Between tuition, books, housing, and living expenses, the cost of attending college keeps rising every year. With such high price tags, most students need to find ways to supplement their income and make money during school. This guide examines some of the best options college students have today for earning extra cash along with key considerations for each opportunity.
Table of Contents
1. Provide Private Lesson Instruction
One of the top ways college students can make money is by teaching private academic or skill lessons in areas they excel at like music, sports, test prep, coding, and more. Some key benefits:
- Leverage expertise – Teaching private lessons allows you to generate income from knowledge and talents you already possess.
- Set your own schedule – The flexible schedule means you can give lessons when it’s convenient for you in between classes.
- Earn attractive hourly rates – Experienced instructors can charge anywhere from $20 – $100+ per hour depending on their skills and credentials.
- Help others learn – The ability to positively impact others while getting paid is incredibly rewarding. Students can inspire the next generation!
- Build your resume – Private teaching experience is an impressive addition to your professional skills and demonstrates leadership abilities.
Platforms like Wyzant, TakeLessons, and Sidetrain make it simple to connect with students locally or online. If you have knowledge to share, teaching lessons is a great way to monetize your expertise while setting your own schedule.
2. Become a Rideshare or Food Delivery Driver
Driving for popular rideshare and food delivery platforms like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, GrubHub, Instacart and others is an easy way for college students to start earning quickly. Perks include:
- Supplement class schedules – Choose your own driving hours based around your academic schedule and availability.
- Fast pay – Most platforms enable cashing out earnings immediately or daily rather than waiting for a pay period.
- Lucrative incentives – Take advantage of peak period bonuses, streak rewards, signing bonuses and other promotional opportunities.
- Low commitment required – There’s no obligation to drive consistently. Toggle your availability on and off at will.
- Convenience – Once approved to drive, just open the app and start accepting orders when you want income.
Apps like Uber Eats and Doordash make activating as a driver quick and easy. The flexibility coupled with potential to earn over $20 per hour make rideshare and delivery work an appealing option for students.
3. Sell Your Crafts or Artwork Online
Students with a creative flair for crafting, art, DIY projects, jewelry-making, embroidery, quilting, pottery and more can sell their handmade items online using platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon Handmade. Benefits include:
- Channel creativity into income – Turn your unique talents and skills into cash instead of solely a hobby.
- Low startup costs – Aside from materials, you may only need to pay small fees to establish your online sales platforms.
- Set your schedule – You control your production timeline and can craft items around your course load.
- Global reach – Selling online means you can reach customers worldwide vs. just locally.
- Potential for passive income – Establish your shop once and continue generating sales 24/7.
For the creatively gifted, handmade shops give artists and craftspeople the potential to turn passions into profits with minimal startup costs and the ability to manufacture items on a flexible timeline.
4. Complete Paid Surveys for Money
In your downtime between classes, completing online surveys is an easy way to earn a small stream of income. Some key perks:
- Supplemental earnings – While income may be modest, a few paid surveys daily or weekly adds up over time.
- Flexibility – Surveys can be taken anytime, anywhere via computer or mobile app with no set hours.
- Topic variety – Share opinions on products, political issues, entertainment, brands and more to provide useful market data.
- Quick payouts – Many survey panels offer instant PayPal cashouts or gift card redemptions when thresholds are met.
- Reputable options – Trusted survey sites like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, and Inbox Dollars have paid members over $1 billion collectively.
While no get-rich quick scheme, occasional survey completion provides a simple way to profit during short breaks in your daily routine. Over time, earnings can really add up.
5. Offer Virtual Administrative or Assistant Services
If organized and computer savvy, provide freelance administrative, data entry, research, scheduling, social media upkeep or other virtual assistant duties clients will pay to outsource. Advantages include:
- Location flexibility – Services can be provided remotely so no commute is required.
- Limited overhead – No physical office space, equipment or supplies needed to get started.
- Well-paying – Many virtual assistants earn over $20 per hour for their technical skills and reliability.
- Broad clientele – Almost any business or busy professional could benefit from delegating basic tasks to you.
