For College Students

Earning Money for College Students

Time to earn some dough! Here’s how you can earn money to spend and save in college.


Before starting college, many students think that making money comes after graduation. But how do you pay for textbooks, transportation, or midnight snacks when you’re strapped for cash? Without money, it’s hard to cover college expenses. And let’s get real, making memories with friends is also a big part of the college experience, but that costs money, too.

To help you make ends meet and enjoy your college years, we’ve rounded up the best ways for students to earn money while in school. From traditional jobs to smart side hustles, these money-making tips will make you big bucks.

Benefits of Earning Your Own Money as a College Student

College is a transition into adulthood. It helps you prepare for the real world in more ways than one, including personal finance. During this time, young adults can figure out how to manage their money while they’re still in a safe environment – and it all starts with having a source of income.

Sometimes, students and their parents worry that a job could get in the way of a college education. But the reality is that many students can balance their education and maintain a source of income. It’s all about staying organized and establishing your priorities.

If you’re on the fence about working while you’re still a student, these are some of the pros of earning money during your college years:

  • You’ll have money for your personal expenses
  • You make good use of your downtime
  • You gain important work skills
  • You’ll gain a sense of independence
  • You can add the work experience to your resume
  • You learn how to manage your income
  • You can save money to start your adult life after graduation
  • You can get a head start on your investments

Ideas to Earn Money as a College Student

With so much business and many activities happening around college campuses, there are many ways for students to make money. It’s just a matter of figuring out what you’re interested in, what kind of jobs are available near you, and how to fit work into your schedule.

We’ve rounded them up by types of work, so you can find the right opportunities for yourself and make them a profitable experience.

Best On-Campus Jobs for College Students

Working right on campus makes it easy for you to take shifts between classes and maximize your time. Another perk of on-campus jobs is that many of them have downtime, so you can often read or do schoolwork when you’re there. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that!

While many school jobs are reserved for the Federal Work-Study program, others are available to anyone enrolled at school. These are some of the flexible opportunities that you can access through your college:

  • Gym receptionist
  • Librarian
  • Cafeteria server
  • Bookstore cashier
  • Mail room attendant
  • Teaching assistant
  • Campus tour guide
  • Resident advisor
  • Pool lifeguard

Best Part-Time Off-Campus Jobs for College Students

If you’re a busy student-athlete or have a heavy course load during the semester, you need a part-time job that accommodates your schedule. Although these jobs may require a bigger commitment from you, one of the benefits of off-campus work is that it tends to pay better wages than on-campus opportunities.

These are some part-time jobs that can get you a steady paycheck, accommodate your school schedule, and look good on your resume depending on your career path:

  • Restaurant host
  • Server
  • Barista
  • Retail sales associate
  • Security guard
  • Janitor
  • Bank teller
  • Bartender
  • Cashier

Best Side Hustles for College Students

Do you have coveted skills that could translate into a source of income? Don’t be shy to put them to work! The key to side hustles is to be entrepreneurial about them. It’s on you to figure out how to market those skills, how much they’re worth, and how to connect with those who need your services.

By using apps like Fiverr or posting flyers around your area, you can make the most of your talents as a freelancer. Best of all, you can take on as much work as you can handle, slow down during exams, or work weekends if you need to. 

Here are some of the most sought-after services that can help you earn an extra buck or two when you’re not in class:

  • Tutoring
  • Brand ambassador 
  • Babysitter
  • Pet walker
  • Photographer
  • Graphic design
  • Yoga instructor
  • IT support specialist
  • Translator

Best Remote Work for College Students

With your dorm room’s fast internet connection and excellent organization skills, your location is the least important thing. This makes it easy for you to connect with amazing companies that could be across the country or the globe. And in today’s market, many industries are open to hiring college students to work around their own schedules. It’s the best time to work from home or be a digital nomad!

By reaching out to your school’s career services office or searching through job sites, you can find remote opportunities like:

  • Web design
  • Blogger
  • Social media manager
  • Virtual assistant
  • Telemarketer
  • Bookkeeper
  • Influencer
  • Video editor
  • Voiceover artist

Best Summer Jobs for College Students

If you’re too busy throughout the school year, you’re not alone. Many full-time students choose to use the summer break to work and save money to cover their expenses during the semester. 

While some spend their summer as beach bums, others bank big during the break! This summer work schedule allows you to focus on your education and offers an opportunity to earn money to cover your personal expenses. Another benefit of making the bulk of your income during the summer is that you learn how to budget your funds and stretch them out.

