The Definitive Guide to Making Money in College


It’s no secret that most college kids spend most of their semester years broke and in debt. Some of them end up in serious financial trouble, so much so that ‘broke college student’ stereotype has been intertwined into our culture, with some wearing it as a badge of honor.

Most students pull through doing odd jobs like babysitting and tutoring. Their eventual goal is to finish school on time, find a rewarding career, get rid of debt (and there’s enough of that to worry about), and contribute to the economy in a meaningful manner.

When it comes to wealth, the quicker you learn how to acquire it, the better it is for your future self. Today, wealth is no longer strictly tied to your education – it depends on how you leverage the various money-making opportunities around you. Thanks to the internet, there are unlimited ways of tapping into passive income generation. The goal is to spend minimal effort while getting big rewards.

We think these 23 opportunities will help you generate meaningful passive income without sacrificing too much of your valuable time.

1. Get Paid to Take Online Surveys

It may not be much but completing online surveys generate enough cash to help anyone make ends meet.  Companies like Swagbucks, Toluna, and OnePoll work on behalf of leading companies. Their goal is to learn what you (their future customer) thinks about their products and services. Most millennials are bound to share useful tips that no machine learning algorithm with data-crunching abilities can ever learn. This is why you get rewarded for sharing your insights through polls, surveys, and more.

The most reliable of these companies is Swagbucks. They have so far paid over $600 million (that’s nine zeroes after the 6) in rewards to members from all over the world. You can get paid for taking offers, using search engines, and watching videos, among others.

2. Delivering Groceries

Delivering Groceries

Got some extra time to spare?

With Instacart, you could deliver groceries whenever you’re free, especially on the weekends. Simply log in to the app, choose an order, and get shopping.

The amount of money you earn depends on the order, the type of items delivered, driving distance, and the actual labor involved in delivering said items. Instacart provides you with an estimate of your earnings before you decide to take on a project. You get to keep 100% of the tips earned for a job well done.

Instacart also offers bonuses should you refer the app to their friends. It is worth noting that grocery shopping has become more and more popular as people become used to the idea of lazing around their couches all day. This means you should have plenty of money-making opportunities.

To get started, simply visit their website and provide all your basic information such as your name, telephone number, and email.  They may have specific criteria that you’ll have to meet, such as the type of phone you’re using, its reliability, and more.

You can learn more here.

3. Rent Your Car Out

This is a great option for college kids who don’t travel around very often, have access to their own car, and mostly live on campus. If you fall into this group, then you can make some extra cash by renting your car out to an app like Turo.

An average Turo user stands to earn around $700 per month, which a pretty big deal. In order to sign up, you’ll have to provide some basic information about yourself and the car.

You can choose your own car rental rates and availability. Alternatively, and this is the better option, you can let Turo automatically decide the best rates for you based on the make and model of your car, current demand in your area, and a few other factors.

You can also configure a number of things, such as how far in advance people need to rent your car, whether or not they can book instantly, and more.

Before you can hand over your car, you’ll have to go through a verification process. The first payment will take 3 days to deposit into your account after the end of the trip. All subsequent payments will reach your account in 3 hours.

4. Walk Someone Else’s Dog

dog walking

Even the most low-maintenance dogs need to be looked after by their owner, and that requires a lot of time and money. Most people don’t get enough hours in the day for any quality me-time, much less time to devote to their dog – if it were only as simple as cuddles and hugs. This is where you come in (if you’ve got the spare time, that is). You can find many dogs sitting gigs on places like Facebook and Craigslist, but they’re not always safe or reputable.

A good option is to sign up to be a dog sitter with Rover. Rover connects you with other dog owners in your area. Prepare to spend several hours with the dog if you want to make meaningful earnings.

Rover lets you offer services like doggy daycare, house sitting, drop-ins, and boarding, among others. The verification process for Rover is a little tough though and you’ll have to cough up a $25 background checking fee. This is what makes the app so safe (for the dog owner, the dog, and the dog sitter).

Click here to sign up with Rover.

