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Ways to Make Money in College: Side Income for Students

Budgeting College Planning

5 minute read

College students don't need to be told how difficult it is to pay for school. Most students work all summer, saving everything they can to pay for college expenses in the fall. Some students also work during the school year at part-time jobs, side gigs, or work-study programs.

If you need to make money in college, you may be wondering which of these options would be best for you. Keep reading for tips on finding the perfect money-making opportunity for your schedule.

Pros and Cons of Part-Time Jobs for Students

In most college towns, it’s easy to find part-time work in restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores, etc. Unfortunately, juggling that job with a challenging college course load can be difficult. Here are some points to consider before taking a part-time position:

Pro: You’ll gain valuable work experience.

In addition to earning money for expenses, you’ll be learning new skills and building your résumé.

Pro: You’ll meet more people.

Working a part-time job usually gives you a chance to interact with people from parts of the community outside the college you attend. In addition to making new friends, you may also make connections that provide networking opportunities in your future career.

Pro: Some employers help pay for college.

Starbucks, T-Mobile, Home Depot, and many other national companies offer tuition assistance programs to part-time employees. This money is in addition to your regular salary.

Con: Working may interfere with your schoolwork.

For full-time students, it can be tricky to balance a regular work schedule with attending classes and completing assignments. If you’re unlucky enough to have an inflexible boss, you may have difficulty taking time off for big school projects or to prepare for exams.

Con: You miss out on extracurricular activities.

When all your spare time is devoted to working, it’s hard to take part in social activities with friends and classmates. You risk missing some of the best parts of college.

Con: You may negatively impact your financial aid.

Making too much money at your job could cause you to lose your financial aid eligibility. Be sure to consult your school’s financial aid advisor about employment implications.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study jobs can be a great way to make money in college, but not all students are eligible. The Federal Work-Study Program is only available to undergrad and grad students with financial need. Most of the jobs in the program are on campus or in community non-profit organizations.

Work-study positions are often better than regular part-time jobs because program administrators try to place students in jobs related to their future careers, and employers are generally more flexible in accommodating students’ class schedules. However, you won’t be allowed to earn more than the total amount of your Federal Work-Study award.

Side Income Ideas for Students

If you don't have time to work specific hours at the local coffee shop, there are ways to make money in college — without a job. Sure, no one will give you a pile of cash for doing nothing. But, there are ways to earn money on your schedule, possibly without leaving your dorm room and definitely without committing to a demanding boss.

1. Turn Your Hobby Into a Side Hustle

Are you creative? Sell your custom-painted jeans, handmade jewelry, or carved wooden airplanes online. Open your own virtual shop on sites such as Etsy or My Crafts.

2. Get Paid to Watch Videos and Take Surveys Online

You’ve probably heard about taking online surveys in exchange for cash or gift cards. Some online marketers have ways you can earn money as a student from the comfort of your dorm room or apartment. Sites such as InboxDollars or PrizeRebel will pay for your feedback on movie trailers, video games, marketing emails, and more.

3. Become an Online Tutor

If you have good Wi-Fi, you can work as a tutor from anywhere. Online tutoring services will connect you with other students in need of academic assistance. Thanks to the internet, a math major in North Carolina can get paid to tutor a struggling high school algebra student in North Dakota.

4. Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships can mean big bucks! You may already be the recipient of a sports, academic, or merit scholarship from your school, but don’t stop there. Make money in college by applying for more. Here’s an easy one to get you started: Enter to win the NC Assist $1,000 No Essay Scholarship. All you have to do is fill out a simple form online. There’s no essay to write, and you can enter every month for a new chance to win. Use the CFNC Scholarship Search to find even more money for college.

When Your Earnings Aren’t Enough

Even when you know how to earn extra money as a student, there may be times when it isn’t enough. That’s where NC Assist Loan comes in — to help you bridge the gap between the funds you have and what you need to cover your college expenses. NC Assist is a private, non-profit loan that offers competitive fixed-rate loans to North Carolina residents and out-of-state students attending eligible North Carolina schools.

Apply Now