8 Seriously Easy Ways to Make Money in College Without a Job

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.


Low on cash, too busy for (or already have) a job, and looking for ways to make money in college?

woman in yellow sweater smiling red lipstick

Being a broke college kid is more than just a meme, it’s an all too common reality.

broke college student meme
Via me.me

And really:

Being broke AF in your 20s is the norm and that’s okay. Figuring it all out takes time!

Plus:

It doesn’t help that college costs have risen 8 times faster than wages.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder that a large chunk of young people are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest side hustles.

I know that during my college years I was just scraping by and JUMPED at any opportunity to score free food or earn extra cash.

Since I’ve lived that struggle:

I wanted to show current students how to make money in college without a job.

Making Money in College

As I’m sure that:

Many of you are already juggling a job with your studies and yet still need a little more to make ends meet.

Plus:

Not only does attending college eat up a ton of money, but it also takes up a great deal of time.

Knowing different ways to round up extra cash that can work around your schedule is the best scenario for situations like that.

So:

In today’s post, I’ve got you covered with a list of easy ways to pad your bank account.

All these money making ideas can be done whenever you have some downtime. There’s no boss to answer to and there’s definitely no time card to punch.

And rest assured:

These methods work!

I’ve personally utilized them all at one point or another in my young adult life. I even still use some of these methods to this day.

Because:

Extra money is never a bad thing to have and these ways to ways to make money are so dead simple that I can’t justify not using them.

How to Make Money in College – Without a Job

8 ideas for making money in college – besides the obvious!

1. Use the Field Agent App

Out of all the easy ways to make money in college I have on this list, this first one has to be my favorite.

Earn some easy extra dollars by using the Field Agent smartphone app (available for iOs & Andriod).

I’ve made over $300 with it in just the past 3 months! And mind you, I was using the app casually.

field agent earnings screenshot - money making app for college students

And:

I actually wrote a post with everything you need to know about Field Agent, including…

  • cash out options
  • do you have to talk to people?
  • + tips to maximize your earnings

Give it a quick read by heading to this page.

But, to summarize how it works:

The app pays you for completing small tasks in your area, such as snapping some pictures and providing feedback.

If you can follow directions well, this can be a creative and lucrative way to make extra money!

–> Download the Field Agent App here <–

2. Passively Earn With Your Devices

With Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel you can earn $50 per year, per device for simply sharing data about your internet usage.

You may have heard of Nielsen or Nielsen Ratings before as they’re one of the oldest and most reputable research companies. They want to use the information to help improve products and services offered on the internet.

Note that:

The good thing is that the data you share is anonymous.

ways to make money in college

And:

Since this offer is per device – if you have a smartphone, a laptop, and a tablet, that’s $150 in passive income you can earn!

How it works:

To get started with it you’ll just need to register and then install the app/software on the devices you want to use it with. After that, it’s set it and forget it!

Compared to my other ideas for easy ways to make money in college, this one requires the least amount of effort!

Still not sure and want more information about the Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel before you decide?

Check out this review of it with all the facts.

–> Head here to try Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel <–

3. Take Part in Online Research Studies

Have you heard of Prolific?

Prolific is an online platform that connects researchers with participants. I’ve been using it since fall 2018 and I’m really liking how much I earn with it!

To sign up:

You’ll start by answering some screening questions. There are more than a few questions to answer, but do your best to give quality answers!

Because:

This helps them determine your demographics, which in turns helps them match you with studies to participate in.

The studies consist of answering questions or completing tasks online. It’s a lot like a survey website, only SO much better.

Why is it better?

Well for starters, Prolific only lets you participate in studies that you qualify for.

You know that sneaky thing that some survey websites like to do where they “disqualify” you just as you’re about to finish a survey so they don’t have to pay?

It’s so annoying, a waste of time, and just plain rude!

But with Prolific –

They don’t employ shady business practices like that. As long as you provide quality answers by not rushing through the questions, you’ll always be paid for your time.

Which is why I like using their platform so much!

Another plus for Prolific is:

That the studies pay pretty well compared to how much time you spend on them. Most I’ve participated in have taken me 2-10 minutes and have paid $0.50 – $3.00.

