In college you’ll learn how to get rich slowly, legitimately, by hard work and pursuing a fruitful career. But during those four years in undergrad—and quite possibly beyond—sometimes you just need pizza money. Fast.
Here are our recommendations for earning quick cash as a college student.
Donating blood or plasma
Not only will you be helping meet a critical need, those pints of plasma or bags of blood can earn around $20–$45. Never donated blood? You’ll have to answer a few questions, meet blood donation eligibility requirements (check out the Red Cross donation guidelines), be cool with needles, and have anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to spare. Plasma donations are a bit more involved: you could be hooked up to two needles (depending on the machine), have little mobility, and it takes about one or two hours total—but you’ll probably spend that time watching a movie surrounded by lots of nice nurses! Just be sure to take it easy after donating and replenish your fluids with lots of water and juices.
You’re responsible, compassionate, and don’t mind giving up your Friday nights: you could make a great baby or dog or house sitter. Though there are professional websites and agencies out there you could join, you may have luck volunteering your services to friends or family you already know. And why not offer to wash the dishes or fold the laundry for an extra $10?
Consignment shops are still havens for the thrifty and fashion conscious. Take your old prom dresses, dress shoes, and other gently worn items and see what kind of cash you can get. You typically won’t be paid until the items sell, but depending on the quality of the piece, you could earn a pretty penny. Though most consignment shops carry your favorite mall brands, you’ll also find some selling just higher-end stuff, so make sure you know what kind of merchandise the store is looking for.
Whether you’re giving feedback after watching some commercials or letting people study your brainwaves while you sleep, there are scores of social and medical researchers out there that welcome college students with open arms. That’s not to say you should embrace every opportunity, but new products need testers and there are plenty of low-level trials you can participate in. Start with the U.S. government’s official clinical trial website, then try contacting local hospitals or companies directly. And college campuses are often full of students and professors hosting research, so look on your school’s website for these opportunities too.
You and all five of your roommates have a not-so-healthy affinity for soda. First, maybe switch to diet? Second, turn all those empties into a healthy chunk of change by bringing (rinsed!) cans and bottles to your local recycling center. If you alone drink two cans per day everyday, at an average 5 cents per can, you could have more than $35 at the end of the year, enough for a few weeks of laundry—or a steak dinner.
If you live off campus and have a yard or can get permission from your school to use communal open space, organize a yard sale with your friends and roommates, maybe even your dorm community. Use the cash to throw a “Yard Sales are Awesome!” party. Realize you spent all your money on the party. Repeat as needed or until you run out of stuff to sell.
Short of selling a kidney on the black market, there are plenty of ways you can pick up some quick cash: Walking your neighbor’s dogs. Moonlighting at a local call center. Tutoring classmates. Being a secret shopper. Freelancing small writing projects. If it’s not going to cut into your study time—or your dignity—give it a shot!