Cory Bremer/Design Manager

Looking at the average student loan debt for more than 30 seconds might send students spiraling into self-doubt regarding how they could possibly afford college. Some might begin entertaining the idea of less conventional methods to earn necessary funds, such as seeking a wealthy sugar daddy.

With the help of easily accessible websites, including Seeking Arrangement, Established Men and Sugar Daddy Meet, people can find and start relationships with someone willing to offer them an allowance in exchange for pre-established relationship expectations. According to statistics released by Seeking Arrangement in 2015, more than half of its ‘sugar babies’ were college students. The website also maintains a ranking of universities with the greatest population of providers, a list that Arizona State University, with 1,361 sugar babies, currently tops.

At Binghamton University, some students have used sugar dating as a way to earn extra cash and cover cost of attendance. Forty-six respondents to Pipe Dream’s annual sex survey said they have previously used sugar dating websites, and 18 respondents said they have worked as a stripper, cam girl or sex worker. About 37.4 percent of respondents indicated they would be willing to try sugar dating, and 26.4 percent said they would be willing to work in the sex industry.

The distinction between sugar dating and escorting, or prostitution, is that sex does not necessarily have to occur within a sugar relationship. If sex is the only thing being offered, the provider is considered an escort, but if sex is merely expected, along with other traditional relationship activities, or sex is viewed as secondary to the priority of companionship, the relationship is categorized as sugar dating.

Although sugar dating can help students earn cash, it doesn’t come without risks. In r/sugarlifestyleforum, a forum on Reddit dedicated to discussions about sugar dating, sugar babies and daddies warn newcomers that they should take safety precautions, including protecting their identity and personal information, only accepting forms of payment that do not require them to give out their banking information and choosing profile pictures that would not cause damage to their reputations if they were made public.

According to the forum, sugar babies should also be careful to meet in public places when first meeting potential partners, and should be wary of bringing their partners into their homes to offer sexual intimacy.

Most sugar babies in the forum agreed sugar dating can help with paying bills and earning money. However, as one poster pointed out, it still requires sugar babies to enjoy their role and work hard.

“There is no such thing as ‘easy’ money,” the poster wrote. “Sugaring comes with a cost. It costs time, effort and in most cases intimacy.”

It can also be difficult to keep sugar dating private. One poster in the forum wrote that her mother had found out that she was sugar dating and threatened to cut off her support.

“I’ve tried to just not tell her things,” the poster wrote. “But she’s too involved in everything and then uses her helping me as a weapon.”

Despite the risks, the increase in college students sugar dating to earn extra cash shows no signs of stopping.

“A [sugar baby] I saw who works at a bar said all the girls at the bar sugar,” wrote a poster on r/sugarlifestyleforum. “Every college girl at my [sugar baby’s] prior workplace asked her help in setting up a Seeking [Arrangement] profile.”