College is expensive. So, it’s no surprise that you’re searching for guidance on how to make money as a college student.
You have to pay for tuition, textbooks, activities, and school supplies. This is on top of the money you pay for gas, food, and other daily expenses.
And when you finally graduate, you might be over $25,000 in debt — more if you attend a private university. A high paying career might be waiting for you after your diploma. But that doesn't solve your immediate financial needs. "I am a college student, and I need money NOW!" you say.
The struggle is real, and we hear you loud and clear. That's why, in this article, we're diving into different ways to make money as a college student.
The "broke college student" has become more than a problem. It's now an identity. And in today's internet culture, you'll find hundreds of broke college student memes out there.
So, why is this? Let's look at a couple of factors.
College is expensive!
No matter how you slice or dice it, the price tag for college is significant. So, when you decide to go to college, you're shouldering a serious financial commitment.
But college isn't just expensive. It's getting more expensive every year after comparing the price between 1980 and recent years. "After adjusting for inflation, the average undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board has more than doubled since 1964, from $10,040 to $23,835 in 2018," USA Facts reports. "Tuition has recently grown the fastest at public and private non-profit institutions, for which tuition has gone up 65% and 50%, respectively, since 2000."
Read that again: Tuition has increased by 65% and 50% respectively since 2000.
College is getting more expensive, and high-interest rates are digging college students into deeper holes. Yet, students aren't making more money to offset the rising cost.
Figuring out how to make money as a college student is challenging, and this is when they need money most. Much of this has to do with the average college student's availability. Restrictive class schedules can make them poor candidates for companies that want employees that can work full-time or during regular business hours.
College students weren't even eligible to receive the recent coronavirus stimulus checks. "Not only are some left out of receiving stimulus relief checks, but young people, ages 16 to 24, will also be disproportionately affected by coronavirus layoffs, according to the Pew Research Center, since nearly half work in service-sector jobs, and make up 24% of workers in higher-risk industries overall," CNBC reports.
College students are swimming in debt with limited lifelines to stay afloat.
And whatever money college students can scrounge up often go to their daily expenses:
College students just don't have much in their bank account. According to a Deposit Accounts survey, 65% of college students have less than $1,000 saved in their bank accounts.
The reasons mentioned above may explain why, but there may be another culprit: reckless spending. Buying clothes and alcohol, eating out with friends, and expensive trips and experiences can quickly deplete the coffers. For example, many college students attend Coachella—and tickets are not cheap!
While it's unfair to say that all college students have poor spending habits, cutting expenses and slowly building up your savings can go a long way.
As you just learned, many teenagers and college students have the deck stacked against them financially — and at such a unique time. When you're young, you want to explore, hang out with friends, and travel the world. But now, you have school and obligations and a negative net worth hanging over your head.
Even so, that doesn't mean you can't learn how to make money as a college student. There are more ways to learn how to make money as a teen than flipping burgers on the weekend (although it's a start). Even while you're young, there are doors of opportunity waiting for you to knock. Here are more than 47 ways for how to earn money while studying in college:
Uber (founded in 2009) and Lyft (founded in 2012) are mainstream now. If you want to make some quick cash, start driving people around. Many college students ferry people across town for a couple of hours before and after class.
And getting started is easy. Here are Uber's requirements:
Transporting isn't limited to just people. You can also fulfill food orders and deliver groceries to customers. Here are some apps that will pay you to do this:
If you're living in your college dorm, you've already experienced the hassle of moving in. There's tons of heavy-lifting, bulky furniture to squeeze into tight spaces, and then there's squeezing your stuff into an elevator.
If you want to make a little cash, take over the heavy-lifting. And you can expand your customer circle to more than college students — you can serve new move-ins in the surrounding neighborhoods.
TaskRabbit is just one of many awesome apps for college students to make money. It connects you with people who will pay you to complete random tasks and odd jobs like:
With so many different gigs available, you're sure to find some random tasks you can do.
Are you a pet lover? Maybe you already own a cat or dog. Some pet parents take trips and can't bring their furry (or scaly or feathery) friends with them. The Rover app can connect you with people who need a pet sitter while they're out and about.
The useful part about Rover is that your clients can rate you, similar to how customers rate restaurants on Yelp. And good ratings means more business (and more money!). To improve your score, you can:
You can do more than pet-sitting with Rover. People even use the Rover app to connect with dog walkers. Some people are too busy and need help exercising their dogs. If you don't want to pet-sit for an entire weekend, how about walking their dogs for the afternoon? Their dogs get exercised, and you get your steps in!
