College can be a stressful time in and of itself—from cramming for exams to juggling classes, sleep, and socialization, it requires you to manage your time in a way you never really had to before. For many people, college is also the first time they’ve had to live on their own and handle their own finances.
This can cause a lot of stress, especially at a time when cost of living is high. You may also be concerned about whittling down the mountain of student loans looming in your future.
However, traditional jobs often have rigid hours that don’t fit around your schedule—or they limit you to minimum wage—which is why the perfect solution is finding a flexible way to make money in college without a job. Fortunately, there are many things college students can do to make money on the side in college.
Here, we’re going to explore how to make cash fast for college students with 11 ideas. These quick ways to make money in college will let you work within your schedule so that you don’t have to miss classes to make rent.
Best Ways to Make Money in College (When You’re Broke)
They say it takes money to make money—but what if you don’t have any money to start with? Luckily for you, there are several flexible ways to make money in college when you’re a broke college student and need money fast. Later, we’ll also cover ideas to make money in college if you already have some savings you can leverage.
1. Sell Your Knowledge
Are you academically inclined or ahead of the curve in certain subjects? There are a lot of ways to make money during college by drawing on the hard work you’ve put into your studies.
A lot of people struggle with academic subjects, especially things like math and science, so if you’re good at these skills, you can potentially make a lot of money just by sharing the gift of knowledge with your classmates. Spread the word with fliers around campus, posting on your college social media groups, and (of course) telling your friends.
This idea to make money in college isn’t limited to academic subjects, either. If you’re a good guitarist or pianist, you can give lessons to children and students near you. Or, if you are experienced with a niche topic, you might also consider selling your knowledge in courses on sites like Skillshare and Udemy.
2. Freelance With Your Skills
This is how I got myself through college and started to build my freelance career, so I absolutely recommend giving it a shot. I won’t claim it’s the easiest way to make money on the side in college—there are a lot of logistics involved like finding clients, writing proposals, meeting deadlines, managing taxes and invoices, and so on—but it does teach you real-world skills and helps you build valuable connections. I still work for some of the clients I got in college!
There’s a large market of people on the internet who are looking to outsource tasks from programming to graphic design to content writing (who says English majors can’t make money?).
From freelance-specific sites like Fiverr and Freelancer all the way to broader communities like Reddit, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with these potential clients.
Over time, it’ll become even easier as you build a worthwhile portfolio that shows off everything you can do. Depending on your skill level, availability, and the rates your clients agree to, this is a potential way to make a lot of money in college.
If you don’t have many marketable skills at the moment, take a look anyway and see what things you could learn in order to make money as a college student online. (Doing this research might even help you choose your elective classes, e.g. Intro to Programming or Writing for the Web.)
3. Sell Plasma
On one hand, it sounds a bit dystopian and vampiric that you can actually sell your blood to make money at school. But if you think about it another way, it’s a wonderful thing to do for others and a fairly universal way to make money (after all, blood is something that everybody has—and you’re young, you’ll make more).
Plasma is the viscous and clear part of the blood, and it’s an extremely helpful medical resource for people with various different chronic diseases.
Selling plasma is fairly painless, both literally and figuratively. Normally, you’ll go in and have a physical. After a short foray into your medical background, you’ll be seated in a room with a bunch of machines and other donors.
A small needle is inserted into your arm and then you just sit there for about an hour. Many plasma places will let you donate twice per week, and this can be an extra $50-$100 in your pocket depending on how much your local plasma clinics pay out. Some people report bruising or tenderness at the needle site afterward, but it tends to get easier every time.
4. Make Use of Your Car
Driving jobs like deliveries can run up a car’s mileage, so they usually aren’t recommended for new cars because it reduces the value faster. Many college students, though, drive a used car, which means that this might be a perfect flexible way to make money in college!
There are several app-based courier-style jobs that will pay you just to drive things from place to place in a timely fashion. Delivery apps for college students to make money this way include Postmates, DoorDash, Grubhub, UberEats, Instacart, and Shipt.
On average, people make about $10 to $15 an hour doing this sort of work. Of course, it’s more consistent in places where there are more people. Since college towns usually have a pretty decent population, these can be a good way to make side cash—especially since there’s a sizeable market for food delivery from your tired (or drunk) fellow students.
5. Offer a Helpful Local Service
There’s always a demand for services like dog-walking and babysitting, especially in metropolitan areas. Try looking around for opportunities near you. These don’t cost you anything, and with something like babysitting (or house or pet-sitting), it will often be a pretty low-profile job that effectively acts as downtime for you to study. Two birds with one stone!
Depending on your area, there will also generally be a lot of open opportunities for menial labor on sites like Craigslist. People will need things like brush removed from their property or their yard mowed, and they’re willing to pay you to do it. This sort of simple work can be a great opportunity for you to make some pocket money in college or to supplement a summer job.