5. Use Cash Back Apps and Sites to Earn Money

There are many surprising ways to get your money back by making simple tweaks to your online shopping. So the next time you go on a shopping spree, use an app like Rakuten to help you save big time with coupons and cash in on discounts.

With Rakuten, you won’t have to do all the hard work by tracking individual discounts on every single item out there, Rakuten does all the heavy lifting for you. If used right, Rakuten can help you get up to 40% of your cash back. They work with major retailers like American Eagle, Amazon, Sephora, and a lot more. To get the most use out of your Rakuten account, make sure to install the free browser extension.

You can create your free account with Rakuten here.

6. Sell Used Books Online

Sell Used Books Online

Between high school and college, you’re probably sitting on a number of textbooks that have outlived their usefulness. You really don’t have a convenient option of getting rid of these books outside of giving them away for free or selling them to other students.

Selling these books to people you know is easier said than done, for one, they probably don’t need the books, and secondly, the school probably already has moved on to a newer edition of the book. This means you’ll have to sell the book at the fraction of the price.

However, you can get a better deal online with services like BookScouter. The website uses its proprietary search engine to sift through over 30 vendors to offer you the best deal for your book. Simply provide them with your book’s ISBN number.

Once you’re satisfied with the price, you can choose your vendor, ship the book for free, and get paid in as little as three days (the last bit depends on the vendor).

Pro Tip: Once you’ve sold your own books, try to get your friends and neighbors to sell their books to you for a small price. Now sell these newly acquired books on BookScouter for profit.

Click here to start selling on BookScouter.

7. Use Facebook Ads for Local Businesses

Social media allows businesses to cast a wide net when targeting potential clients. We’re no strangers to Facebook Ads while scrolling through our daily feed. These ads are designed to target users based on their online behavior. So if someone was searching for ‘shoes’, they’ll be shown advertisements for shoes until they show interest in something different.

Running successful ads on Facebook is no easy task either. It requires knowledge of how Facebook works and a fairly accurate idea of what the younger generation likes. Most businesses have no idea how to approach Facebook Ads and require help from someone who’s ‘in the know’. Because college students are usually in the loop about the latest trends, they can help business owners get in front of people and reach a much larger audience.

Facebook Ads are not cheap and each click could cost several dollars. This means that each ad must be properly optimized and must use the right combination of ‘buzzwords’ and ‘trigger words’ to attract qualified leads. You could help businesses create optimized ads that give them the greatest return for their money. If they get good results, they’ll keep coming back for more.

Learning Facebook Ads is simple enough. We recommend setting up an ad yourself (on a cheap budget) to get properly acquainted with the platform.

8. Become a Freelancer

A successful freelance career could give you a net worth of over $100,000 easily, provided you’re really good at your job. Since most gigs start at $5, companies can afford to experiment with your services. If you fail, it was only $5 and they’ll simply move on. If you prove to be great at what you do, you’ll get good reviews and repeat clients.

Most small businesses don’t have the budget to hire an in-house graphic designer, content writer, SEO expert, or a marketer. This is where you can come in. Most of these skills can be picked up with the help of free online courses on YouTube.

Another great idea is to become a ‘virtual assistant’ for a business. This job has a very broad set of requirements where you can manage a company’s social media profiles, handle customer service, write content, design graphics, and a lot more. Most businesses outsource these tasks anyway, and are looking to find a service provider who can offer reasonably good quality without breaking the bank.

You can sign up with a platform like Fiverr and Upwork. It may take you some time before businesses start noticing you though. Try to rack up as many 5 star reviews as possible to stand out.

9. Set up a Website and Monetize It

Set up a Website

Thanks to drag-and-drop builders like WordPress and Elementor, it is now possible to create professionally designed websites without learning any kind of code whatsoever. You don’t even need website development experience. We’ve written extensively on website creation for beginners, you can check them out here.

When setting up a website, it is very important to get the basics right. This includes things such as onsite SEO, website loading speed, menus for navigation, and the overall design of the website. Once the basics are out of the way, it’s time to start writing content.

