Money is a fairly constant concern for all but the most fortunate students, and especially those students who choose to live away from home, either on or off campus. For these students it is often the first time managing the costs and responsibilities associated with living independently.
This is simultaneously a scary concept for some, and an exciting prospect for others. Whichever category you fall into (or even if you are apathetic about it), our Student Budget Calculator can help you to make sense of it all by comparing your outgoings with the money you have coming in. One of the most important aspects of managing your own finances is verifying that you have the means to cover your expenses over the course of the year, and beyond.
Earn money in college
Being smart with your money, such as by following the tips in our article 10 easy ways for students to save money in college, will usually take you a long way. However, sometimes it just isn't enough - which is why lots of students choose to take on extra commitments while they are studying in order to make a little extra money.
Getting a part-time job is all well and good, but if that doesn't appeal to you, here are five ideas that may not have occurred to you:
1. Get a Federal Work-Study job
The Federal Work-Study program is intended to provide part time jobs for students who are in financial need. 'Financial need' is calculated as the difference between your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and your total Cost of Attendance (CoA) at the college you have chosen. It is worth remembering that although CoA can dramatically vary based on your choice of school, your EFC is the same regardless.
Being available to both full- and part-time students at undergraduate, graduate, and professional level, Federal Work-Study jobs can offer highly beneficial and rewarding experiences, as well as supplementing your income. As they are administered by individual schools, they are typically related to your course of study, or include community work.
Get in touch with your college's Financial Aid office to find out whether your school participates in the Federal Work-Study program and whether you are eligible.
2. Ask the placement office
Your college placement office is a good place to find potential opportunities. The people here are employed in order to help you gain employment yourself, and their knowledge could be invaluable during your search.
Depending on how comprehensive their service is, you may even be able to ask them to act as your employment agents and actively find work for you. At the very least, they should help you to polish up your resume so that it catches the attention of the employers you are trying to get a job from.
The people working in the college placement offices will have plenty of experience finding work for people in your situation, so make the most of their expertise!
3. Use your unique skills to freelance online
Freelancing is easier than ever nowadays, thanks to online platforms that match you with people seeking the services you provide. Almost anything can be a marketable skill, particularly writing, designing and web development.
Upwork and Fiverr are popular platforms for advertising your services, and can help you find people who need your skills. Best of all, if you are freelancing something to do with your degree, you are gaining free experience in your field which will be invaluable when it comes to looking for a job later!
If you would rather not pay fees to online companies such as these, you can start your own website advertising your services and promote it yourself. And if your unique skill is something that doesn't translate well into online markets, you could reach out to your local community with flyers or advertisements in the local paper. There is an investment to be made if you go this way but if you target your audience carefully, you should see a return on that investment sooner rather than later.
4. Start your own online business
This sounds like a big one, but it's easier than ever! Absolutely anyone can sell services or products online - all it takes is a website with the right tools added on. There might be a few small down payments, but these will pay for themselves if you are selling a product or service that people are really interested in.
If your online business is all about selling products, you can create a Shopify account and set up your online store with them - however there is a monthly fee involved which puts some people off. A more cost-effective option could be to use WordPress, currently the world number one application for website management due to its user-friendliness and customization options.
The process is very simple. Choose a web hosting plan and domain (depending on the provider and plan, this can cost as little as $20 a year), login, and install WordPress. Then you just pick your design, add your products and install some eCommerce plugins to handle the shopping cart and online payments.
5. Sell textbooks and equipment you no longer need
A short-term solution, but a potentially profitable one - sell your unneeded equipment and books to fellow students, or online, for a quick cash boost. Most universities and colleges will have some kind of platform for advertising these kinds of items to other students.
Obviously, items you can sell aren't limited to just books and equipment. Maybe you have an old mobile phone, tablet or laptop that you no longer use. Or perhaps you have some clothes in the closet that you no longer wear, but are in good condition.
You might even consider selling the PlayStation or Xbox... No, that's definitely a step too far!
We hope this article has given you a good idea or two which will help you earn some extra money while studying. Being in control of your own finances can be scary, especially if it's the first time - just remember that billions have done it before you and come out of it just fine!
Do you have a better idea?
Let us know by submitting a tip in our Student Area. The best one each month wins a $200 Amazon voucher - so good luck!