- Relevant experience – The skills gained and professional contacts established can enhance your resume and career prospects.
Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer connect independent contractors with clients needing help, making getting started easy. If you’re organized and detail-oriented, providing virtual admin services is a professional way to monetize your free time and abilities.
6. Get Paid for Taking Notes in Class
For students who diligently take thorough class notes, selling them to other students who need high-quality notes is a simple way to leverage your hard work for money. Popular note-selling platforms include:
- Stuvia – Global marketplace connecting students seeking notes with note creators. Sellers keep 70% of earnings.
- Nexus Notes – Takes a 35% commission from note sales facilitated through its platform.
- StudySoup – Popular site enabling students to sell notes directly to classmates in need. Pays up to $500 per document uploaded.
- GradeBuddy – Specializes in buying notes for major undergraduate college courses. Creators are paid up to $40 per document.
For good notetakers, platforms like these monetize your conscientious class attendance and thorough notes while helping fellow students learn and study more effectively.
7. Find a Work-Study Position
For eligible students, work-study programs provide paid part-time jobs conveniently located right on campus. Typical benefits include:
- Flexible scheduling – On-campus employers understand your class schedule and work with it.
- No commute – Positions are accessible by foot between lectures for quick shifts.
- Relevant options – Jobs ranging from office assistants to lab technicians to library workers provide career experience.
- Stable income – Once placed, work-study jobs offer steady pay for hours worked rather than unpredictable tips or sales.
- Valuable network – Connections made working on campus can be invaluable resources during school and after graduating.
Talk to your financial aid office to determine eligibility for federal or school-sponsored work-study programs offering a range of paid campus positions that give you priority consideration over other applicants.
8. Provide Freelance Writing Services
From blog posts to marketing copy to white papers and more, businesses constantly need quality web content. Offer your writing prowess to clients as a freelance service. Pros include:
- Well-paying – Experienced freelance writers can charge $50 or more per hour depending on their niche. Entry rates still average $20 per hour.
- Sharpen writing abilities – The practice strengthens your written communication talents across contexts.
- Build a portfolio – Published work provides writing samples to demonstrate your skills and expertise to prospective employers.
- Client variety – Almost any type of company, website or publication needs fresh content created regularly.
- Location flexibility – Writing services can be delivered entirely remotely without the need to meet clients in person.
9. Resell Thrift Store Finds for Profit
Frequent thrift stores and garage sales for unique vintage and designer items you can resell on platforms like eBay, Poshmark, Mercari or Facebook Marketplace. Benefits include:
- Low startup costs – Just the price of the inventory you source, no overhead needed. You likely already own a smartphone for taking photos of items.
- Tap into resale mania – The popularity of resale shopping continues rising. Platforms make cashing in on this demand easy.
- Use leverage – The huge audiences of sites like eBay and Poshmark enable exposure of your goods to thousands of buyers.
- Learn entrepreneurial skills – Successfully sourcing and upselling inventory develops useful skills running any future business.
- Unlimited earning potential – Your income scales directly in proportion to the volume and value of inventory you’re able to source and sell.
With a bit of shopping expertise and good photography, this makes for a fun and lucrative way for shopping enthusiasts to monetize their talents.
10. Participate in Medical Research Studies
Qualifying for participation in medical research studies conducted by labs, universities, and pharmaceutical companies can be an impactful way to earn extra income quickly. Typical benefits:
- Decent hourly pay – Studies compensating participants $10-$20 per hour depending on involvement level are common. Long-term studies pay even more.
- Contribution to science – You directly enable important medical research that may help develop life-changing treatments.
- Minimal commitment – Many studies require just a day or a few hours of your time at one or a few appointments. Short-term trials are plentiful.
- Wide eligibility – Studies involve medication trials, surveys, testing devices/technology and more. There’s broad need for different populations.
- Easy application – Platforms like ClinicalTrials.gov and ResearchMatch make finding studies recruiting in your area simple.
