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Creative Ways to Pay for College


Paying for college can be incredibly stressful. The cost of higher education today often results in students taking out a large amount of loans, and even those who get some scholarships may still need to borrow money. But trying to work in going to class, studying, writing papers, and working a job, even a part-time job, can be incredibly stressful. Fortunately, there are some creative ways you can pay for college that don’t involve working long hours.

Get an On-Campus Work-Study Job

Most colleges and universities have a work-study program for interested students. These students have to apply and be hired, just like with a real job. However, all of the work is on-campus, and you’re free to study if you don’t have any work to do. This means you can actually get paid and do your homework at the same time.

These jobs typically include things like shelving books at the library, tutoring other students in the writing center, or collecting and sorting mail for various departments. While these jobs typically pay only minimum wage, they do have other benefits. You don’t have to spend time traveling to work, plus it’s much easier to request time off for college events.

Work as a Freelancer

Did you know you can get freelancer work before you’ve finished your degree? There are many different freelancer websites out there where people post jobs. If you have the skills needed to complete these jobs, you can bid on them. These jobs cover everything from graphic design to writing/editing, coding to website design. Contractors often simply want to see you can do the work instead of what degrees you have, so it may not matter that you haven’t graduated.

What’s great about freelancing is that you are your own boss. You can decide how much work you want to take on, and as a contractor, you typically only work on the project you’re hired for. This means once the job is done, you’re free to move on to other work or take a break. In some cases, you may even find a few clients who love your work and want to hire you again. There’s even the chance that a client could hire you on full-time after you graduate (or even before if you can manage it).

Ask for Help

While you may want to be independent and cover the cost of your education yourself, that may not be possible without getting very stressed out. If you’re in a very intense program, you may not have the time to work. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask your parents for help if you need it, especially if they have offered. There are specific college loans for parents that offer competitive interest rates.

If your parents own their home and have a good amount of equity in it, they could also look at a reverse mortgage. This option allows them to borrow against the value of their home. According to experts from All Reverse Mortgage, “Reverse mortgages are a great option for those who have built up equity in their home and don’t want to take on the monthly payments that come with a traditional loan.”

Your parents will only need to pay this back if they move, sell the home, or when they die. There’s no monthly payment to make, and they can have access to the cash immediately. It can be the ideal solution for paying for college.

Make Deliveries

Apps such as Uber Eats, Grub Hub, and Door Dash have become very popular, and they’re all great opportunities for college students because they let you set your own hours. Some of these jobs involve picking up food people have ordered and delivering it to them. Others are actually more like personal shopping jobs. You would go to the store and buy the requested items. The client pays for everything you purchase plus a set fee for your services. They can even tip you extra if you do a great job.

Take a Gamble

It may not be the most stable income option, but you can give online gambling and online slots a go. If you like gambling and are good at it, you can make a nice amount of money at these games. You could join online poker tournaments, for example. Some of these tournaments do pay a very large amount if you win the whole thing. You do have to be careful that you don’t lose too much money, but if you’re good at gambling and don’t over-extend yourself financially, you can pay your tuition this way.

Become a Paid Tutor

Tutoring can be a very lucrative business. You have several options here, too. You can tutor other students who are in need of extra help, or you can tutor younger students. There are also online tutoring services you can join that will put you in contact with students from around the country or even the world. You’re free to tutor only in the subject you’re majoring in, or you can branch out and offer help in any subject you believe you understand well enough. Tutoring can even help you with your studies because it reinforces the basics.

Look for Weird Scholarships

While you likely applied for any and every scholarship your college offered and a number of others, there are some very weird and oddly specific scholarships out there that you may qualify for. By spending a little time online, you can find some of these unique opportunities. For example, there are scholarships for left-handed people and for members of the LGBTQ+ community. There are even some unique competitions that award scholarships, such as the Google Doodle competition and the “best prom outfit made from Duck Tape” contest. There’s even a scholarship for fans of Star Trek and one for tall people!

Play Gigs

If you’re playing in your college’s orchestra or know how to play an instrument, you may be able to book some gigs on your time off. Many students are in need of accompanists to play with them during recitals or to practice. Many couples who are getting married want live music at their ceremony or reception. You may even find a local restaurant or other business looking to hire someone to play for several hours each evening. You can even take your music to the streets and perform in the park or other location for tips.

Sell Your Own Artwork

There are many opportunities for a skilled artist to make money if you know where to look for them. It’s true that many people can’t or don’t want to pay for a large original piece, but many people are willing to drop a small amount on an art print. Others are interested in artwork of their favorite characters or even original characters they’ve created.

Paying for a booth at a local comic convention can be very lucrative. You do want to make certain you understand copyright law if you’re going to sell prints of popular characters, but that’s not an issue if you do commissions at the convention. People are often willing to sit for 15-20 minutes while you do a sketch of them in costume. You can even create and sell your own comics or prints of unique characters you’ve created. Selling your prints online is also an option and can provide income in between doing these shows.

Sell Other Items Online

If you sew, crochet, or do any other crafts, you could start selling them online and at local craft fairs. Unique, handmade items can be a great money maker, plus selling them allows you to cover the costs of your hobby while earning money to pay for school. Yes, you do have to set aside time to specifically work on your items, but you can do so whenever you have time. You’re not on anyone’s schedule.

Another way of making some money is to resell items. Estate sales and garage sales are often treasure troves for those who know what to look for. With a little time investment, you can learn how to identify items that you can resell for a good amount of money. If you attend an auction, you may even be able to literally buy boxes of items for a dollar that you can resell for much more.

Don’t forget to resell your textbooks, either. While your college bookstore may buy them back, they often do so for next to nothing. Selling them online or advertising them at half the price of the bookstore to other students will net you more of a return on your investment. College textbooks can be very expensive, so be sure to also take advantage of this when buying your own books. Look online, at used bookstores, and on social media for good deals. Saving money is just as important as earning money.

These are just a few of the unique and creative ways you can pay for your college education. By looking at your situation, the needs of those around you, and taking an inventory of your skills, you may find that you can fill a niche and make some nice money at the same time.


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