6 Weird Ways College Students Make Money: Runners-Up in Our Scholarship Contest

6 Weird Ways College Students Make Mone
Queen's College under Creative Commons

With college tuition rising each year, it’s no surprise more college students are turning to alternative methods help pay for their degrees.

These frugal students aren’t just working minimum-wage jobs at the mall or relying on unpaid internships for a future full-time job offer. Instead, they’ve traded convention for creativity, figuring out creative ways to not only save money in college, but also bring in extra cash!

Back in October, we asked college students nationwide to send us their strategies as part of a scholarship contest. We received tons of responses from students sharing the craziest, funniest, most interesting, unique and creative ways they’ve saved or made extra money.

Looking for a little inspiration to help pay your own college costs? Here are six great ideas from the runners-up in the competition.

1. Sell Study Guides to Other College Students

Exams coming up? Consider selling old class notes and study guides to other students for a fixed price.

“I don’t have much spare time to work a part-time job during the school year,” says Chris, a freshman at University of Kentucky. To help fund his studies, he came up with this creative way to share his past work.

“I created an online drop-box with old notes, quizzes, and exams for all of my classes. Anyone has access to this drop-box for a minimal one-time fee of $5.99. I’ve been able to provide over 75 students with an aid to their studies.”

Chris has pocketed nearly $450, just for sharing something that’s probably sitting at the bottom of most students’ closets.

2. Offer Your Friendship as a Service

Love making new friends and encouraging other people? You could make extra cash just by offering your friendship as a service.

“I decided to place an ad to spend an hour in Starbucks. I guaranteed that my laughter would be infectious and he/she would forget about their current stress for a little while. The cost was $20,” says Terkesha, a sophomore at University of Phoenix.

Let others reserve time with you to grab coffee or lunch. All you have to do is be yourself! Come with an open mind and a willingness to listen and share stories.

3. Teach Dirty Sign Language

Fluent in sign language? Put your ASL skills to work by giving signing lessons focused on interesting (read: dirty) phrases. One reader was able to make a quick buck just by teaching party guests off-color sign language.

“What started off as a fun party trick turned into an easy way to make some extra cash. My go-to ice-breaker at social events is to show a few interesting signs to a willing crowd,” says Kimberly, a junior at Western Governors University.

“Five minutes later and $50 richer, I was showing signs that would make my ASL teacher blush. Occasionally, when I’m feeling bold, I’ll make some extra cash by teaching some ‘vocab.’”

4. Become a Coffee Distributor

If you work in an office while you’re in school, does it serve coffee? Bring your Keurig machine and your favorite K-Cups to work. Sell individual cups to your coffee-loving coworkers and watch the money flow in.

“I took the house Keurig coffee machine to work and I decided to bring my K-cups and sell each cup at $1.25,” says Ruby, sophomore of University of Phoenix. “By the end of the week, I had sold out of my K-cups and made double the [amount] of my original purchase price. I had enough money to purchase more coffee, creamer, drop the price, and get gas and groceries.”

5. Hack Your Electric Bill

Utility companies in some states and municipalities allow you to pay different rates for your electricity depending whether you’re using it during high-demand times (like weekday evenings) or low-demand periods (like in the middle of the night). The difference can be significant. For example, Portland offers its residents savings of up to eight cents per kilowatt hour for using electricity during off-peak hours.

One way to make the most of this deal: Charge several car batteries during off-peak hours, then use them to power your lights in the evening.

“This technique reverses the time at which electricity [is pulled] from the power company, and therefore [reduces] rates for the electricity in comparison to all the other people using it after the sun goes down,” says Forest, a freshman at the University of Utah who learned this strategy from his grandfather.

6. Get Paid to Review Hostels

Taking an international trip sometime soon? Put your photography and writing skills to work by signing up to be a paid reviewer on hostelz.com.

One reader was able to support himself while abroad by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly from different hostels. “The covertness with which I took pictures would have made 007 proud,” says Neal, a senior at Brock University in Canada. “A forward roll and (pew-pew-pew!) that mouldy tap was captured. A backflip and (pew-pew-pew!) those stained sheets were public knowledge.”

“My moonlighting earned me many things including: A night’s accommodation and a beer [in Prague] and an Acropolis ticket and a slushy [in Athens],” he explains. For each 500-word hostel review with a few photos, Neal earned €10 (about $15 U.S.).

Your Turn: Are you a current college student or recent grad? What’s the most unique way you’ve ever made or saved extra cash?