There’s no denying that college is expensive. Whether your syllabus requires you to buy $300 worth of textbooks or you need your favorite coffee house beverage to get moving each morning, it’s always nice to have a little extra money on hand. That's why it's so important to know how to make money in college.
The good news is you’ve got several options for bringing in extra cash, from traditional work-study jobs to more creative ways to fatten up your wallet. Read on to learn how to increase your income in college.
Before Jumping in, Consider the Following
Every student’s money situation is different — some have scholarships, some take out student loans, and some have parents who foot the bill. Here's what you need to know before you get started:
How Much Money You Need to Meet Your Needs
Many students, especially incoming freshmen, aren’t used to budgeting.
ScholarShop and the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) created a crash course in money management to help college students learn to take control of their finances.
This resource is filled with useful tips on how to set financial goals, organize financial records, cut expenses, set up a checking account and decide between residence halls or off-campus living.
Determine how you can meet your money needs in a couple of different ways:
- Talk to your parents or anyone else who contributes to your education and determine how much they’re willing to give you.
- Consider other sources, such as scholarships and loans.
- In addition to tuition, list all expenses that you anticipate, such as textbooks, transportation, meals and clothes.
- Don’t forget to leave room in your calculations for fun activities.
Once you know how much money will come in and how much you need for expenses, you can determine how much more you still need to make ends meet.
Number of Hours You Can Commit Per Week
Classes and trips to the library may keep you busy, but extracurriculars and a vibrant social scene can take up even more time. To figure out how many hours you can carve into your schedule for work, set your priorities and determine how much time you can actually commit to a job.
You might be able to work full time during your college years, but
A Fair Warning
Don’t be fooled by get-rich-quick schemes. You may see ads that promise you’ll make thousands “stuffing envelopes from home,” but good luck seeing the money materialize. Do your homework and be on the lookout for Ponzi and pyramid schemes. If a job offer seems too good to be true, it’s most likely a scam.
If You’re Looking for a Part-Time Regular Job
Once you’ve determined your financial needs and how many hours you can commit to a job, look for traditional part-time jobs available on most campuses.
Work for Your School
On-campus jobs make it easier to fit your working hours around your class schedule and school breaks. The federal work-study program provides part-time jobs for undergraduates and graduate students who demonstrate financial need.
Check with your school’s financial aid office to see if you qualify for work study. If you don’t qualify, find out about job openings on campus through your school’s student employment office. Your professors may also know about jobs in their departments. A job related to your major can give you relevant work experience and help you build a strong resume for your post-graduation job search. Unfortunately, many of these campus jobs don’t pay much more than minimum wage.
For a little more money, you could find a part-time job as a tutor. If there’s a subject you’re particularly good at, you could help struggling students meet their goals and reinforce your own knowledge. Check into tutoring programs on your campus to see if you qualify.
Work Part-Time Anywhere around Campus
An off-campus job is also a possibility. If you can snag a flexible part-time job at a coffee shop or wait tables in a restaurant, you’ll gain valuable customer service experience. Part-time retail can also help you build customer service skills.
Or look into any other jobs advertised around your college town. Just be sure you can balance work and school.
Avoid Common Job Application Mistakes
Hiring managers toss job applications into the wastebasket all the time because of tiny spelling or grammatical errors. If you show sloppiness in any way, hiring managers might wonder what else you’ll be careless about on the job. Avoid these common job application mistakes:
- Not following instructions on the job posting or application form
- Leaving fields blank on the application
- Not explaining gaps in employment
- Turning in the application late
- Not checking for spelling and grammatical errors
- Failing to tailor application materials to each job
- Not including all required attachments
If You’re Looking for Creative Side Hustles
There are many creative ways to boost your income, whether you prefer to sit alone in your dorm room or expand your horizons beyond campus. The sky’s the limit, so start thinking like an entrepreneur.
Use the Internet
Another way to make money is to freelance your writing, graphic design, photography, videography, music or voiceover talent. Two of the biggest websites for finding freelance jobs are Upwork and Fiverr. These jobs are flexible, and if you can develop a client base, you can continue to freelance after college.
If you like arts and crafts — painting, drawing, knitting — you can always create something unique and sell it on Etsy.
Drive Up Your Income
If you have a car, a smartphone and a good driving record, you can make a lot of extra cash as a Lyft or Uber driver (you have to be 21 years old to drive for Lyft). Both companies connect drivers with riders via an app — you just choose the hours you want to work. You can get paid instantly and can keep all the tips you make. If you’re worried about personal safety, both companies do background checks and make safety a top priority. See Lyft or Uber for more details.
Get Paid for Delivery
Similarly, you can make extra money delivering groceries or takeout orders. For example, Shipt is a membership-based grocery marketplace that delivers fresh foods and household items. You can set up your own hours and experienced shoppers can earn up to $22 an hour.
Babysit or Care for Pets
If you have transportation and are good with children or pets, visit Care.com to find jobs close to campus. It’s free to join — just fill out the online profile and start looking. All the details are online. You can also create an affordable, professional-looking business card detailing your price for babysitting or dog walking, along with your contact information.
Combine that with a creative flyer about yourself and your skills as a caretaker and pass them out to people you meet or put them in mailboxes in nearby neighborhoods. It may take a little time to build a base of preferred customers, but once you connect with a few good families, word-of-mouth can keep you as busy as you want to be.
If you have a little money to spare, it’s a good idea to invest in the stock market. But do your homework first and learn how to start investing. You’ll find helpful tips on how to set goals, choose a strategy and open a brokerage account. Rewards can be great with stocks but keep in mind that there is risk involved. The best rule of thumb: Never invest money you can’t afford to lose.
Make Ends Meet in College
Juggling a part-time job and college may be challenging at times, especially when a semester heats up with projects, papers and exams. But with a little creativity and patience and a budgeting crash course, you may get very skilled at making ends meet. You may even find yourself ahead of the game when it comes to your finances.
College is a great time to get into the habit of saving as well as investing. Benzinga offers some helpful tips about the best way to save money. Certain budgeting apps can also learn your spending behavior and automatically allocate money to your savings accounts.
There’s no end to the creative ways you can make extra cash. Start brainstorming and you’ll soon be on your way to profitable college years.
Best Strategies for Making Money in College
|Federal work study||Easier fit with class schedule||Lower wages|
|Tutor||Flexible hours; pays more||May not be a program at your college|
|Off-campus job||Higher wages; can gain customer service skills||Shifts may be longer than desired|
|Sell textbooks online||Can recoup some money spent on books each semester||Takes a little time and effort|
|Freelance||Flexible; can be good money||Takes time to build a client base|
|Drive or delivery||Work the hours you want, get paid instantly||Personal safety could be an issue|
|Babysit or pet care||Can work whenever you want, good money||May take time to build a base of preferred families|
|Invest in stock||Could make a good return on your money||Risk involved due to market swings|
How much money should a college student earn?
A college student should earn the amount of money they need for their circumstances. For instance, if you need to earn about $10,000 a year, you can get a job that pays $11 an hour and meet your goal.
How can I make $500 fast?
To make $500 fast, you can use some of the side-hustles mentioned in this article. Delivering food, shopping for groceries, or selling personal items on eBay and other sites are quick ways to earn money.
How can a full-time student make money?
A full-time student can make money by getting a job close to campus, qualify for work study, or sell old clothes and textbooks.