Benjamin Franklin once said there were only two certainties in this world: death and taxes. But we’d like to add the high cost of college to that list. Even after tuition you’ve got room and board, textbooks, and living and travel expenses to consider. But all is not lost!
Here are 7 ways to earn extra cash in college:
1. Get a job on campus
So what if you have to actually work for your money? On-campus jobs are great. You get paid, have flexible working hours, and don’t need a car or a transit pass to commute to work. You can even earn money in between classes! Some jobs, like working at the library, may also allow you to get homework done. The only catch is that on campus jobs are in high demand, so get your application in early.
2. Donate plasma
If you’re not afraid of needles, donating plasma can be a great, easy, and conscientious way of earning money—usually between $20 and $40 per donation! Better yet, you can donate up to twice a week. Thankfully there are plasma donation centers all over the USA. To find one near you, check out DonatingPlasma.
3. Sell used stuff online
Got used textbooks lying around? Or used video games? Or even a used iPhone? Sell them for more money with ValoreBooks. Online price quotes are instant and shipping is free. The best part? ValoreBooks has the highest sell-back prices in the industry, meaning you always get more money from them than from anyone else.
4. Participate in research studies
The good thing about being on a college campus is that there are often research studies going on—which are often compensated. They could be medical, psychological, or even social, but play guinea pig and you’ll definitely get rewarded!
5. Babysit, pet-sit, or house-sit
6. Save your change
You’d be surprised how much your pocket change is worth. Keep a jar on your desk and save up your pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Don’t leave them under the couch cushions or lost at the bottom of your purse.
7. Have a yard sale
Uncluttering your life is rewarding for two reasons: it frees up room in your living space and scores you some extra money. Get rid of old clothes, old frames, old furniture—anything you’re not using anymore. Chuck that stuff out on the grass, throw up a few yard sale signs, then kick back and relax.
The key to keeping college affordable is managing all your money all the time, so if you have a tendency to overspend then it’s time to curb that habit. Here are the do’s and don’ts of managing money in college:
1. Make a budget—including an “extraneous” fund. Every month you should put a limit on your spending. Then desperately avoid exceeding that limit! The number you choose should be conservative and should never exceed your income. After all, you don’t want to dip into savings if you don’t have to and you certainly don’t want to accrue any debt that’s not related to your education. As an aside, the budget should include an allowance for entertainment. Planning how much you spend on fun makes it easier to avoid spending too much.
2. Distinguish between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. When deciding how to spend your money, it’s important to remember that needs come first. For example: you probably need a basic computer but probably want an expensive model that plays games. Resist the urge to upgrade and put the savings to better use.
3. Use your meal plan (if you have one). A common mistake college students make is having a meal plan and not using it, either because they don’t like the food in the dining hall or because other options are more convenient. But if you’re going to restaurants or grocery stores instead of using a meal plan you already paid for, you’re essentially paying double for your food.
4. Save on textbooks. Why pay campus bookstore prices when you can save up to 90% on textbooks when you buy or rent with ValoreBooks? It’s an obvious matter of math: saving 90% means you could spend $500 less every year on books.
1. Rack up debt. The most important rule of money management is to never spend more than you earn. In college, this rule is particularly important. The best way to avoid debt is to cut up your credit card. Use debit or cash instead.
2. Visit the coffee shop every day. Why pay $4-$5 for specialty coffee when it’s just caffeine you’re after? Brew drip coffee at home to save over $100 a month. Then apply this rule to other small, frequent expenditures to see how much money you can save.
3. Borrow too much money. When you’re considering federal or private student loans, it’s important to borrow smartly—which means never borrowing more than you need. That’s why creating the budget mentioned above is so important. If you borrow too much then you’re paying interest on money you’re not spending. Or you’re spending the extra money just because it’s available, which means you’re spending too much. It’s a lose-lose situation. Just remember to compare your options.
College tuition already costs an arm and a leg. Plus, every year prices seem to rise. So why should back-to-school shopping cost another bucket of money? Good news: it doesn’t have to, even if you need a computer, furniture, clothes, textbooks, and supplies. The key, of course, is keeping it cheap. Here are 6 ways to spend less while back-to-school shopping:
1. Make a budget
Decide how much you can spend before you decide what you want to buy — and always remember to never spend more than you have.
2. Buy what you need, not what you want
Once you have a budget, it’s much easier to distinguish between things you need and things you want. For example, you probably need a computer in order to type papers, complete assignments online, use the Internet, and more. But you probably want an iPad, as well. They weigh less and may be useful in class if you want to take notes electronically. But resist the urge to get both. Stick with the computer.
