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Clever Ways to Earn Money in College


Increased media attention to college tuition, student debt, and the struggling economy has motivated many students to practice wiser spending habits and look for ways to earn extra money. With a little research, creativity and resourcefulness, you can find a multitude of ways to fatten your wallet that fit your schedule, future goals or even your level of laziness!

Ways to earn money that build your marketable skills

  • Tutoring — Tutoring is one of the most popular ways for college students to earn extra funds, as illustrated by the fact that tutoring companies tend to cluster around college campuses. Tutoring is a great way to reinforce certain academic skills that are important for your own success in college. For example, English majors who tutor high school kids or even their peers in writing can learn a lot about creating a cohesive written argument. Similarly, math and science tutors often see their own conceptual understanding and problem solving skills improve when they review the fundamentals with their students. Look for tutoring positions at your college’s student learning center, or browse the web for tutoring companies in your area.
  • Research — According to Yahoo! Finance, networking with your college professors can help unearth research opportunities on-campus that can turn into a summer job or even a year-round part-time job. Depending on the field and required tasks, campus research can be a valuable addition to your resume. Furthermore, working with professors in your field of study can be enormously rewarding for your future academic goals. For instance, helping a professor with his or her medical research could lead to a letter of recommendation for grad school.
  • Video recording and/or campus tech supportIT support, technical services and multimedia projects are all becoming increasingly important at many companies. Gain marketable skills in these areas and more by finding tech-related part time jobs on your campus. Serving as the residential computer consultant at your dorm, manning the IT desk at your school’s library or tech center, or recording and editing videos of class lectures for your school’s disability or learning support center could help you improve your chances of landing a job post-graduation.

Earning money with little to no work

  • Surveys — Signing up with a reputable survey site can be an easy way to earn extra cash in your free time. According to Erin Huffstetler of, survey sites can offer cash, points that are redeemable for prizes, or entries into sweepstakes. Signing up to take these types of surveys is relatively simple; however, it is important to confirm that the survey sites you sign up for are not scams and keep your information secure. Huffstetler recommends that people look out for sites that ask for your credit card information or social security number, or which ask you to pay a fee up front in order to become a member. In addition, she advises people to not just sign up for the first few survey sites that appear from a Google search; instead, people should check out survey vetting resources such as SurveyPolice, Volition and The Frugal Living Forum.
  • Campus Studies — Have you ever gone into a bathroom stall on a college campus to find a flyer asking you whether you are interested in participating in a clinical trial or psychology department study? Taking down the number of such campus-based studies may actually lead to some easy cash and an interesting experience. According to MSN Money, college senior Caroline R. Tarpley earned $200 for participating in a sleep study at Boston University’s medical school. “It was well worth it,” she told MSN, “I just slept there, and they videotaped me.” While most studies are subject to eligibility requirements (for example a certain age range or demographic group), many offer good compensation and in some cases free services, such as in the case of some psychology or health studies. Of course and as always, make sure the studies you sign up for are conducted by reputable organizations, and don’t sign up for studies you are not 100 percent comfortable completing.

Sure, you can always go the traditional route and get a job waiting tables to earn cash in college. But if you’re looking to supplement your income or you just need odd jobs to make ends meet, there are plenty of creative ways to earn some extra money as you work your way through school.

About the Author:

Kaitlin Louie is a contributor to several websites, including She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Literature, and aspires to be a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction. She enjoys tutoring students in writing and social dancing on the weekends.

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