If you have younger siblings, babysitting duties probably fell on you growing up. In most cases, your parents didn't pay you. As a college student, why not babysit and get paid for it? Sites like Care.com can connect you with parents who need a babysitter.
If you've ever tried painting, you know it's more than just putting roller to wall. You need to spread the drop cloth to avoid splatter spills. Then there's setting up painter's tape for clean edges. You might even need to move bulky furniture in and out of the room.
And that's all before you finally get to the manual labor of painting. Painting is a hassle for many people. Why not do it for them and charge for it?
Okay, okay. Maybe a T.V. or movie extra isn't exactly a starring role. BUT, you can still get paid to be that person just walking in the background. You may not be front and center, and maybe your face is a little blurry, but at least you can tell your friends you were on the big screen!
Did you know that some companies will hire you to pose as an ordinary customer? Here's what you do. You buy a product or service from that company, and then the company pays you to share your review and experience. This helps companies improve their products or services by collecting feedback from real people. And you can be a mystery shopper for many different things:
Let's be real. Cleaning a pool can be a pain. And with summer coming around, more people will need clean pools to cool off in the summer sun. Make pool owners' lives easier by cleaning their pools for them. As the weather gets hotter, you're sure to find more clients.
You can clean pools in the summer and then pivot to shoveling snow in the winter. Ever need to wake up 30 minutes earlier to clear the snow from your driveway so you can drive to work? It's a headache! Surely, people won't mind paying you to do it for them so they can hit the snooze button in the morning.
This job requires you to spotlight products and allow customers to sample or view them. Think Costco and those delicious samples. What are the requirements?
Not all heroes wear a cape. Some of them wear shorts, sunscreen, and a whistle on their neck. If you're a talented swimmer and want to protect people from a watery doom, consider working as a lifeguard. You can check your local beach, schools, and community pools to see if they're hiring this summer.
Everybody loves coffee — college students, especially. How else can you pull an all-nighter cramming for midterms the next morning? The love for coffee — perhaps coffee addiction? — is also why you see many college students working as baristas.
Starbucks, particularly, is a popular place to work among college students. And it's no surprise. Starbucks helps students enroll in college by offering 100% tuition coverage for their part-time and full-time employees at Arizona State University's online program. This company makes it possible for their employees to attend college and make money at the same time.
Want to make easy cash doing something entertaining and straightforward? Get paid to watch movie previews. Sites like Inbox Dollars will pay you to watch trailers and submit your feedback. Inbox Dollars even pays you $5 just for signing up!
Some might think the writing gene is recessive, but like many skills, you can learn them. Working at the writing center, you can help students who struggle to write their college papers. You'll offer suggestions, help brainstorm, and proofread papers. Depending on your college, working at the writing center may even fulfill school credits.
Resident advisors are responsible for creating a suitable living environment for students living on-campus. Also, resident advisors get some pretty sweet perks. They enjoy free or discounted housing (and we all know how expensive rent can get!). Also, there's no need to commute (unless you count riding a bicycle or skateboard to and from classes). Resident advisors live and work on-campus, which adds convenience. Here are a resident advisor's typical responsibilities:
Often called freshmen orientation, first years tour the campus and get acquainted with the different buildings and campus layout. As a tour guide, your responsibilities are to lead a group of freshmen (and sometimes their parents). You'll answer questions and offer recommendations on where to study, seek counseling, and relax.
Becoming a research assistant is a great way to gain relevant experience and make money while finishing your degree. As a research assistant, you can expect to:
Becoming a research assistant, however, has a higher entry barrier than most. This role is often available to senior students who are pursuing their master's degrees or Ph.D.
With many colleges implementing more technology into their curriculum, they need additional staff to handle the setup and resolve technical hiccups. Just recently, we saw how many professors moved classes to Zoom chats. Depending on your I.T. department, you may need certification, experience with hardware, and proficient technical and computer skills.
If the food industry is more your calling, why not work in your campus's culinary sector? Many college campuses have cafeterias and restaurant franchises. You can apply to one of those venues to:
Some universities are massive, which necessitates having their own centralized post offices. If you work at the campus post office, you can help sort and deliver mail and packaging throughout the school.