Some have been longer, but they also paid more – I received as much as $20 for one study.

But the short and quick questionaires make up the majority of them.

Each available study will tell you ahead of time how much it pays and an estimate of how much time it will take you to complete.

It’s really nice to have all that information upfront.

The amount of studies on a given day varies. They are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Sometimes you’ll get an email notifying you that they have more open slots for a particular one, but the best practice is to just visit Prolific a few times throughout the day to pick up new money-making opportunities as they pop up.

Check out the earnings I’ve totaled over the past few months:

prolific earnings - easy ways to make money in college

My total in that screenshot doesn’t include more earnings that are still awaiting review.

So after factoring that in and converting £ to $, I’ve made $154.35!

That’s not bad considering I’ve only been completing Prolific studies here and there.

Honestly:

I forgot to check the website and if I did, I know I could be making a lot more.

Getting the money you’ve racked up –

Prolific pays British Pounds, so when you convert it to USD you’ll actually end up with a higher number for your earnings. Score!

You can get paid via PayPal or Circle Pay. If you’ve never heard of Circle, it’s a digital wallet like Paypal that lets you transfer money to a bank account or debit card – fee free.

The Prolific payout threshold for both is only £5, BUT the PayPal foreign currency fee is 2.9% + 20p.

So:

I recommend signing up for a Circle account (free to join & use) because there is no fee to cash out on amounts over £20. And even if you want to withdraw an amount less than that, Circle’s 1% + 10p fee is less than PayPal’s.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely try to avoid fees whenever I can so I’ve always just waited until I hit that £20 marker.

After all:

The goal here is making money in college and every fee (no matter how small) eats into your profits.

Whew – I really went on about details concerning Prolific! So…

I’ll sum up the key points:

  • Complete surveys for studies to get paid
  • Prolific only matches you with studies you’re qualified for – no bogus survey disqualifications
  • Works on a mutual respect basis, don’t rush your answers & you will be paid for your time
  • Pays in British Pounds which is an advantage for US users as the conversion rate to USD works in your favor
  • Pays out via PayPal & Circle Pay
  • Payout threshold is as low as £5
  • Avoid cash out fees by waiting until you have at least £20 in earnings & by using Circle

–> Sign up with Prolific to start earning money <–

4. Take Advantage of Referral Offers

When you were pondering how to make money in college without a job I bet you didn’t consider this next idea:

Referral programs – an often untapped, yet worthwhile resource to add to your side hustle repertoire.

Companies often offer monetary rewards or bounties when you help spread the word about their services and get new customer sign-ups.

Now:

I’m not recommending you use any questionable tactics to get referral bonuses.

But –

Just by getting friends and family to sign up with your code or link you can generate some cash flow to your bank account.

Most of the time you’ll both earn a reward, too.

Plus:

If you explain that you’re trying to hit a target number of new sign-ups to make some money, in my experience, people are often willing to help out.

Here are some of the best referral programs I’m aware of right now:

  • Root Insurance – Get $25 for getting a quote + $25 for every friend you refer.

No strings attached, you do NOT need to accept the quote to get the money. Super legit & low effort way to make money in college.

More details about how it works it.

  • Acorns – Get $5 for joining + $5 for every friend you refer.

For Jan. 2018 Acorns offered $1000 bonus if you referred 12 friends, so I’d watch for them to be offering something similar to that in the future.

Find more details here.

  • Dosh App – Get $5 for signing up + $5 for every friend you refer.

To get the bonuses, you (and friends you refer) will just need to add a credit or debit card to your Dosh account.

  • Uber Driver – Get $50 for every friend you refer that completes 25 trips within 90 days.

Driving for Uber? Cash in on their referral program by getting a bonus for any friend who signs up with your link.

They’ll also get $5 just for signing up.

  • Digit app – Get $5 for signing up + $5 for each friend you refer.

I’ve also seen this app offer $100 for just getting your first 3 referral sign ups!

  • Ibotta – Get $10 for joining + $5 for every friend you refer. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock – you probably know all about Ibotta. Not only can you earn referral money with it, but you can also get cash back on grocery purchases.

