Ways for College Students to Earn Extra Cash

Earning enough cash to pay bills, rent and college expenses, with a little extra spending money to help you enjoy your time in college, isn’t as hard as it seems. Plenty of moneymaking opportunities are out there for you to capitalize on between your studies; they come with the perk of no long-term commitment and, in most cases, let you set your own hours.

Some are good for a fast buck, while others could turn into consistent streams of income. Find out which cash-generating ideas could work best for you.

Sell Used Textbooks

Stop letting your used textbooks collect dust on the shelf and start selling them online. BookScouter and SlugBooks make it easy for you to make some money back on the $200 textbook “required” for your philosophy course (which you never opened) and show who’s doling out the best prices for used college textbooks. Simply type the ISBN or the book title into either browser, and BookScouter and SlugBooks scan prices from various book-buying sites to show you which ones are offering the best prices and what you should consider selling your book for.

For example, we plugged in the ISBN for the textbook International Environmental Law and Policy 5th edition, ($241 new) and found that Amazon would buy it for $106.75. For more information, see Get the Best Price When Selling Back Textbooks.

Or go local (where you might get more money and spend less on shipping). Many universities have Facebook pages or other online platforms for each class. These (or other campus sites) can be good places to reach out to underclassmen who will be needing your books. There’s also Craiglist, of course. Just remember the safety rules of trading here: Insist on cash, and play it safe by meeting in a neutral, very public location (some police departments facilitate these meetings).


If you have a special skill – whether it’s the ability to play an instrument, paint like Picasso or explain calculus in a way anyone can understand – you may be able to make money sharing your skills with others. For example, you could earn $10 to $75 an hour tutoring children in your community or even other college students if you speak a second language or have great math, science or writing skills.

Advertise your services on campus and community bulletin boards (whether virtual or actual), or on tutoring websites, such as Wyzant (where you choose your own hourly rate) and Tutor. And take advantage of your social media platforms to let people know you’re ready to teach.


If your talent involves sports, consider coaching a youth team or maybe even your peers. Coaching a local elementary, secondary or club team can be perfect for students who had a special skill in high school and want to stay with their sport without joining the university team. Coaching often demands late-afternoon, evening and weekend availability plus knowledge of the intricacies of a sport – soccer, hockey, softball, you name it – and the patience and talent to teach it to others.

The pay for youth soccer coaches on club teams varies widely, according to Job Monkey, a job-search website, but it can reach $2,000 a month. That kind of money often requires certifications, which you may need to seek out (and pay for) yourself.

Another option is to coach your college’s club or recreational sports teams, though you’ll need to lower your pay expectations.

Sell Unwanted Electronics

Don’t leave smartphones, tablets, computers or specialized school gadgets (iClickers, calculators, etc.) you’re no longer using in a desk drawer or at the bottom of your backpack. You can easily cash in on your unwanted electronics – even damaged items – by selling them online.

Sell used smartphones and Apple products at Gazelle and get paid by check, PayPal or an Amazon gift card; you can also use one of ecoATM’s mall kiosks and get instant cash. You can sell smartphones, tablets and wearables, such as a smart watch, to NextWorth and get paid via PayPal or by check. At uSell, you can sell smartphones, tablets, game consoles and more. You get paid by check or through PayPal. Shipping with all these sites is free. Or take your video games, game consoles, smartphones, tablets and accessories to GameStop to earn cash or store credit without the shipping hassles.

Just as with used textbooks, before you split the profit with a third-party vendor, reach out on social media to let other students know you’re selling a device that they may need for their classes. You’ll skip shipping hassles and keep the full profit for yourself.

Sell Gently Worn Clothing

If you have clothes, accessories or shoes that are in good condition but that you no longer wear, turn them into quick cash by selling them on consignment. Research the consignment shops in your area to find the right match for the types and styles of clothing you have to sell. Most consignment stores will price items at one-third of their retail value, and you’ll likely get 50% of the price at which your items eventually sell. Plato’s Closet is a great resale store for students to sell back their trending teenage clothes. Rather than having to wait until your items sell to get cash, nPlato’s Closet makes an upfront offer for the clothes you bring in, based on style, condition and brand. You’ll walk out the door with cash in hand for the clothes they take.

You might be able to get more for your used clothes by selling them online. For example, you can earn up to 80% of the resale value of women’s and kids’ clothing, shoes and handbags at fashion resale site thredUP. If you have high-end men’s or women’s clothing, jewelry, watches or accessories, try your luck with luxury consignment site The RealReal. You can earn up to 85% of the resale value in cash. Another option for designer clothing and accessories: Tradesy, which pays a 19.8% commission on the resale value of items worth $50 or more. You receive earnings via PayPal, debit card or a bank account. (Note: Several of these sites require you to register before you can enter and explore.)

Poshmark, an easy mobile consignment store, takes it all: clothing for women, men and children, plus handbags, shoes, jewelry and makeup. For sales over $15, you keep 80% of the sale price, and Poshmark keeps 20%. Ebay is also an easy-to-manage resale site; each item you post is up for auction until the deadline you set.

Keep in mind that uploading and monitoring your online closets and sales may require more effort on your part, but it could result in a bigger return.


Babysitting can be a fun way to put money in your pocket if you like kids. Hourly rates vary by city (and the demands of services). In smaller towns and cities, such as Palatine, Ill., the going rate is $10 to $15 an hour; in big cities such as New York and Washington, expect to earn $10 to $40 an hour as a babysitter or nanny. Advertise your services on community bulletin boards, at the public library, and near local primary schools or houses of worship.


(Article written by McKenzie Richmond)