It's not the most glamorous job, but it is a necessary one that often goes unnoticed. Working in your college's custodial department, you'll help keep your campus clean and well-maintained for your fellow students.
Many internships are unpaid, but if you look hard, you can find an internship that pays you for your time and results. Colleges often partner with local businesses to help their students gain real-world experience. Check your college website and consult with your college's career counselor to find and succeed in internships. You can also research online job boards outside your school, like Indeed, to widen your search.
Did you know that you can get paid to participate in college experiments? No, you probably won't go from skinny to ripped, like the experiments conducted on Captain America. But you'll probably get paid to participate in a survey or study. The pay ranges vary based on the difficulty and duration of the assignment. For example, the sociology department may pay you to conduct social experiments and then complete a post-study survey.
It's not exactly a job or gig, but it's still income! Check out your college website's scholarship page to see which ones are available to you.
Credit: Starter Story
Tutoring can be a profitable side business for the right college student. The upfront costs are low, and you don't need a teaching license to become a private tutor. Also, there are tons of subjects you can tutor, so you can pick one that you're most comfortable with.
You can tutor by topics, like English, math, and science. Or, you can tutor by grade, working with only grade school students or college students. You can also tutor by test, like the SAT or LSAT.
Also, private tutors that do well tend to gain referrals by word-of-mouth. After all, most parents want the very best for their children and are willing to shell out the money to give them a leg up in their academics.
And if you think the money you make tutoring is just pocket money, think again. 22-year-old Adam Shlomi started to make money in college when he founded SoFlo SAT Tutoring, an online SAT/ACT tutoring company. This company "brings in average revenue of $15,000 a month and has seen a linear increase in student sign-ups each month since its official inception in March 2019." If you offer a useful service and market yourself right as Shlomi did, you can rake in six-figures per year!
Tim Ferris, the author of the 4-Hour Work Week, started hustling much earlier than when he began writing the book. When he was in college, he offered workshops in speed reading. He helped students double and even triple their reading time.
While speed reading may be a niche skill, you can apply it to your own situation. What unique skills do you know that you think could benefit other students? If you're a terrific writer, you can offer a workshop on how to create better outlines. Or, if you're amazingly efficient, you can teach productivity and time management strategies.
As people's lives get busier, essential nutrition is sometimes left at the wayside. As a private chef, you cook people's meals to ensure they're still eating healthy. Some culinary hustlers have even opened meal prep businesses, where customers purchase meals in bulk for the upcoming week.
Ah, mowing lawns. The original side hustle for teenagers looking to make some cash. It's hard not to admire mowing lawns as the most straightforward example of getting paid for your work. You mow lawns. You get paid. Simple as that. Visit some of your affluent neighborhoods to see if their homeowners need some help with trimming their grass.
The weight loss industry has boomed with the rise of social media. If you look on Instagram, you'll find hundreds of personal trainers building their portfolio on Instagram — showing off the clients' results after working with them. If you're a fitness nut with a tried-and-true exercise regimen, why not use your spare time to build your own personal training business? You'll work directly with clients to develop personalized exercise and nutrition plans.
When people enroll in college, it's safe to assume many of them plan to apply for a job post-graduation. While they may learn tons of knowledge and trade-specific skills in their classes, everyone overlooks the humble resume. If you have a knack for transforming a blah resume into a sharp marketing tool for job applicants, help your fellow college students. Something as seemingly simple as a piece of paper can make the difference between getting a call for an interview and getting your application thrown out.
While many businesses are moving online, you can still find success in building a business with a physical storefront. Need some convincing? We have fantastic examples that will hopefully inspire you.
Meet Johanna Zlenko, founder of The Closet Trading Co. She runs a luxury consignment store in California that offers "carefully curated collections of popular contemporary brand designers." And get this. She started this company while she was a first-year at U.C. Santa Barbara.
"The Closet Trading Co was only meant to be a temporary project, and hopefully a way to help pay my way through school. I never imagined that it would last beyond college, much less 16+ years and counting," she tells Girl Talk H.Q.
Her business has grown significantly since 2003. Fourteen years later, she now has four additional locations open in Southern California.
Thought Johanna's story was awesome? Wait until you hear the next one.
Credit: Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise shares the story of two brothers who are earning money while studying in college. The heroes of this story are brothers Shane and Nigel Mushambi. They are only 12 and 13-years-old, respectively, but these boys are already taking college courses. Not only are they wise beyond their age, but these brothers are hustling.