You often don’t even have to market these services yourself, thanks to several gig-economy apps for college students to make money with these services. Look into TaskRabbit, Wag!, Rover, Gigwalk, Care.com, UrbanSitter, and Handy.
6. Take Surveys
This is one of the really easy ways to make money in college, but the tradeoff is that you probably won’t earn a lot with it. That said, it definitely adds up over time, and occasionally you’ll find a survey with a pretty large payout.
You can find a variety of sites online that will pay you for your thoughts. I personally recommend Survey Junkie because I’ve tried it and find it safe and easy to use, and it usually has surveys available on any given day. Doing a few surveys every day between classes or during lunch at the dining hall could earn you a not-insignificant chunk of cash over the long run. If you can make even $5 a day, that’s $150 a month, which definitely isn’t chump change.
7. Teach English Online
In places where English isn’t widely spoken, many parents want their children to grow up with a grasp on the language so they have a leg up on the competition. This is where you come in.
If you’re a native English speaker, you can often find a position with one of many companies teaching English to children in places like China. Often these companies will have predefined lesson plans ready for you, which will make your job even easier.
While some of these jobs will require that you already have a bachelor’s degree, others (like QKids) do not. In the end, people are generally just looking for the best possible quality education for their children, and you just might be the person to give it to them.
More Ideas to Make Extra Money in College (When You Have a Little Already)
Remember our old phrase “it takes money to make money”? Well, let’s say that you do already have a little bit of start-up capital (and I mean a little bit; it doesn’t take much to get started with these methods). If you’re up for it, you can plant those small seeds and watch them grow with these next four ideas to earn money while in college full-time.
8. Buy and Flip Items
Flipping is a super simple concept that can net you a lot of profit. If you’ve ever heard that saying “buy low, sell high” about the stock market, flipping is sort of the same idea. You look for things that are good deals, maybe do a little work to them to improve their condition, then sell them off for more than you paid for them. It’s a pretty simple concept, but it also requires background knowledge and good research and sales abilities.
The most foolproof way to manage flipping is to search for items you’re familiar with, be it video games, vintage clothing, or technology. Lots of people will sell things at yard sales (or on Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace) without knowing how much they’re actually worth. If you spot items at a price you think is undervalued, snap them up and relist them yourself on other platforms. Locally, you can also look for furniture that’s cheap or free, then paint or reupholster it and resell it. You can make a massive profit for only a little bit of your time and money.
9. Monetize a Craft
If you have an artistic flair, you can easily invest in skills like painting, calligraphy, sewing, or jewelry-making in order to create physical products that you can sell on storefronts such as Etsy. In fact, with a little business savvy, you can build an entire brand based around the things that you’re selling and eventually turn it into your own company.
This one will take a little bit of time, and like any business, there’s an element of risk that you may lose your financial investment. But you don’t have to shell out a lot of money to try and get started. Even something like $50 towards supplies can go a long way in terms of the products you’re making, especially when you consider that some things such as jewelry can have a pretty huge markup and still sell.
10. Be a Mobile Notary
Notaries make the world go ‘round, but they do it quietly in the background, which is why this idea to make money often slips under the radar. Depending on the specific restrictions in your location, there’s a pretty good chance that you can get certified as a mobile notary for people who may have difficulty getting out of the house and signing things for themselves, like people with disabilities or the elderly. Additionally, mobile notaries will often be called in for things like real estate dealings.
Becoming a notary is fairly simple and ultimately depends on your jurisdiction, but often only requires getting certified and maybe passing an exam or two. Relatively speaking, it’s not too steep of a financial investment, usually costing only between $50 and $300 once everything is accounted for. Most mobile notaries who make a solid plan for putting themselves out there will make that back within a couple of appointments.
11. Use Passive Income Techniques
If you have spare time and a little money to invest, you can use various different techniques to generate passive income (well, passive after you do the initial work to set it up). For example, you can start up a website full of reviews on a niche topic and do affiliate marketing, where people pay you to link their site or product in your articles and get conversions.
While this idea is a bit more intense, you can also look into dropshipping, where you act as a middleman between manufacturers and customers to sell products at a markup. You can ship right from your manufacturer to your customer without ever having to handle shipping yourself. This is easy to set up using platforms like Shopify, but you’ll need to market the products and take on some financial risk if your items don’t sell. Peter’s series on Amazon FBA is a good place to head for more information on setting up a dropshipping business.
As a broke student looking for quick ways to make money in college, the main thing you need is determination. What’s ultimately important is that you’re willing to put yourself out there and invest your time and effort to build a variety of income streams. After all, the opportunities are all around, and it’s up to you to seize them.
Kate is a writer and editor who runs her content and editorial businesses remotely while globetrotting as a digital nomad. So far, her laptop has accompanied her to New Zealand, Asia, and around the U.S. (mostly thanks to credit card points). Years of research and ghostwriting on personal finance led her to the FI community and co-founding DollarSanity. In addition to traveling and outdoor adventure, Kate is passionate about financial literacy, compound interest, and pristine grammar.