There is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to writing content. Our recommendation is to find a niche that you’re passionate about and start covering all the latest trends related to it. If you’re consistent and persistent enough, it won’t take you long to get attention from search engines and humans alike.

Once your website gets enough traction, you can start monetizing it through various advertisement platforms like AdSense, Taboola, and Outbrain.

10. Become a Freelance Writer

Speaking of content writing, you can easily become a freelance copywriter. There are no prerequisites and no barriers to entry.

Of course, you get bonus points for having a major in relevant areas like journalism or English, but that isn’t necessary. If you’re a food enthusiast, it makes sense to write for a food blog. A good copywriter should be able to understand the subject matter and translate relatively difficult concepts to the layman.

11. Become a Tutor

Chances are, you’re reasonably competitive with at least one subject. It could be math, physics, english, chemistry, art, and more. If so, it makes a lot of sense to tutor your juniors in those areas. Most college campuses offer tutoring positions for interested students. You can ask your professor or the administrative department to find out if the college has open positions.

An easier alternative is to open an account with an online service like Chegg. Chegg is really popular with both students and professionals alike, so there’s a pretty big chance that you’ll find a large audience here. Subject matters include calculus, physics, chemistry, and French.

Chegg does all the heavy lifting when it comes to advertisement, so you won’t have to worry about marketing. All you have to do is sign up and start teaching your lessons online. The rates on Chegg start at $20/hr and payouts are deposited to your account every week.

12. Find Things You Can Flip for a Huge Profit

Flipping items for extra cash is an effective way to make money. There are a lot of opportunities and anyone can do it. You don’t need any experience, skill, or too much capital investment. What you do need is a well-trained eye for undervalued items that can be flipped at a high price.

Simply find a product that is being sold for dirt cheap, fix the problem with it (usually cosmetic), and then sell it for a profit. You may have to learn the intricacies of the item before you can flip it for a profit.  You can find used items at very reasonable rates on places like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

If possible, try to find used appliances because they can lead to significant profit. Most people want to dump their old appliances in favor of a new model. They don’t have the time to go through the hassle of moving the appliance and selling it. If you’re willing to deal with these issues yourself, you’re on your way to earn some serious profit.

13. Design and Sell Things (such as t-shirts, backpacks, phone cases, and more)

Most online companies have managed to scale up their manufacturing capabilities thanks to technology. The only thing they can’t automate is arts and crafts. You can offer these companies with design services and they’ll do all the back-end work for you. You can create artwork for t-shirts, backpacks, phone cases, and more.

Teespring is one such company that creates custom made t-shirts with help from thousands of independent designers. You can use their software to create a cool looking design. Once the design is complete, Teespring will provide you with an estimate for your product. You have complete control over the profit you want to make on each item, which will determine the final selling price.

To ensure you get maximum sales on your item, Teespring offers various marketing tools to boost your revenue. Here are two things you can do to maximize your earnings:

  1. Create a cool design: Create something that appeals to people.
  2. You can advertise on your own: Share your work on your social networks. If you have a large enough online following, you can maximize your earnings.

The best part about Teespring is that they take care of both order fulfillment and customer service. You can claim your earnings within 24 to 48 hours after your product is dispatched to the customer.

14. Proofread Papers

While proofreading lies under the domain of journalism majors and those with communications degrees, all you really need is good writing skills and a solid grasp on grammar. You can offer your proofreading services to people who are in a major that requires a lot of writing. Try to sweeten the deal by offering feedback and other notes, just make it clear that you won’t be doing the actual writing for them. This falls under content writing and that’s not the same as proofreading, unless someone buys the ‘complete package’, that is.

15. Set up a YouTube Channel

Set up a YouTube Channel

YouTube is the most popular video streaming platform on the planet. It earns billions of views and the dollars that come with it. They have almost all major companies placing ads on their platform. If you’re successful with your YouTube channel, you can rake in some of this cash for yourself.

Much like a blog, all you have to do is find a niche that you’re passionate about (with a large enough crowd) and then create and publish videos on a consistent basis. Of course this becomes much easier if you already have a major in video production or cinematography, but this is not a prerequisite. In order to become successful on YouTube, you have to learn what your audience likes and curate content that addresses their pain points.

