There's no way around it: college is expensive. If you're a college student and you need to earn money for tuition and expenses - or you would just like to have a little more cash to spend on the weekends - here are a few alternative ways to earn an income.
- TutorIf you're proficient in a specific subject and you enjoy (or at least don't hate!) teaching, you can tutor other students at your school.
But the real money might be in tutoring schoolchildren who live in your college town. If they're struggling in an area or just need a little supplemental help to keep them on track they have parents who are willing to pay and often willing to pay a lot more than your on-campus peers. Approach local schools about tutoring possibilities or consider putting ads in your local paper, libraries, churches, pediatricians' offices, etc.
- Sell Your Student Game TicketsIf you attend a big-time football or basketball school you have free money literally in your hands. Because most students get either free tickets or the opportunity to buy extra tickets at discounted prices you can sell those tickets to out-of-town friends or online to fans willing to pay perhaps even more than face value. Check out your college teams' message boards, online forums, fan clubs and sites like Stubhub.com or Craigslist.org.
- Be The AdIn this economy any business targeting college students is looking for cheap ways to get their attention. That's where you come in. Consider a variation of this guy's idea and offer to advertise for local businesses or organizations by wearing a t-shirt with their message. Getting paid for getting dressed? Now that's a great way of earning an income. (Get more tips on keeping college affordable. Check out 5 Ways To Fund A College Education.)
If you're online a lot anyway and enjoy writing, consider blogging for bucks. It will take some real work to get it started, but if you can find a unique angle to draw readership you can make money through programs like Google Adsense, and AmazonAssociate's affiliate program. You can also identify potential advertisers through affiliate program aggregators like Affiliatescout.com. Get good enough and you may even draw the attention of advertisers who will pay to put ads on your site or give you free stuff for you to review.
- Sell Stuff
Sure, you can eBay a few things here and there when you no longer need them, but think about the potential customers right outside your door. For example, could you sell chips and drinks to tailgaters? What about becoming the late-night cookie-baking queen (and delivery service) on campus?
- Design School Stuff
Students, parents, alumni, staffers - there's a whole universe of people who are fans of your school and you can make money off them by designing stuff they'll buy, like t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, hats, jewelry. Sites like Cafepress.com and Zazzle.com allow you to quickly and easily upload designs and order products that you can sell online through your own website, on-campus at events or through local groups and organizations.
- Run ErrandsTake advantage of your flexible schedule and help on-campus staff or local residents by offering to run errands for them during their workdays. Throw in a little dog-walking and get paid to get some exercise at the same time! (Should you invest in yourself? Find out in Invest In Yourself With A College Education.)
- Get Paid For Your Opinion Or Participation
Professors have to get published in order to get tenure and part of that process often involves running studies - for which they need subjects. Check to see if there are on-campus studies that pay students for participation. Expand your scope and call local companies or organizations (businesses, associations, museums, hospitals, etc.) to see if they are running studies or organizing focus groups and if you could qualify for participation.
- Be A Valet
If you live in a house with adequate parking potential offer to save fans the headache of finding parking by renting out your driveway or yard spot on game days. (Is your kid the one headed off for higher learning? Check out these tips in Send Your Kid To College Without Going Broke.)
If you have a skill that you know other students or local residents may need or be interested in advertise for a small class, workshop or one-day seminar at a reasonable price. There's a potentially endless list of topics you could teach about - skiing, tennis, writing, acting, web design, knitting, cooking, weight training, scrapbooking, car repair, etc. If it goes well word-of-mouth advertising will boost your attendance and profits in no time.
- Sell Your SmartsYou're probably thinking this is a suggestion to tutor - and that may be a good way for you to make some money - but why work one-on-one when you can reach a wider audience? Instead of limiting the amount of money you can make to the hours you can provide one-on-one tutoring, advertise that you've aced a class (or more) and sell your notes and study tools to students who need the help.
- Organize A Trip
Find out if there are groups on campus that have a common interest and offer (for a fee) to make all the arrangements for a trip to the destination of their choice. It will take some work - including booking air fare, securing on-the-ground transportation (i.e. buses, taxis, etc.), reserving lodging and spots at local destinations, etc. - but it can be a fun way to earn some money and help out an on-campus group in the process. And you could even work out the terms of your agreement that you get to come on the trip for free!
Make sure you've included some trip insurance to cover you both financially and legally in the event that the trip doesn't go exactly as planned.
- Sell TextbooksYes, sell your textbooks back to recoup some of the money you originally laid out, but also offer (for a small fee) to collect other students' textbooks for re-sale to save them time (and earn you some money by keeping a small percentage of the sale). (Not all student loans are the same. Know what you're getting into before signing on the dotted line. Read College Loans: Private Vs. Federal.)
- Repair CarsIt's a sure bet that the majority of college students who have a car don't know the first thing about how to maintain them or make minor repairs on their own. If you do, you're in luck. Consider making a small investment in tools and supplies and then advertise for reasonably-priced onsite repairs and maintenance work like oil changes.
Before you set up a small business, begin advertising and start spending on supplies, check out your school's student policies to make sure you aren't running the risk of doing something that's been outlawed or find a creative way to honestly get around those requirements and earn a nice income.