With the average student loan debt being around $27,000 upon graduation, according to Finaid.org, and many having substantially higher debts, students are going to further and further lengths to attempts to pay off debts, and afford tuition to stay in college. Taking on side jobs, some even resorting to exotic dancing and escort services, a controversial website has seemingly streamlined the process of hooking up cash-strapped college students with wealthy, and often much older, "companions". SeekingArrangements.com bills itself as a "Sugar Daddy" dating site, an online venue for wealthy "sugar daddies and mommas" to hook up with younger "sugar babies" for companionship and, most frequently, sex. The site's founder, Brandon Wade, says that of the approximately 800,000 profiles on his website, about 135,500 of them list "student" as their occupation. He calls his website a, "unique service... for men and women living through tough economic times to afford college," by finding "mutually beneficial relationships." A lot of euphemism for a thinly-veiling online prostitution ring. For all of his protestations about the website's validity, it doesn't stop him from actively pursuing new college-aged members by rewarding new members with a '.edu' web address with free premium access and a "college sugar baby" handle.
The following table, from Huffington Post, was provided by SeekingArrangements.com, showing university tuition rates-to-sugar baby membership on the site. This, in response to claims by Wade that college membership to his site has increased 350% since he began placing his site in search results for search-words, "student debt" and "financial aid".
Although the website, and its founder, are admittedly some revolting entities, it doesn't change the fact that higher education in this country has become so insanely expensive that students are forced to resort to these kinds of arrangements. Similar to the healthcare industry, costs have spiraled so out of control that even American-obsessed debt can no longer cover the burden, particularly in the face of such a stifling recession. Call it the "college bubble"; with the cost of the service far outweighing the real-market value of an undergraduate diploma. Jobs are a no-show, which leave precious little opportunity to pay down these astronomical debts. Furthermore, student loan debt is not treated in the same way as, say, credit card debt in courts. Student loan debt can not be defaulted on, and can not be written off in bankruptcy courts. Instead courts will garnish wages, repossess property, and do whatever they have to to recoup their losses. Student loan debt is, now very literally, for life.
The federal regulations that were recently imposed on online higher ed. institutions (and were frankly too watered down by for-profit lobbying) have been put off of three years for those institutions to "reorganize". Those regulations need to be enforced now, and they need to be expanded to include traditional higher education institutions, from private colleges to public universities. In addition, student loan providers need stiffer regulation, and the laws regarding the holding of student loans need to change so that individuals have greater ability to consolidate, and pay off, if need be in times of economic recession and joblessness, default. Higher ed. students are being sold a bill of goods right now in this country, and it's forcing them to sell themselves the same way.