3. Buy or rent your textbooks online
Why pay bookstore prices when you can buy or rent millions of titles from thousands of sellers online — all while saving up to 90% off everything? ValoreBooks, our sister-company, makes it easy to find the new, used, or rental textbooks you need at prices you can actually afford. Better yet, when the semester is over, you can sell those books back for more money. That makes it easy to recoup more of your money at the end of every semester.
4. Shop after Labor Day
Good things come to those who wait. In your case, discounts. This is especially true of clothing, as retailers are looking to unload what they didn’t sell during the back-to-school season.
5. Use your student ID
Your college student ID entitles you to all kinds of discounts in life and on the web. Check out this list of where you can save money on technology, food, clothes, and more!
6. Buy used
Things like furniture are going to get banged up anyway, so why not buy used from the get-go? That way you can save money. Check garage sales, second-hand stores, Craigslist, and even your local Goodwill.
The advent of the Internet has ushered in all kinds of technological phenomena: cloud computing, online shopping, and, perhaps most importantly, the ubiquitous spread of cat videos. But the Internet has also enabled students to attend college not in a classroom, but from the comfort of their own couch. But just because you can go to college online doesn’t mean you should—right? Or should you? Consider these pros and cons of going to college online, then decide for yourself:
Pros of going to school online:
1. Reduced cost. Online colleges tend to have lower tuition costs than traditional colleges. The savings also extend to living expenses. College campuses are infamous for high room and board costs, but going to college online means you can avoid that.
2. Convenience. The premise alone is exciting. Who doesn’t want to earn a college degree from home?
“Online classes fit so much better with my life and schedule than on-campus classes” - Ashley Beckner, 24-year-old full-time undergrad student at Liberty University Online
3. Learn at your own pace. The flexibility of online college is another selling point. You can take as many or as few classes as you like. Better yet, you can study, watch lectures, and take tests on your own time—not according to some predetermined schedule.
“Establishing a routine for myself has also been very helpful, as an online student I receive my assignments a week at a time” – Crystal Woods, 32-year-old full-time online student at Midway College
4. Learn from anywhere. Not every town has a college. Even less have good colleges. Going to school online means people who don’t want to leave home, or aren’t able, still have the opportunity to earn a degree.
5. Easier to balance work and classes. Going to school online means those of you with full-time jobs don’t have to quit to get an education. Work during the day and study during nights and weekends.
Cons of going to school online:
1. Limited (or no) interaction with an instructor. Every online college, and every course, is different, but as a general rule you can expect less one-on-one human interaction with an instructor. After all, there’s no classroom and no office hours.
2. Sense of isolation. College isn’t just about going to class. It’s also about meeting people. The downside to going to school online is the social aspect of getting an education is almost nonexistent.
3. More discipline is required. Traditional colleges are regimented. You have a set schedule and only so much time in which to complete your work. Online colleges don’t work that way. You have to set your own schedule and be your own motivation.
“You have to make a schedule, I have learned” - Ashley Beckner, 24-year-old full-time undergrad student at Liberty University Online
4. Questions of quality and/or reputation. The jury is still out on whether or not an online education is as objectively “good” as a traditional one. The question is further complicated by the fact that online schools vary in quality just like traditional colleges. But know ahead of time: many employers view traditional college degrees as more desirable than online counterparts.
The world of student lending is confusing. But here’s a rule to remember: always take out federal student loans before you consider the private option. They’re usually cheaper and have more favorable repayment terms. But if you’ve maxed out your federal aid eligibility or don’t qualify, then you may need a private student loan. Here are 5 steps to choose the right private student loan:
1. Compare you options first.
Knowing your options and comparing interest rates, repayment terms, and borrower benefits could save you thousands. Compare your options!
2. Look beyond the annual percentage rate.
The APR is important, of course, but there are other factors to consider, such as the total cost of the loan, deferment options, and first payment due date.
3. Confirm the interest rate for which you qualify.
It’s important to confirm interest rates with the lender you are researching. The advertised rate and your actual rate may differ, depending on the credit profile of the borrower and co-signer.
4. Find a credit-worthy co-signer.
Most college students will need a co-signer. Increasingly, this goes for graduate students, too, since many do not have a long credit history. And remember: the better your co-signer’s credit, the lower your interest rate.
5. Choose a lender with good customer service.
Borrowers are customers, too, and deserve to be treated as such, so choose a lender you can reach with a toll-free telephone number or fast online assistance available 24/7.