Creative Ways to Pay for College

There are some creative ways to pay for college that you might not have thought of

Flickr user Chris Hsia

Most people understand that having a job and earning scholarships certainly help pay for school. But sometimes working a part-time (or especially a full-time) job can clash with classes and homework. It can be beneficial to find some other source of income, even if it just means that you have some extra cash to go out with friends or buy healthier food for yourself (I’m looking at you, Ramen-lovers). Here are some creative ways to pay for college that you might be able to do for some income.

Sell Creative Things on Etsy

Etsy has opened up the hand-crafted item market by allowing people to shop all over the world from the comfort of their couches. What this means for you (if you are creatively inclined) is that you can market your projects. Keep in mind that you have to balance the time it takes to make whatever it is you are selling and schoolwork, but the schedule you make will be your own. It will also be a great outlet for stress relief because you’ll be doing something you enjoy!

Donate Blood / Plasma

Not recommended for anyone who hates needles or the sight of blood. Some college towns have centers like Biotest where you can donate plasma or blood for monetary incentive. They tend to have strict rules on being healthy and how many times per week/month you can donate. However, if you donate the max amount of times you are able to per month, you can easily add over $200 to your monthly income. The process usually takes somewhere between one and two hours, during which you can read and study. So while not the most relaxing idea for some people, it’s a great way to build additional money into your budget.

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Drive with Uber

If you are 21 or older and have a car registered in the state you go to school in, you can drive with Uber for extra cash. The draw of Uber is that you set your own hours and work as much or as little as you need. If you like driving, that is a plus. Uber laws differ from state to state, and some cities might not have it yet, so be sure to check whether it can be an option for you.

Become a Tutor

If you are strong in a subject, consider becoming a tutor! It’s a fun way to talk about topics that interest you, and with luck you’ll be able to share your excitement with whomever you are tutoring. You can work with other students at your college, or you can look around in the community. Some families will hire tutors to help their children get ahead in a subject or catch up in one. You can set your own rates when working with your peers (unless you are going through university channels, in which case the school might dictate your hourly rate).

Take Surveys

You’ll have to do a little research sometimes to make sure the survey site will reward you with something you can use, but this is a pretty easy way to earn cash or gift cards. Most sites will send you surveys through your email (I would recommend using an email other than your primary, otherwise you might miss important school-related messages). You can answer them on any device to earn points. Earn enough points to redeem for prizes. Example sites include MySurvey and Vindale Research. As with all websites, read the terms of participation carefully before submitting any personal information.

Let People Tour Your Dorm Room

Some universities and colleges have programs where you get paid to let prospective students tour your dorm room. The school/guides will let you know ahead of time when people will be sopping by so you can avoid an awkward encounter. They’ll probably ask that your room be clean for these tours, so don’t forget to do a little tidying up.

Enter Talent Shows and Contests

Look online for nearby talent shows and contests with cash prizes. Some will be limited to a specific artistic genre, such as painting, poetry, or comedy. Others might be a little broader and accept all types of performance work. Look for contests that have no or low entrance fees, as well as ones that award the second- and third-place winners to increase your chances of benefiting from participation.

GoFundMe or Other Fundraising

In this day and age, crowd-sourced funding is at an all-time high. I’ve seen classmates go on to study abroad programs because of it. It is a way to state your cause and get some help with school. GoFundMe is probably the most recognized of the crowdfunding websites. It allows you to provide a picture and background story along with your cause. It’s free to create and share the fund, but your donors will have about 8% of their donations taken for website fees. Since these are taken automatically, you won’t have to worry about a bill from the website.

Community Events

In addition to online fundraising, see if your community is able to help. Set up a bake sale, craft sale, car wash, anything you can think of really, in a public place (double check with your city that it is legal to do so) to engage with people walking by. Be honest about where the proceeds are going, and good luck!

And if you want help with more traditional financial aid, College Raptor has you covered. Use our free college match tool to discover financial aid packages schools could offer you!


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