Maritime university students becoming 'sugar babies' to pay for school
More Canadian university students are becoming ‘sugar babies’ to pay their tuition, and that includes hundreds of students in the Maritimes.
The controversial practice involves selling companionship for cash. A website called Seeking Arrangement connects the so-called sugar babies with wealthy sugar daddies or sugar mommas, who provide money or gifts in exchange for time spent.
Seeking Arrangements boasts over 10 million members in over 139 countries. According to the website, sugar daddies or sugar mommas are “driven and enjoy attractive company by their side,” while sugar babies are “attractive people looking for the finer things in life.”
But many sugar babies are taking a more practical approach as they turn to the website to pay their way through school.
According to a recent report from Seeking Arrangements, more than 300,000 university students across Canada are using the website to pay off their student debt.
The University of Toronto took the top spot for having the most sugar babies on the website, while Dalhousie University has the most sugar babies in the Maritimes, ranking 19 on the top-20 list.
Seeking Arrangements says 69 students at the Halifax university signed up for the website in 2018, bringing the total number of Dalhousie sugar babies to 391.
“I think that’s absolutely crazy,” said Britney Somers, a student at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. “I never realized it was that many people.”
While some might question the morality of such an arrangement, Seeking Arrangements says the relationships aren’t necessarily sexual, or even romantic, in nature; it can be as simple as going on a coffee or movie date.
University student Louis Sobol says he can see the appeal of having a sugar momma.
“If the right sugar mommy came into my life and offered me a diamond ring, of course I’d take that diamond ring,” said Sobol.
“It’s free money, right? People do anything for money,” said student Hayley Somers.
According to the report, sugar baby students in Canada receive an average monthly allowance of $2,925 -- double the amount earned working a part-time job at the national minimum wage.
With the rising cost of tuition, Adam Stewart, a sociology professor at Moncton’s Crandall University, says it’s easy to see why more students are becoming sugar babies.
“More Canadians than ever -- about 20 per cent -- are graduating from university,” said Stewart. “More of those students -- about 60 per cent -- are women.”
Stewart says tuition fees have increased to almost three times as much as they were in 1990, outpacing inflation since 1982, and Canadian annual household income hasn’t kept pace with inflation.
He says that puts students in a vulnerable position to seek what could be considered unacceptable means of funding.
“They are seeking out socially-unacceptable options to meet a socially-acceptable goal,” he said.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kate Walker