11 Proven Ways to Make Money in College

College is an exciting time filled with new experiences, relationships, and challenges. Unfortunately, it can also be a financial struggle. Studies show over 80% of college students take on debt and graduate with an average of $30,000 in student loans.

With tuition, housing, textbooks, and daily expenses, the costs really add up. Even with financial aid, loans, and family support, you may find yourself barely scraping by each month.

The good news is there are many smart ways to earn extra money as a busy college student. In this article, we will provide 11 proven methods that college students can use to earn extra income, slash expenses, and graduate with minimal debt.

Get a Part-Time Job

Getting a part-time job is one of the classic ways students make money. Working 10-15 hours a week doing something you enjoy can be a great way to cover your bases.

On-campus jobs in areas like the library, gym, cafeteria, or administrative offices have the benefit of flexibility and understanding when it comes to exam times. You’ll also meet new people and already be close to your classes and dorm.

Off-campus jobs can offer higher pay, and experience in fields related to your major. Popular options include retail shops, restaurants, coffee shops, receptionist work, golf courses, and more. Just be wary of time-consuming commutes.

No matter what, find a job that fits your schedule and interests. Having some spending money and padding for expenses will make college life much less stressful.

Find Work-Study Opportunities

Work-study is a government-funded program that helps students earn money through part-time work often on campus. Unlike regular scholarships which are gifted money, work-study gives you chances to work for hourly pay.

To qualify, make sure to fill out your FAFSA application on time. Based on your financial need, you may be offered federal or state work-study aid as part of your award package.

Many colleges also fund work-study programs. Check with your financial aid office to see what campus jobs, research positions, teaching assistants, or internships may have work-study openings.

These programs provide not just wages but priceless experience, so take advantage if you can.

Become a Tutor

If you’re a strong student in subjects like math, science, languages, or essay writing, consider tutoring others for pay. This is a common part-time job choice for college students that allows you to work around your own class schedule.

Check if your university has a peer tutoring program you can join. If not, register with local tutoring companies or advertise your services at nearby high schools and community centers. Make fliers offering private tutoring services in your specialty subjects and hang them on public bulletin boards.

The demand for tutors is huge, especially just before big entrance exams. You can earn upwards of $20 per hour tutoring!

Freelance Online

In the digital age, one of the most flexible ways to earn money is through freelance work online. Freelancing can be done on your own schedule from the comfort of your dorm or apartment.

So what kinds of work can students do? Some popular options include data entry, virtual assisting, web design, writing, social media management, graphic design, and more.

Sign up on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer to browse open gigs and projects. Make sure to build a strong profile showcasing your skills, experience, education, and reviews to win clients. Once your freelance career takes off, the income potential is limitless.

Participate in Focus Groups

Did you know you can get paid just to give your opinion? Marketing research firms frequently conduct focus groups to help businesses understand consumer perspectives. They recruit diverse people to join 90-minute group discussions and provide feedback.

Focus group members typically earn around $75-150 per session. Find opportunities by searching online for market research firms in your city. You can also check community bulletin boards, Craigslist, and university psychology departments.

Just a few focus groups per semester can give your bank account a nice boost!

Take Paid Surveys

In your downtime between classes, you can complete online surveys for quick cash. There are many survey sites and apps like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, SurveySavvy, InboxDollars, and more.

Most surveys pay $0.50 – $5 each and take just 5-20 minutes. Expect to earn $50-200 per month if you do surveys frequently.

While this won’t make you rich, it’s an effortless way to earn gift cards and spending money in your free time. Just make sure to avoid any surveys that seem scammy or ask for sensitive info.

Sell Your Work Online

Did you ace that English paper? Got some amazing notes from calculus class? Instead of letting those academic materials disappear into your hard drive, sell them online!

Sites like StudySoup and GradeSaver let students sell their study guides, notes, essays, lab reports, and more to earn cash. You set the price, upload your documents, and collect the profits each month.

You can also create educational content based on your skills and interests then sell online courses through platforms like Udemy or Skillshare. Audio lectures, worksheets, and videos can help others learn – while expanding your income.

Offer Services Through Apps

From driving to cleaning to running errands, apps make it simple to turn your time into money. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Uber and Lyft: Give rides around your college town for quick cash.
  • DoorDash and Instacart: Deliver food and groceries ordered through apps and earn per trip.
  • TaskRabbit: List your skills and get paid for handyman jobs, furniture assembly, yard work, etc.
  • Rover: Take care of people’s pets overnight or drop in for dog walking and visits during the day.
  • Care.com: Babysit kids, tutor, house sit, or care for the elderly.

Turn spare time between classes or on weekends into income via these handy apps. The flexibility makes it easy to work around your class schedule and social life.

Invest for Passive Income

While most income ideas require your time and effort, investing can generate money more passively – once you get started.

Apps like Acorns and Stash let you get into investing with just spare change. Connect them to your bank account and they’ll automatically invest your leftover “round ups” into diversified ETF portfolios.

Once you’ve built up some savings, consider opening a Roth IRA retirement account with an investing platform like Betterment or Wealthfront. Choose a target date fund aligned with when you plan to retire – an easy hands-off approach.

Focus on regularly contributing even small amounts, letting compound growth work its money magic over the decades you have until retirement age. Patience pays off with investing.

Cut Expenses

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” This classic saying still rings true during college when budgets are tight. Finding ways to cut your expenses can effectively give you more money each month.

On-campus housing and meal plans are obvious ways colleges get you. Split costs by getting roommates off campus and learning to cook bulk meals instead of paying for a meal plan.

Set budgets for discretionary spending on things like entertainment, clothes, and eating out. Being frugal about your daily Starbucks habit can easily save $50 or more a month.

Lastly, save money on expensive textbooks by buying used, renting, or seeing if your library has copies. You can also share books with classmates or photocopy only the sections you need.

Every dollar you can trim from your expenses equals more money in your pocket without working extra hours.

Apply for Scholarships

Sure, getting free money from scholarships takes effort. But time spent searching and applying pays off with thousands in savings – well worth it.

Start researching early and create an organized system to track deadlines and requirements. Fastweb, Unigo, and Cappex are great scholarship search engines to find a wide range of national and local opportunities.

Don’t rely solely on huge national awards – also seek out small local scholarships from community organizations, your parents’ employers, minority groups, etc. Every little bit adds up.

Put time not just into finding but thoughtfully completing applications. Follow instructions closely and craft strong essays and resumes. Scholarships are highly competitive, so make your application stand out.


College is too exciting of a time to be stressed about money. While you shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs on top of a full course load, finding one or two income sources can make a huge difference.

The most accessible options to balance studies with earning include part-time jobs, tutoring, paid surveys, and freelancing online. But don’t neglect tactics like cutting costs, applying for scholarships, and investing that compound over time.

With this list of 11 proven ways to make money in college, you can take control of your finances. Implement even a few ideas that fit with your interests and schedule, and you’ll find yourself graduating with far less debt.