There are many ways to make money on YouTube. You can monetize your videos and earn money on advertisements, add affiliate links in your video descriptions, promote your own products and services, and endorse products from companies who sponsor your content.

16. Become a Campus Tour Guide

If you love meeting new people and are passionate about your college, then you may want to become a tour guide for your campus. This is an easy job where your only goal is to show prospective students around and tell them why your school is so great. You can field questions from students and their parents. Most admission officers have enough responsibilities as it is and could use the extra help.

At the end of the day, this is a great way to inspire students and portray your college in a positive light.

17. Become a Notary and Loan signing Agent

Most college students haven’t even heard of this rewarding side hustle. Being a public notary or a loan signing agent is really effective at generating quick money, netting you around $50 to $150 per hour (or more) while you work on your own schedule. It is possible for students to become signing agents whenever they want. All you need is a notary commission (which you can easily get by submitting a simple application).

To become a loan signing agent, simply put your name in advertised databases and you’ll get a call whenever there’s an appointment in your area. You will have to become comfortable with paperwork (which is a very useful skill) and walk homeowners through the entire process.

In order to become efficient at your job, make sure to pick up on essential skills. A good place to start would be Loan Signing System. It teaches you all there is to know about loan signing and how to score a new job. Top earners are easily making over $100,000 per year.

18. Volunteer for Medical Tests

Volunteering for medical tests is an easy way to make some extra cash. Many studies need healthy volunteers to test novel medications and drugs. Pharmaceutical companies will try their product on you and monitor your body’s reaction to it. Regardless of the risks involved, there’s a lot of extra money lying around for trying something that has already been greenlit as ‘safe’ by experts.

19. Recycle Waste for Cash

Plastic pollution has spiraled out of control thanks to our needlessly excessive lifestyles. Did you know that by 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in our seas? This is a tragic reality of an increasingly industrialized planet. But we can ease the burden by recycling as much of this waste as we can.

You can collect the extra plastic waste, in the form of cans and bottles, and turn it in for about $2 per bag or more. Not only are you doing a favor to the local flora and fauna, you’re also making money.

The same applies to scrap metal. Since metal is more valuable, you’ll get paid a significant amount for collecting waste. Copper is one particularly valuable metal to watch out for.

20. Help Name a Business

Finding a catchy name for a business is one of the hardest things to do. Most people just aren’t creative and/or dread the prospects of brainstorming ideas for their business. But there are outlets that let you share in your ideas in exchange for money. SquadHelp and NamingForce are two places where businesses can hold contests for the best names, and the winner gets paid in money.

21. Sell an Online Course

If you’re particularly good at teaching, then you should try creating and selling online courses. You can do this relatively easily using sites like Udemy. They allow anyone with basic skills to create online courses and then sell it. Online courses exist for every type of niche and subject matter you can imagine, so don’t worry if your topic is too obscure. You’ll always find someone who wants to learn your trade.

22. Become a Voice Over Artist

Why would anyone get paid for doing voice-overs?

A cursory glance at the success of voice actors in video games and cartoons will reveal just how lucrative the prospect is. The truth is, businesses need someone with a great voice to provide them with narrations for advertisements, videos, and more. You can use softening inflections to change your pitch (there are courses that teach how) to deliver amazing results. All you need is a dedicated microphone at home and you’re good to go.

Fiverr and Upwork have a category for voice overs if you’re interested. These gigs can pay really well if you become popular enough.

23. Try Real Estate

Try Real Estate

We know what you’re thinking, “what does a broke college student have to do with real estate investment”? This question would have been valid had it not been for crowdfunded real estate platforms like FundRise and RealtyMogul. You can get started for as low as $500 and invest in various residential and commercial properties. It’s extremely easy to get started and the rewards are amazing.

Wrapping Up

These 23 ideas are just to get you started. No matter what your goals in life may be, there are virtually limitless opportunities to make extra cash while still in college. You could live a fulfilled life without accruing debt.

Got your own ideas? Feel we missed something? Or have general feedback for this article? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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