has effectively taken out the middleman by hosting its own pitt.edu website to facilitate pairing of scholarship recipients with university-affiliated patrons. The Pitt website will include an application for the Sugar Baby Scholarship for the 2018 academic year alongside applications to become a Pitt sugar baby, the only prerequisite to apply for the scholarship.