*Some of the above links are my referral links (practice what I preach, right?). If you choose to use them, thank you!

5. Get Cash Back on Purchases You’re Already Making

And since Ibotta was just brought up:

Another one of the ways to “make” money in college is by utilizing websites and apps that offer cash back on your purchases.

How they work:

When you start your shopping at cash back portal, they kick you back a percentage of however much you spend.

They’re super easy to use, all you do is click and go!

ways to make money in college - ibotta

Some of my favorites are…

Now, you should know that all of these websites offer a different amount of cash back.

So:

Before making any online purchases I like to start by using this tool to compare them all.

To use it:

Type the name of the store you’ll be shopping at in the search bar. Then the website will run a search to show you what percentage of cash back all of the available websites are offering.

It’s quick to do and this allows me to maximize the amount of cash back I get!

6. See if You Qualify for Settlements

This next idea to get extra money is definitely delayed gratification.

But:

Why leave any money or other types, of reimbursement, you’re owed on the table?

You can go here to see all the class action lawsuits that are currently open. If you qualify for you one you can submit a claim.

By doing this, you make yourself eligible for a cash payment as compensation whenever a company has decided to settle a class action lawsuit.

Some claims require proof of purchase and others do not.

However:

Remember to submit your claim ONLY if you qualify for settlement funds. By submitting your claim you’re under penalty of perjury.

Submitting a false claim is not worth getting in trouble for fraud!

And:

While you’re most certainly not going to see any money right away, it’s always a welcome surprise to receive a settlement check in the mail.

7. Check to See if You Have Any Lost Money

There are literally BILLIONS of dollars sitting unclaimed in state government offices!

When a company owes someone money but can’t figure how out to get it back to that person, they turn it over to the state. The state then keeps a record of who it belongs to.

make money in college - credit karma lost money

Find out if you have any cash you can claim by doing a quick (& free) search with Credit Karma.

Honestly, it doesn’t hurt to check and it’s easy to do. Plus, you never know what you might find!

8. Recycle Bottles

There’s some serious money to be made from recycling – especially around college campuses!

10 states have bottle deposit laws where a refundable deposit of 5¢ – 10¢ is charged at the time of purchase on recyclable beverage containers.

You can make money in college with an hour or two worth of work just recycling cans and bottles.

My home state, Oregon, gives you back 10¢ for every bottle returned. So for every 10 bottles recycled I earn a $1.00.

Not too shabby!

And:

If you can round up all the recyclables other students are tossing in dorm trash cans there’s the opportunity to turn a nice profit.


So:

Those are 8 of my more creative ways to make money as a college student.

Let me know if you try them or if you have any more that I can add to this list!

And:

Please share this article to help out a friend or struggling student in need of money!

Have you used any of these ways to make money in college?

Being broke all the time SUCKS! Check out this post for 8 easy ways to make money (without a job). Click To Tweet

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8 ways to make extra cash in college - the easy way. These creative tips will show you how to start making money in your free time with apps, websites and more. Click to see all 8 creative ideas! #college #collegelife #sidehustle #makingmoney #appsthatpay #extramoney #makemoneyonline #sidehustleideas #student #student #finance #payoffdebt

Being broke all the time SUCKS! But in this post, I'll show you 8 easy ways to make money as a busy student. These are extra cash opportunities you can score without a job. Click to see 8 ideas that work around your schedule! #college #collegelife #sidehustle #makingmoney #appsthatpay #extramoney #makemoneyonline #sidehustleideas #student #student #finance #payoffdebt

8 ways to make extra cash in college - the easy way. These creative tips will show you how to start making money in your free time with apps, websites and more. Click to see all 8 creative ideas! 
#college #collegelife #sidehustle #makingmoney #appsthatpay #extramoney #makemoneyonline #sidehustleideas #student #student #finance #payoffdebt
Charlie
Charlie

I'm Charlie, one of the co-founders of College Life Made Easy: a lifestyle blog that focuses on helping students navigate college life on topics of finance, organization, dorm living and more. 2015 graduate of the Ashland Institute of Massage. Originally from a little bit of everywhere (Air Force brat). Lover of Birkenstocks, rainy weather and miniature things.

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