If you’re looking for great summer jobs, these are great seasonal jobs that often hire college students:

  • Lifeguard
  • Camp counselor
  • Golf caddy
  • Ice cream scooper
  • Hotel receptionist
  • Travel blogger
  • Touring musician
  • Nanny
  • Farmhand

Best Opportunities for College Students with a Car

If you have a car in college, you’re lucky. But don’t just park it in the garage from Monday through Thursday and use it to go out on the weekends! Vehicles are assets that can make you big bucks. Wondering how? Here are some ideas:

  • Food delivery
  • Other delivery services
  • Rideshare driver
  • Rent your car
  • Wrap your car in advertising
  • Help people move
  • Shop for other people’s groceries
  • Offer elder transportation
  • Drive kids to after school activities

How to Ask Your Parents to Help You Earn Money

Earning money is the first step toward independence, but who says you’re too old to get help from your parents? Whether you need advice, coaching for job interviews, or ideas on how to make money, your parents are an excellent resource. They’ve got valuable life experience under their belt.

And once you have a source of income, your parents can also offer advice on managing your money. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them with questions about budgeting, saving, or investing your income.

If you’re looking for some financial conversation starters, these are some good ones:

  • What should I plan to do with my money?
  • How can I use money to make more money?
  • How much income do I really need to cover my monthly expenses?
  • What are some budgeting methods, and how do you find the right one for yourself?
  • What’s a realistic savings goal?
  • How do I stay motivated to live within my means?
  • What are some efficient cost cutting methods?
  • If you could change one financial decision, what would it be and why?
  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were my age?

Don’t sweat if your parents don’t know the answers to some of these questions. Instead, think of it as a great opportunity for you to learn together! You can do research, set time aside to talk money, and even create goals

A Reminder About Taxes

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” The moment you start earning money, you can be sure that the government will want their cut.

If you receive a traditional paycheck, be sure to take withholdings into account when budgeting your income. If you work independently, remember to set money aside to make your tax payments and avoid owing Uncle Ben any money at the end of the year.

Depending on your age and how much money you earned, you may have to file your taxes or include your income in your parent’s return. Remember to speak with a professional to determine the best way to handle your taxes.

Earning Definitions

As you start making money, you’ll come across words that are new to you. It’s important to understand what these terms mean to help you take control of your personal finances. Here are some of these words and their definitions:

  • Salary: A regular payment made by an employer to an employee.
  • Gross Pay: Amount of salary or wages earned for a certain period of time before deductions are withheld.
  • Net Pay: The amount of income received after deductions and taxes have been taken out.
  • Social Security Tax: A federal tax that you pay into in order to make withdrawals during retirement and to cover disability insurance.
  • Medicare Tax: A federal tax that pays for hospital insurance.
  • State Income Tax Withholdings: The portion of your paycheck that goes to pay state income taxes.
  • Federal Income Tax Withholdings: The portion of your paycheck that goes to pay federalincome taxes. 
  • Overtime Pay Rate: Additional payment received for any time worked over the standard 40 hours per week. Depending on the state where you live, this rate may be one and a half times your regular rate.
  • 401(k) Match: When an employer matches a part or all of your contributions to the company’s retirement plan.
  • Flex Time: When an employee can set their own hours.
  • Telecommuting: Working from home via the internet, email, and telephone.

Books About Earning Money

Are you feeling inspired by all this valuable info? Don’t stop here! These are some of our favorite books for college students who want to continue learning and kickstart their financial education. Head over to our money books for college students page for more recommendations.

Most Practical

How to Make Money in High School and College is jam-packed with resourceful ideas for you to boost your income. From side gigs to lucrative careers, this book is an inspiring guide to becoming financially independent from a young age.

If you want straight talk about money and life, check out No One Ever Told Us That. It’s filled with valuable lessons that’ll make adulting easier for you. Especially if you read it while you’re still in college and can prepare for what’s coming after graduation.

More Recommendations

Goals drive us forward in life. To make your money dreams a reality, be sure to read You Only Live Once. This is a great book because it helps with more than just money. It provides a system to help you work toward your objectives and shifts your mindset to achieve all your goals.

Early adulthood is filled with opportunities and learning experiences. With Your Money Life: Your 20s, you’ll be able to recognize and make the most out of them. It helps you establish good habits, ask yourself the right questions, and set the foundation for the financial success that you’re looking for.

Entrepreneurial college students need to get their hands on The Personal MBA. This book is a wealth of information if you’re on a mission to build your own business and create the life you’ve always wanted for yourself. Plus, it saves you thousands of dollars on grad school tuition and prepares you to make even more money as a business owner.

Earning money is an important life skill that you can learn while you’re still in college. By making money while you’re still a student, you can do more than just earn extra cash. You also build some of the work experience that employers are looking for and practice managing your own money. So, what are you waiting for? Get out of that dorm room and make the most of your college experience by starting your financial journey today!

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About the Author

Lucia Caldera

Lucia Caldera is a writer who specializes in personal finance. Her goal is to create approachable content that sparks financial wellness and unlocks personal growth. Lucia's work reflects her passion for financial education as the key to reducing the wealth gap for future generations.

Last updated on: September 8, 2022