6 Ways to Make (Mostly) Passive Income While in College

Sara Lindberg Updated on April 17, 2018

Let’s face it, college is no fun when you’re broke. But between classes, studying, laundry, and friends how can you possibly find time to get a real job? That’s where the concept of passive income comes in. 

Simply put, passive income is money you make with very little effort on your part. Sounds pretty close to perfect, right? 

Of course, you will need to invest a significant amount of time upfront in order to get your product/service established. But after some hard work, you should be able to earn income without a whole lot of effort on your part. 

Here are six ways to make (mostly) passive income while in college.

Tutor your peers

While not completely passive income, you can set up tutoring to resemble a passive cash flow. If you commit to only working with students in your classes, the money will come with very little effort from you. 

For example, if there are two students in your math class that are struggling and you are acing the class, schedule a study session for all three of you to work together. You can tutor them while also doing your work, which makes this a win-win. 

Open an online store

Sites like eBay and Etsy are a great way to make money if you have items to sell.

There is an initial time and creativity investment with Etsy but if you can come up with a product that is easy to produce and yields a high return, this could be an easy source of (mostly) passive income. Handmade arts and craft items, jewelry, and even digital products are big money makers on Etsy. 

eBay is another go-to site for making money with very little time commitment. You can start by taking a look around your living space and closet for itemts to put on the site. Once you sell a few pairs of Jordan's and establish a customer base, you have the potential to earn some serious spending money.

See also: 5 Ways to Solve Tuition Gaps in Your Spring Semester

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Self-publish

You don't need to be a journalism or English major in order to make money writing. What you do need is a computer and a story you can sell.

If you want to earn income as a writer, you need to produce a product such as an ebook, online training manual, or print publication that earns money each time a copy of it sells.

Once your product is ready to market, you can self-publish on a site like Amazon and earn money while you sleep. 

Yes, this strategy is probably more time-consuming than the other ideas on this list. However, lots of people are making money with self publishing these days. Why not you?

Invest your money

If you have any financial sense, you might want to think about having a passive income/investment portfolio. While this may sound like a great idea, it’s definitely not for everyone. 

For starters, you have to know what you’re doing. Don’t invest in the stock market if you don’t even know what it is or how it works. You also need to be willing to leave the money alone.

Yes, your investment will go up and down, but that’s the nature of the beast. Investing requires you to sit tight and be patient. Besides, you’re young and have plenty of time to grow your worth. 

In order to get started, you need to have money that you can invest. Once your portfolio starts growing, you can reinvest your earnings and continue to increase your income. 

Become a landlord (with your parents help, of course)

It’s not uncommon for parents of a certain income level to buy a duplex or house and rent out space to other students.

If your family is able to swing something like this, you could ask to be the landlord on site and get paid a portion of the rent money. Of course, this may require you to fix toilets and repair holes in the wall. But if the renters are quiet, clean, and respectful, this form of passive income is a win-win for all. 

Sell your smarts

If you take good notes in class, why not sell them to other students? Talk about a true source of passive income.

Since you plan on going to class and taking notes, you might as well go one step further and burn a few copies to sell to your friends.

But before you go and announce to the class that you’re open for business, make sure you’re clear on the line between selling a copy of the lecture notes and plagiarism or cheating. Check out the school’s policy about cheating before you take on this form of passive income. 

See also: 5 Ways to Maximize Your College Meal Plan 

Published in: How to Pay for College

About the Author
Sara Lindberg

Sara Lindberg, B.S., M.Ed., is a freelance writer specializing in business, finance, health, and wellness. She holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Exercise Science and a Master's Degree in Counseling. When she’s not writing, Sara can be found at the gym lifting weights, running the back roads to train for her next half-marathon, and spending time with her husband and two children. Read more by Sara Lindberg

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