So you’ve racked up hundreds or thousands of dollars in student debt — and maybe you’re finally on your way to paying it off. But what if your options for a cheaper way to pay your loans are as a sex worker?
That’s the reality for a lot of college students, who are more likely to be in debt than not and are turning to escort apps like Skip The Games, cam sites like Chaturbate, and sites like OnlyFans to pay for school, according to a forthcoming report by NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
How Escort Sites Work
On one of the biggest companies in this space, SkipTheGames, the majority of its escorts are college students. According to its site, more than half of its users are between 18 and 24. The site, which has been in business for more than a decade, is one of the largest escort sites in the world, with more than 6 million registered members.
“A lot of people are willing to pay to have a girlfriend experience,” said a young women who works as an escort for the site. “With this company, it’s easy. You just go on some dates, decide who you want to sleep with, and they pay you.”
The woman said that the company pays on a commission, and she takes $100 to $250 per hour.
She said she gets paid for her time, not for sex. According to the woman who works for the site, the men who hire them are more interested in her company than just sex.
“Men are willing to spend a lot more money because they can pay for everything,” she said. “They are willing to pay more because they don’t care.”
While a lot of the escorts on Skip The Games are women, the company says it’s also a popular site for women who want to hire male escorts for sex.
How Many College Students Turn To Escort Sites?
More than one in five college students have used an escort service to pay for tuition, the report says. It also found that college students who are in debt use sex work to cover their loans, and the companies that provide sex work are more than happy to recruit them.
The report, titled “Sex Work as a Way to Pay for College,” paints a bleak picture of how many college students are living with debt, and what it means to them. NAFSA surveyed more than 3,000 college students — about half of them women — about their financial situation.
Here’s what it found:
- One in three college students was in debt.
- College student debt was highest at the University of California-Los Angeles and University of California-San Diego, where it was at 31% and 27%, respectively.
- Only 10% of students went without meals to pay for tuition.
- The majority of students surveyed said that they spent more on tuition than they expected.
- Nearly one-quarter of college students surveyed said that they used sex work to pay for school.
The report, which will be published next week, says that financial uncertainty created by student debt makes it more likely that college students will resort to sex work.
“In the context of student debt, sex work may provide a sense of control,” the report says.
Even if college students aren’t in dire financial straits, the pressure to pay off their debt can have serious consequences.
“I’m in school and I’m spending all my time and all my money trying to pay off my loans,” one college student told NAFSA. “But I’m not making any money.”
She said she makes “tens of thousands of dollars” a year working, but still doesn’t feel like she’s making enough to live.
“I don’t feel like I’m getting ahead because I still have to pay off this debt,” she said. “And I’m not getting ahead. I feel like I’m stuck.”
Why Are So Many College Students in Debt?
The student debt crisis is so bad that it’s affecting the economy in ways we didn’t expect.
Since the recession, the economy has been growing but the wages of the average American have been stagnant. College students are one of the groups that have seen their wages go down, according to a report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
College graduates have seen the median wage of their age group decrease by nearly $1,000 from 2008 to 2018, according to the report.
The report blames the decrease on student loan debt.
In 2008, students graduating from college were earning an average of $35,500 a year. That number has dropped to $29,800 now, according to the report.
How can we solve the student debt crisis?
This debt crisis is solvable. The American education system needs to be reformed and universities need to be made tuition-free.
Education should be accessible for all. And colleges and universities should be forced to prioritize the needs of their students and not their profits.