PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – College can be really expensive and working a traditional job to pay for those expenses isn't necessarily going to cut it.
That's why a growing number of local students are turning to a source of cash that might surprise you, or even shock you.
Local students are taking to dating websites that cater to women who are looking for a Sugar Daddy to pay for their college education.
A commercial for SeekingArrangement.com targets women who are looking to graduate college debt free and with the personal connections they need to make it in a career.
KDKA's Amy Wadas spoke to a 23-year-old senior at Pitt who is using the website to help pay for college expenses. She is known as a Sugar Baby and does not want to be identified.
"You know, I always had a thing for older guys and combining that with working since I was 15. It just seemed like a really great way to get what I need," she said.
She's been on the site for two years.
"They've been helping me pay for books and parking passes, etc., as well as just general expenses," she said.
The average age for a Sugar Daddy is 42. This Sugar Baby says she's dating two Sugar Daddies right now. One Sugar Daddy is an engineer who is 49. The other is a doctor in his mid-40s.
She says they have been a huge help when it comes to college expenses. The most she's been paid at one time by a Sugar Daddy is $1,000.
However, she says it is mainly on a case by case basis.
"Actually, just the other day, he sent me $600 just for hanging out with him for the weekend as just of 'Hey, I'm thinking about you,' which is nice," she said.
The spokesperson of SeekingArrangement.com, Brook Urick, says the site is free for women to join. All you have to do is fill out a profile and then you're matched with one or more Sugar Daddies.
Men pay a monthly fee.
"That doesn't necessarily mean sleeping your way to the top. It can be as simple as if a girl is dating a Sugar Daddy, goes on a date with him and sees one of his connections and well now she knows the CEO of something," says Urick. "They're in college, so they're not ready for marriage yet. On the converse, a lot of guys are busy, successful businessmen who make a lot of money obviously, but then again, they work a lot and don't have time for a normal girlfriend who would get upset if they're going on business trips all the time."
Urick said the company has seen a 42 percent increase in students registering in the past year. Around 200 students in Pittsburgh alone are signed up.
The majority of Sugar Baby students in our area attend Pitt.
Believe it or not, most of their interactions are like normal dates. For example, going to dinner, hanging out at home or going away for the weekend, then getting money or a nice handbag in return for time well spent.
Amy Wadas: "I think a lot of people before even really researching the site would think, you know, you're dating a guy, he's giving you money. He wants sex."
Sugar Baby: "There's definitely a stigma and I kind of bought into it too before I was on the site. A lot of people think, 'Are you an escort?' It couldn't be farther from that. I've never felt pressured to sleep with somebody. I've never felt pressured to do anything. Every guy I've ever been on a date with or spoken to, it's always respect first, then whatever comes after that comes."
The site doesn't come without risks.
A CBS Chicago producer registered and almost immediately got 21 different sugar baby inquiries, some with explicit photographs and sexually charged messages.
"This is thinly veiled. There's no question this site is thinly veiled," Kent College of Law Dean Harold Krent said.
He says, however, even with the promise of financial gain, it's not against the law.
"If one subscribes to a site so that one can meet somebody and after meeting with somebody decide what happens next, then of course it's not prostitution," he said.
This isn't the only site targeting college students. Other sites like ArrangementFinders.com, SugarDaddyForMe.com and SugarDaddyWorldwide.com all have similar goals in mind.
They're targeting young women who need money or desire the finer things in life from older men.
As for this Pitt student, her family doesn't know she is doing this. However, some of her friends are actually considering it for themselves.
With med school on the horizon, she says she is going to stay on the site in order to keep getting what she needs.
There are around 13,000 people registered on SeekingArrangement.com's website.
That number includes both Sugar Daddies and Sugar Babies within a 50-mile radius of Pittsburgh. There is also a list out for the fastest growing Sugar Baby schools in 2015.
Kent State in Ohio ranked No. 4 on the list, Temple in Philadelphia was No. 9 and Penn State made the list at No. 17.
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