10 Ways to Earn Cash for College This Summer

Make the most of your summer with these money-making ideas that will help you pay for college, no matter your age or grade level.

College has become incredibly expensive and there are many costs that aren’t covered by financial aid. With an average cost of $32,000 in tuition and housing each year, according to NCES, you may need money for books and supplies in addition to food and other expenses. What’s more, it’s not fun to be broke during the school year. You’ll want to have some spending money so that you can do fun things in your free time, even if it’s just going to see a movie with friends.

There are many different ways you can raise money for college. We’ve collected some traditional options, along with some others that are more unique. Plus, what you can do as a high school senior is different from what you can do as a college senior. Discover all of the opportunities that await you this summer!

If you’re graduating from college with some specific creative skill, you may be able to freelance for a few months before heading off to graduate school or a full-time job.

Tips for High School Seniors

Start prepping for college shortly after your high school graduation. It will pay off in the long run to have an idea of how much you will need to spend on dorm room essentials and books. You may even be able to contact someone at your college to see how much students typically spend on books and supplies in their first year. Once you have a rough estimate of how much you need to save in the summer, you’ll be able to plan your money-making strategy.

1. Start Your Own Neighborhood Services

Get some exercise and contribute to your community this summer with neighborhood services. You can charge an hourly or flat rate to help neighbors with simple tasks like home maintenance, walking dogs or house sitting. If you’re strong and pretty good with manual labor, you can mow lawns or clean pools. The elderly in your neighborhood may need help cooking and cleaning. If you have a driver’s license, you could also run personal errands. House sitting is another good option if people in your neighborhood take long vacations in the summer.

2. Get a Summer Job in Retail

This is quite possibly the most common option for high school seniors. Retail stores, from discount department stores like Wal-Mart and Target to every store in the mall, typically see a spike in sales in the summer. So, they are usually looking to hire. In order to beat the summer application rush, talk to managers and put in an application in the spring. This way you’re at the top of the pile when they are ready to do interviews for summer help.

3. Become a Lifeguard

Summer is the perfect time for beaches and pools. Plus, there’s always a need for lifeguards. If you are a good swimmer you may want to consider lifeguard training. You have to be at least 15-years-old to take the courses offered by the American Red Cross. Many community lifeguards have flexible schedules, so you can still have a life. If you’re not interested in sitting outside all day, you can also consider offering private swimming lessons to the people in your neighborhood. (Make sure you are CPR certified!)

Tips for College Students

Once you have earned some college credits, you will have more money-making opportunities available to you. Before you start working, decide what you are saving up for. Maybe you need a new computer or some special software. When you know what you want, then you can make a savings plan.

Personal finance experts oftentimes suggest setting aside a specific amount or percentage of each check. Once you put it in a savings account or your piggy bank, don’t touch it until you have met your savings goal.

4. Find a Paid Internship

While some internship positions are unpaid or for college credit only, many companies are now offering paid internships. Explore roles in fields that interest you and can provide valuable experience in a potential field that fits in with your education and career goals. Internships also help with networking, so you’ll make contacts with people at companies that may interest you later. If you do well over the summer and stay in contact with them, they may remember you after you graduate and apply for a job. Check with your school’s career center and search databases like InternMatch to see what types of options are available near you.

5. Start Tutoring

With a few college credits under your belt, you are in a good position to offer tutoring services. Typically, tutoring companies like Sylvan Learning Center require a bachelor’s degree, but you can offer private tutoring services to younger students or others on campus. Whether you work through your school’s student center or do your own thing at home during the summer, you can choose a central location like a coffee shop or public library to meet your clients.

6. Become a Summer Camp Counselor

Being a summer camp counselor is a challenging, but rewarding experience. Residential summer camps usually offer counselors free room and board for the duration of the camp. You’ll be assigned a group of kids and depending on the camp, you’ll help them do all sorts of things. Academic camps are growing increasingly popular. The Summer Institute for the Gifted and Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth are two residential academic camps where kids take classes. You would be both a teaching assistant and a counselor.

7. Find an On-Campus Job

Lots of college campuses are busy during the summer. Your campus may host summer camps and pre-college programs in addition to summer classes. As a result, there may be openings all over campus. You may be able to get a summer job in the library or student center. You may also find teaching assistant and research assistant positions, which typically pay well. Inquire early about positions because they can go fast.

Tips for College Graduates

A bachelor’s degree may not be enough for what you want to do. If you’re planning on starting graduate school or a professional degree in the fall right after you graduate, you can use the summer to save up for graduate school expenses. This summer would be a good time to establish an emergency fund, an account that you only use when you’re in trouble. You have may more options with a college degree for various seasonal jobs.

8. Help Others as a Fitness Instructor

If you have a degree in physiology or sports medicine, you may be able to pick up some extra cash working at your local gym. Training programs for Zumba and Pilates instructors often just take a set number of hours over a short period of time. (Or, you can work in sales and memberships.) While working at a gym you’ll be able to stay in shape, earn money to pay off any student debt and have a steady income while you look for a more permanent full-time job.

9. Summer School Teacher

If you’re planning to pursue an advanced degree in education or a teaching certification program, you’re going to need something to do in the summer between graduation and the start of a teaching program, like Teach for America. Depending on your state’s education laws, you may be eligible to teach summer school. Some states have internship programs that allow un-certified college graduates to teach summer school under the watchful eye of a veteran teacher. You may also be eligible to teach summer school in private schools, where eligibility requirements vary.

10. Try Some Creative Freelancing

If you’re graduating from college with some specific creative skill, you may be able to freelance for a few months before heading off to graduate school or a full-time job. Graduates with degrees in the humanities or social sciences may find success in freelance writing or editing or other freelancing options like web design, social media consulting, virtual secretarial work and much more.

Quick Tips

  • If you are a high school senior with no prior work experience, put together a resume with some of the extracurricular and athletic activities you did in high school. Think about ways to frame your experience that shows how you are qualified for different jobs based on your resume.
  • Many high schools and colleges will have information about different paid internships and part-time jobs listed on the school’s website. Check with your academic advisor or see a career counselor for help finding opportunities available through your school.
  • Don’t forget to set a budget this summer. Make sure you identify how much you want to save each week so you don’t accidentally spend the money you are trying to earn this summer.
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