After winning a local baking competition, this brother duo opened a Texas Bakery called Two Bros in the Kitchen. And they're sharing the wealth! These young entrepreneurs donate a portion of their profits to their community.
If you think you must wait until you graduate with your business or marketing degree to pursue your winning business idea, think again. Get started on launching your business now!
It's easy to think you can't learn how to make money as a college student without a job. After all, how else will you get somebody to pay you if you can't get hired?
But all that's changing.
Thanks to the internet, there are so many ways to get money flowing into your wallet without a traditional 9 to 5 or part-time job. You can learn how to make money as a college student online from home! Here are some ways to add commas to your bank account while working in your pajamas.
You've probably heard the term "brand ambassador" floating around. Brand ambassadors make much of their income through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing essentially is just referring your audience to buy a product and then gain a commission for each sale you refer.
Here's an example of how it works.
Let's say you're a rising figure in the makeup industry. Company X invites you to be one of their brand ambassadors. You agree, and they provide you an affiliate link for one of their newest lipsticks. First, you create a YouTube video reviewing the product and highlighting its features. Next, you create a call to action to click the link in the description box to buy the lipstick. For each customer that purchases the product through your affiliate link, you gain a 10% commission.
If you have a broad audience, affiliate marketing is a great way to make some semi-passive income. Also, this is how our very own Ryan Moran started making money online! In fact, he generated six figures a year from his dorm room - on dial-up, nonetheless.
If you're interested in starting with affiliate marketing, Amazon's affiliate program is a reliable place to start. Be sure to check out our 2020 Beginner's Guide to Amazon Associates.
Social media may have taken the spotlight, but learning how to make money blogging is still viable in 2020.
The advantage of having a blog is ownership. With social media, you're vulnerable to the ever-changing algorithms of social media that potentially interfere with how you engage your audience. When you own your website, you have ultimate control over how to use it.
So, how can you create a blog that makes you money? Blogging is all about building an audience. And to build an engaged audience, you must offer value-packed content. After building a loyal follower base, you can leverage that audience and make money through:
Unless you already have a following on another platform like Instagram or YouTube, you probably won't be making money off your blog anytime soon. Blogging is a long-term income strategy. You'll need patience and discipline to grow it into a reliable income stream.
Dan Lok talks a lot about developing a high-ROI skill, like writing, coding, web design, and copywriting. If you learn one of these skills, you can monetize it by freelancing your service.
Upwork reported 57 million Americans were freelancing in 2019. They also found that "53% of workers ages 18–22 freelanced" that year. More people are learning how to build their high-ROI skill, as Dan Lok says, and then build a business around that skill. If you're studying business or marketing in college, you can apply what you learn in real-world applications.
Business executives are BUSY people, and that's why they hire employees. They outsource the responsibilities they don't have time to fulfill themselves. But assistance no longer has to be in-house. We're seeing more virtual assistants pitching their services to these busy executives. Services like:
If you have a keen eye for detail and strong organization skills, you'll fare well as a virtual assistant.
Who could have predicted that YouTube, launched in 2005, would evolve into a valuable business tool? Today, there are thousands of YouTube accounts. And many people have already quit their day jobs to cultivate a full-time income on YouTube!
As a college student, you can do the same and make money by creating video content about nearly any subject. Like a blog, you can eventually monetize your audience through brand partnerships, affiliate marketing, and Google Adsense revenue.
If you've been exploring the e-commerce space for any amount of time, you likely stumbled across the term "dropshipping." Simply put, dropshipping is selling a product without any overhead. You build a relationship with a supplier, list their goods in your online store, and then forward the customer's details to the supplier, who fulfills the order for you.
And right now, so many people are leveraging Amazon to build their dropshipping business. If you want to sell products without the hassle of inventory and warehousing, check out our 2020 Amazon Dropshipping Guide.
You've probably been skeeved by old-school stock photos. Fake smiles. Awkward posing. Cheesy staged shots of a man in a business suit yelling into a phone.
Nope. These won't cut it anymore.
Try selling stock photos if you have a high-quality camera and know how to operate its many different functions. Businesses need captivating images (that don't make you cringe) for their branding visuals. Check out our How to Make Money with Photography in 2020 report.
As you grow your personal library of professional photographs, you can sell them to marketplaces like:
Businesses and the world will improve when there are less cringe-inducing stock photos in the wild.
