How sugar daddies are helping with college costs

“Sugar babying” is extremely popular amongst college students who need additional help with tuition. Photo Illustration by Hannah Greco | The Signal

As student debt continues to grow, students are becoming more resourceful to figure out how to pay for college. One of the easiest ways to get paid is just being yourself and providing someone with that one-of-a-kind service. Luckily, Atlanta’s sugar daddy industry pays big money for exactly that (disclaimer: The Signal is not endorsing going on a sugar daddy hunt after reading this article!).

That’s right, sugar daddies are on the rise, much like your bank account after a candle-lit dinner with a lonely businessman. The media presents them as senile men looking for young girls to give them—well—sugar, but the reality can be a bit more complex.


The Atlantic reported on sugar daddies back in 2015 with stats from a popular app to find the charming money-makers, Seeking Arrangements.

Atlanta is home to the highest number of sugar daddies on the site as of 2014. We’re followed by cities like Vancouver, Orlando, and San Francisco. What’s more is that Georgia State was ranked number five in the highest growth of sugar baby sign-ups. Our university, with its then 816 sugar babies, is not only bubbling with sugar daddy activity, but has seen increased activity as the years go by.


The Signal reached out to a former Georgia State student to give us the ins and outs of a sugar daddy/sugar baby relationship.

“More often than not, the process of actually getting a sugar daddy and keeping a relationship with one isn’t as hard as one would think,” student Mark Sweet* said.

Now more than ever, students seek out financial help from sugar daddies openly on social media. The process of starting the risky conversation face-to-face is eliminated, and students can visit the dating app of their choice and openly discuss their boundaries, expectations and desires with their sugar daddies to-be.

“It can be even as easy as getting a Tinder,” Sweet said.

While the source has only dabbled in the idea of a potential sugar daddy, they explained that they have never had the desperation to go through with any exchange whatsoever. On many occasions, they weren’t even on the dating apps to find a sugar daddy.

“It’s never been with the intent of finding a sugar daddy,” the source told us speaking on joining dating apps. “They just kind of end up in your DMs.”


So, once you’ve found a sugar daddy, there are undoubtedly going to be new things to get used to that are a little different from your average relationship.

Obviously, the age difference is the main factor in these kinds of relationships, but it may not be as stark as you’d think and for some, can even be enjoyable.

“Mass media projects an image of a much older man,” Sweet said. “But in my experience, the age range is usually between 28 and 42.”

Once you get over the (potentially small) age gap, the whole system gets a little complicated. Sweet said that unlike what’s projected in the media, there are different kinds of sugar daddies, often seeking and offering different things.

The average sugar daddy is someone who just wants company and emotional attachment in exchange for the check for your housing fee this semester or that last textbook you couldn’t afford. A “Splenda” daddy is a more forthcoming daddy who is ready to break open his wallet after you’ve satisfied his sweet tooth. The last daddy is also referred to as a white, powdery substance, but they take services in exchange for drugs. You do the math.


There are also some safety concerns with sugar daddies. While, by nature, they may seem very charming and flattering, they are still real people that could do harm. You should take many steps to vet the person you’re planning on meeting before giving up any significant information about yourself that could put you in harm’s way.

Going into the exchange on a whim is very dangerous when you begin to reveal the places you frequent, the people you are around, and even your payment information with finance apps.

“That’s putting a lot of risk in your pocket when it doesn’t need to be there,” Sweet said on situations like that.

A big safety concern is that in whatever capacity you’re dealing with your sugar daddy, you are still affecting their finances. This can make what would usually be average relationship arguments a lot more volatile because sugar daddies pay a pretty penny for their sugar babies to provide them what they agreed.

“You’re wrapping yourself up in someone’s finances,” Sweet said. “You’re going to end up poking the bear eventually.”

Aside from that, the truth is that many sugar daddies participate in the exchange for reasons deeper than sex. It’s the connection they can make with their sugar babies that keep them paying. They often get emotionally invested in the situation.

“You have to walk into it saying, I’m not just getting money for this. I’m also filling a void,” Sweet said.

Regular dinner dates, late night conversations, and the trust that the privacy of the relationship brings can make sugar daddies (and babies) feel a genuine attachment. So, altercations can also be fueled by pure passion, which is something else to be weary of.


The main takeaway here should be that at the end of the day, sugar daddy relationships are real relationships.

“It’s just like any other relationship where whatever you do, there’s consequences for it,” Sweet said.

If you’re going to seek out a sugar daddy, just remember to be careful, set boundaries, and that you can’t treat them as if they can’t act on emotion just the same as anyone else. The scary thing is that that can be a good thing for your bank account, but also a bad thing for your safety, so be cautious.

*The student’s name has been changed to Mark Sweet to protect the student’s identity.