By Adrienne Moore

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Many college students are using a new, unconventional way to pay for school.

Instead of taking up a part-time job, more students, particularly women, are using sugar daddies to supplement their income and pay for college tuition and fees.

SeekingArrangement.com says getting a sugar daddy is a way students are able to graduate debt free.

There is no doubt the trend is raising more than a few eyebrows, but it’s also raising some serious cash for these students. But is it legal?

Experts say it’s a fine line beyond the surface image of the arrangements.

When Nazareth isn’t reading up on her next college exam, she’s logging on for an unorthodox lesson in financial aid:

“I’m looking for someone who is willing to help me with necessities: food, clothing, rent and college.”

The deaf culture major at American River College is among the many students feeling a growing financial squeeze, and the pressure to graduate on time.

“Yes, there is financial aid but financial aid only goes so far,” she said.

To help ease those burdens, she’s turned to the site that fashions itself as a dating site where people exchange companionship for money and other gifts.

Nazareth, which is an alias, is known as a sugar baby. Her matches are referred to as sugar daddies.

“It’s not prostitution. There’s no sex involved. It’s not surrounded by the sex industry,” she said.

What kind of relationship is it?

“Basically like any other girlfriend, except there’s no sex involved. There’s no sexual aspect of it. That’s what differentiates us from escorts is that it’s not based around sex,” she said.

But for Jese, a sugar daddy out of Roseville, it’s about finding a long-term intimate relationship. He didn’t want to show his face, but says he’s used the website for more than a year now and is direct about finding someone to settle down with.

“I really have no problem giving a sugar baby the support that she needs,” he said. I usually pay a sugar baby anywhere from $1,000 a month to $3,000.”

Right now, that chunk of change is funding the higher education of a UC Davis student. It’s one of many universities across the country seeing a dramatic increase in sugar baby signups—more than 400 students are currently signed up.

Nazareth and Jese are two of 5 million members using the site around the world, and more than 2,00 can be found in the Sacramento region. Of those, half use the word “student” in their profile.

Nazareth says it doesn’t feel like it marginalizes her as a woman.

“Anyone can be arm candy if you think about it,” she said. “It’s also allowed me to take that one class that I may or may not have not been able to take because I didn’t have the finances. And that’s definitely a weight off my shoulders because that just means I’ll be able to graduate faster.”

Jese claims it’s a mutually beneficial experience for him as well.

“She lets me know that the money is being used for a good cause and I want to make sure that you know, I help someone else achieve their goals. There’s a good self-fulfilling aspect to it,” he said.

But do the arrangements post safety or legal issues?

The company says it does have a third-party background check, and Nazareth says she hasn’t felt unsafe.

“I also have like five black belts, so I’m actually more worried about them,” she said.

Technically, the website is legal, but both parties do have reason to be careful, according to attorney Kinsey Reynolds.

“If there is any kind of inkling or suggestion that what they are paying for is sex or a sexual relationship than that would be illegal,” she said.

That could end with someone serving up to a year in jail, and the site says its filters will catch the abuse and kick the member off the site.

But with Nazareth now earning between $2,000 and $4,000 a month, the lines are very clear, even if others still view them as blurry.

Adrienne Moore

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