Buy website. Improve website. Sell website.
That's the three-step process of website flipping. If you have experience in web design and coding, try learning how to make money website flipping. You can find under-performing websites, give them a makeover, and then flip them for a profit.
Are you crafty?
If so, Etsy will be a good friend to you. Etsy is the go-to marketplace for DIYers, crafters, knitters, and artists to sell their wares. If you offer a niche product — say, handwoven blankets with quotes from The Office — then your blankets will find a home on Etsy. People love Etsy for its rustic, artisanal culture.
As you already learned, social media is enormous. 90% of U.S. businesses in 2017 used social media for marketing purposes, according to Statista.
But social media adds another list of to-dos on top of all the other business processes. Those responsibilities multiply if you're building a presence on multiple platforms — Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, and more.
Social Media Managers who understand how each platform operates and how to organize content is in demand. If this is you, start pitching your services as a freelance Social Media Manager.
The beauty of the internet is that you no longer have to go to college to enroll in a course. Online courses are a popular alternative to the (super pricey) college route. Also, people enjoy online courses because many courses are self-taught and self-paced.
You can package your wisdom into an online course and sell it if you have knowledge that is valuable and can help others. There are also marketplaces like Lynda and Skillshare, where you can monetize your online course.
Medium is a blogging and publishing platform launched in 2012 by Ev Williams. And it's a new way for writers to make money.
Here's how it works.
Medium non-members can read only three stories per month. To read more, you must subscribe. Writers who enroll in Medium's partner program make money based on how much time paying Medium members spend reading your articles. Stripe deposits your earnings into your bank account.
So, if you're majoring in English or creative writing, why not use your writing talents to learn how to make money by joining Medium's partner program?
Credit: ABC News
If you want a prime example of serving the people's needs, look no further. ABC News Shares featured two Texas college students who spent their spring break building a website that lists the available grocery items at your local store during the coronavirus outbreak.
"When we came back from college, we realized that our parents were really struggling to find some grocery items," Rithwik Pattikonda, 19, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, told ABC News. "And when we saw the news, we realized that the issue was much more widespread."
When people frequent multiple stores, they increase their risk of getting infected. Their website, InStok.org, reduces this risk. These college students offer a valuable service, and if you want to support them, you can donate — or as they say, "buy me a coffee" — through their website.
When learning how to make money in a college town, the easiest thing to sell is nothing physical. Instead, your most valuable asset is your youth and energy. When you're younger, you don't usually have the same obligations as an older adult:
You have more time to figure out what you want to do. You also tend to have more energy, which you can direct to create amazing ideas that birth amazing businesses. While it may not give you immediate income, it is something to think about and something you can leverage to build long-term wealth.
We mentioned so many tips above on the different ways to make money. But some methods have a slower return than others, like creating a blog. If you want to make a quick $100, you'll want to do something that offers an immediate return.
Mowing lawns, for example, is a straightforward gig that will get you paid upon job completion. Doing several jobs online through Fiverr or Upwork can also be a quick way to net some cash.
Increasing your income is all about:
If you haven't cultivated any passive income sources, you'll have to rely on trading your time for money. Again, it goes back to the same way you make a quick 100 bucks. You must complete gigs that offer an immediate payment upon completion and then repeat the process.
As you build your income and savings and increase financial literacy, you can learn how to invest in assets that semi-passively pay you. Assets like businesses, an engaged audience, and investments. These types of assets are the secret to building long-term wealth. In fact, NOW would be an excellent opportunity to start investing in dividend stocks.
Learning how to make money as a college student can be challenging. We mentioned earlier all the factors working against college students building wealth: rising tuition costs, not enough income, and inadequate savings.
But you're not powerless.
Nor must you settle for the "broke college student" stereotype. As a college student, there are so many money-making opportunities available to you that can generate an extra grand per month.
Yes, you may have time constraints of classes, homework, and your personal life. It's up to you to figure out how to strike a balance between fulfilling your academic obligations and making money to build wealth while studying in college.
No matter what degree you’re pursuing, please remember that your options after graduation are NOT limited to getting a job working for someone else. Also, even if you start your career as an employee, that doesn’t mean you can’t pivot and start a business of your own. The entrepreneurial path is not one that’s taught in many universities. But if you want to learn how to build a business and invest the profits, we’ve got you covered. Check out our YouTube channel and podcast for tons of free training. Plus, here’s a free video series that’ll help you get going.