How to Make Money in College: 7 Side Gigs Perfect for Freshmen

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As a freshman, I scored the greatest job in college: I worked as an assistant in the communications department, signing out photography kits and keeping an eye on the computer lab.

I worked the late shifts, which no one else wanted. But I loved it. No one came into the building, so I could write papers and study for exams while getting paid. It was perfect.

However, jobs like that one are few and far between. Competition for on-campus jobs can be fierce. In addition, if you’re a freshman, finding an off-campus job can be tough, and almost impossible at some rural schools.

If you’re wondering how to make money in college, don’t despair. There are many ways to earn cash outside of on-campus gigs. Even better, you don’t even have to leave your dorm.

Difficulties earning money as a freshman

It’s just a couple of weeks until the start of the next semester. If you’re a freshman, that means you’re likely a mix of terrified and excited. Between roommates, rigorous class schedules, and finding your way around campus, the experience can be overwhelming.

Another worry is having enough money for the occasional pizza run, buying books, and taking trips off-campus. For freshmen, it can be especially difficult to find a well-paying job. Some universities ban freshman from having cars on-campus, so you can’t just drive to a job a few miles away from school.

Also, getting through your freshman year is hard work. You likely are facing a tougher workload than you’ve ever had before. Lengthy papers, midterms, and finals can be exhausting. All of that work makes committing to a set work schedule difficult. Instead, pursuing non-traditional gigs is likely your best option.

What to look for in a job

If you don’t know how to make money as a college student, know that there are tons of options out there that can fit your interests and schedule. Before committing to any one gig, make sure you consider the following factors.

Scalability

The best college jobs are scalable, meaning you can earn more money if you want, or slow business down when you get busy. Side gigs and non-traditional work are typically your best options for work. You can work as much (or as little) as you want. If you need cash quickly, you can spend more time working to earn money.

Scheduling

Most on-campus jobs have strict schedules. Your shifts can make your life difficult when a major paper is due or when you have to study for finals. A non-traditional job allows you to set your own schedule. If you need two weeks off to study or relax, you can allow yourself to do that.

Earning potential

On-campus jobs aren’t exactly lucrative. In fact, many pay minimum wage. Depending on where you live, that means you could earn as little as $7.25 per hour. Side gigs can pay much more, and in some cases, you could earn up to $20 an hour.

How to make money in college

With those factors in mind, here are seven ways to make money in college and tips on how to get started.

1. Tutoring

Since you made it into college, you likely got through the SATs and are familiar with the basic subjects. That experience makes you eligible to work as a tutor for young children and high schoolers.

Online tutoring is common nowadays, and you can work with kids over Skype. Tutors make an excellent hourly wage. Depending on your area of expertise, you could make $20 per hour or more.

Check out these two sites to get started:

  • Chegg: With Chegg, you can tutor students across the country whenever it’s convenient for you. Chegg pays weekly, so it can be a great source of income for college students. If you’re good at in-demand subjects like physics or calculus, you can charge more for your services.
  • Student-Tutor.com: This site caters to middle and high school students who need help with math, science, or English, as well as high school students preparing for the SAT/ACT exams. You can earn up to $23 an hour.

2. Graphic design

If you’re a design major, or just love doing graphic design in your spare time, then creating logos, brochures, and postcards for clients can be a great side hustle.

You don’t need to be advanced or have an extensive portfolio. Many small businesses are looking for simple designs. You can start out offering your work on Fiverr. After building out your portfolio, you can reach out to potential clients on your own.

3. Reselling online

If you need cash quickly, one place to start is by going through your dorm and selling things you don’t use. You can make money selling old clothes, accessories, or movies.

You can expand this into an ongoing gig by offering to sell classmates’ things online and taking a portion of the sales as commission. Or you can check out the college classifieds to see if students or faculty are giving away sporting equipment, tools, or books. You can pick them up for free and sell them online.

EBay and Poshmark are excellent places to start selling, and it only takes a few minutes to set up an account.

4. Virtual assistant

Small business owners often need an assistant to help them with day-to-day tasks but don’t have the budget for full-time help. Instead, they turn to virtual assistants, who work remotely.

As a virtual assistant, you’ll take care of tasks like scheduling social media posts, updating your client’s calendar, or making travel arrangements.

The pay can vary depending on the work and the company you work through, but you can expect to make about $11 an hour to start, according to salary data found on Glassdoor.

Two sites you can use to find clients and start working are Time etc and Fancy Hands. As you gain experience, you can advertise yourself online to find new, better-paying clients.

5. Translation

If you speak another language, you can earn a solid income translating online. Companies often need native speakers to translate materials into different languages to appeal to various audiences.

It can be a perfect side gig for college students. According to Gengo, a site that connects clients with translators, translators earn an average of $417 per month. However, how many hours you’ll need to work to earn that amount might vary from person to person.

To get started, Gengo requires you to complete a two-part test. Once you pass, you can begin accepting work. As you finish jobs, Gengo automatically adds your payments to your account. You can also complete qualification tests to get access to more challenging jobs with higher rates.

6. Photography

If you love taking pictures around campus, you can make money selling those photos online. You don’t even need an expensive setup — you can use photos you took with your smartphone.

Both EyeEm and Foap pay for smartphone pictures. You can sell photos for $5 to $250, depending on the photo and the usage license you offer. Even better, you can sell one photo multiple times. One great photo of that friendly squirrel on campus could earn you hundreds over the course of the school year.

7. Calligraphy

Do you have a knack for art or writing in cursive? If so, you can use your skills to sell envelopes or invitations. In most cases, customers will mail you stationary and ask you to handwrite information on each one.

While it might get tedious, one listing on Etsy was charging $1.25 per envelope. If a client wants 100 envelopes, that equates to $125 in earnings for a few hours of work.

You can offer your services on sites like Etsy or UpWork and attract clients from across the country.

Earning an income in school

Taking on a side gig can help you earn money and offset your college costs. That benefit can end up saving you in student loans or other debt. If you’re struggling to figure out how to make money in college as a freshman, these seven flexible side hustles can help you get started.

If you’re looking for other ways to make money in college, here are ways to earn cash without getting a job.

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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 8.179% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.570% APR to 6.980% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 14, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.570% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.740% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.57%-8.17% (2.57%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.57% – 6.98%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.80% – 6.22%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.57% – 8.17%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.