If not uncomfortable with basic medical procedures, participating in studies helps advance scientific research while supplementing your income. Many studies work with student schedules.
Key Considerations When Making Money in College
When evaluating options to make money as a college student, be sure to:
- Check how and when you’ll get paid – Make sure options align with when you need funds.
- Understand tax implications – You’ll likely need to report income and potentially pay taxes depending on amount earned.
- Consider skill level required – Choose opportunities well-matched to your current abilities and capacity for learning on the job.
- Factor in schedules – Ensure ideas fit within the constraints of attending classes and keeping up with coursework.
- Compare potential incomes – Weigh projected earnings against required time investments. Calculate your effective hourly wage.
- Assess life balance – Be cautious about overcommitting. Your studies ultimately need to take priority over outside work.
Choosing opportunities well-suited to your skills, schedule, and financial needs ensures making some extra money enhances rather than distracts from your academic journey.
Frequently Asked Questions About Making Money in College
What jobs pay the most for college students?
Some of the highest paying jobs for college students based on average hourly wages include:
- Private lesson instructor – $20-$100 per hour teaching academic, music, sport or skill lessons
- Freelance writer – $25-$60 per hour writing website content, marketing materials, etc.
- Virtual assistant – $15-$40 per hour providing administrative, social media, research support
- Rideshare driver – $10-$30+ per hour with promotions providing rides or deliveries
- Web developer – $20-$50 per hour building websites and custom apps and databases
- Tutor – $15-$40 per hour tutoring classmates in academic subjects
- Bartender – $10-$30+ per hour working events and peak nights with tips
Leveraging skills and knowledge tends to be the most lucrative. But even unskilled options like rideshare driving can earn $20+ per hour at peak times.
What type of side job interferes least with school?
The best jobs for college students that provide flexibility around class schedules include:
- Rideshare driving – Toggle availability on/off whenever needed
- Online tutoring – Control when lessons are scheduled
- Freelance writing – Set own deadlines
- Lesson instruction – Schedule students before/after classes
- Paid survey taking – Complete during short breaks anywhere
- Reselling items – Manage your own inventory sourcing and sales pace
- Medical research studies – Schedule appointments when time permits
Ideally, look for gig-based, on-demand, or appointment-based opportunities allowing you to work at times most convenient for your academic schedule. Avoid jobs with rigid hourly shifts.
How many hours should a college student work?
Most experts recommend college students work no more than 15-20 hours per week. Benefits of limited hours:
- Prevents taking on more than you can handle alongside a full course load.
- Less risk of burnout compared to working full-time while attending school.
- Maintains strong academic performance since studies remain the priority.
- Allows sufficient time for extracurricular activities, socializing, and adequate sleep.
Working 1-2 short 5 hour shifts on evenings or weekends is often sustainable without major impacts on student success. Limiting involvement also ensures jobs don’t fully distract from making the most of the college experience.
Is making money online really viable for students?
Yes, there are many legitimate ways students can earn money online conveniently from their computer or smartphone:
- Teaching virtual lessons via video chat on platforms like Sidetrain and TakeLessons
- Freelancing services like writing, design, programming, etc. using sites like Upwork and Fiverr
- Selling products on online platforms like eBay, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace
- Completing paid surveys during spare moments through sites like Survey Junkie and Swagbucks
- Providing virtual assistant services to clients needing admin help
The key is vetting sites carefully for legitimacy and taking advantage of the abundant ways the internet enables working and earning from anywhere. With so many virtual income streams, making money online as a student is definitely viable.
Final Thoughts on Making Money in College
The ideas in this guide provide a starting point for identifying lucrative ways to supplement college expenses or spending money in a way that aligns with your unique skills, interests, and availability.
No matter which option you choose, be sure to balance it with your academic commitments to avoid burnout. Your studies and degree should remain the top priority over any outside jobs.
Money earned during college provides useful lessons in time management, responsibility, and personal finance that serve graduates throughout life. But don’t let the desire for extra income cloud your judgement. Focus first on excelling in your classes to ensure you get the high-quality education you’re investing in.