how to pay for college

5 unique ways I pay for college

I pay for college myself. I don’t take my parent’s money and spend my own. This includes textbooks, which are free for the most part for me, room and board, tuition, and of course, fun money. I’ll present the most unique ways I make a little bit of money to pay for college.

How to pay for college by eating pizza

free money

I know how it sounds, but I promise the math on this works out. I’ve detailed in great length how to make money eating pizza before so I’ll give you the wrap-up here. The key to this is getting as much of a discount as possible on the pizza and then buying for all your friends. Once they pay you back, the difference is profit. In order to maximize it, I use discounted gift cards bought with rewards cards through shopping portals. Seriously, read my post about it. It could change your life.

I do this one a lot. Usually for dinner a couple of times a week, if we ever throw a party in my dorm, and sometimes at 3 AM. I probably end up doing it more than half the days of a week for an average of 6 people at a time. My monthly profit on this one is over $100 and it pays for a lot of my food.

How to pay for college by clicking Google searches

serp clix

Another odd one, but it does work. Part of Google’s ranking system involves when a website gets a click and if the user goes back to the search afterward. In order to raise their position in searches, some companies pay for users to search their keyword and click on their website. The main company that brokers these deals is SerpClix.

This won’t make you a lot, but it’s extremely passive. I make about $1 per day just by keeping FireFox open on my computer and when I see the notification there’s a new task, I make a couple of clicks. Since I can program, I’ve even automated it to make the money even easier. And since y’all are my readers, I’ll give you part of my code for free.

The following code is a bookmarklet. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically a bit of code that can be run by clicking on it as if it were a bookmark. You add a new bookmark to your browser and call it whatever you want, but instead of a website address, you paste this code into it.

javascript:for (var i=0;i<document.getElementsByClassName(‘r’).length;i++){if (document.getElementsByClassName(‘r’)[i].style[“background-color”]!=””){open(document.getElementsByClassName(‘r’)[i][‘firstChild’][‘href’])}}alert(‘not yet found’);window.open(document.getElementsByClassName(‘b navend’)[1][‘firstChild’][‘href’],”_self”)

To use this, make the search from the extension and wait a second after the page loads. Then, click on the bookmark that you just made and if the result is on that page, it will open up (allow pop-ups from Google.com) and the site will credit you in a couple of minutes. If it’s not on the page, an alert will show up and take you to the next page when you hit ok.

I recommend that you set Google to show 100 results per page to speed things up. Also, sometimes you may have to repeat the search while allowing duplicate results. Occasionally, a Google maps search will show up and the code won’t help with that. Also, sometimes, the page is never found in a search. In that case, just move on.

How to pay for college by blogging

make money blogging

Bogging or running a website of any sort can be fairly profitable. It does take quite a bit of work and some knowledge, so I’ll admit this is not for everyone. You also need a niche to fall in that you’re passionate about. For me in this case, it’s college. I also have another blog about baseball and a third about network security (hacking).

With WordPress, Wix, etc. you don’t need to know much about hosting, javascript, HTML, CSS, PHP, etc. to have your own blog. I even use WordPress, even though I know enough about those things to do it on my own because it is so much easier. You still will need to know SEO, SEM, etc. Not to mention, you need decent writing and something decent to write about.

For the most part, I’ve been monetizing my blogs with AdSense. There are better avenues, such as affiliate marketing, which I’ve dabbled a little bit into. My blogs are not product-based, though which makes that difficult. However, even 1000 hits a day (very easy target) can net you $200 a month easily. Multiply that by 3 blogs and I’m paying for college and saving for my retirement.

Blogging is great to do if you have extra time, which I do during breaks from school and sometimes at 4 AM because I don’t sleep. If you have a traditional job, it will likely be hard to start up blogging and that’s okay. It may not be for you.

How to pay for college by day trading

day trading

Day trading is extremely risky unless you know what you’re doing. If you know what you’re doing, it’s still risky. Therefore, I don’t recommend it for anyone, but I do day trade and absolutely acknowledge the risk. To mitigate risk, I don’t use margin or trade options.

I also trade for the long term which hedges some risk. My personal risk tolerance is high, though, so I do trade options for some gains. If you don’t know what margins, options, or the difference in trading strategies is, don’t worry. Most people don’t know it or need to know it.

While I do not recommend day trading for any of y’all, you should invest in the stock market. I used to use Robinhood, but I’ve since switched to WeBull (you’ll get two free stocks with my link). WeBull is vastly superior because of it’s easy interface, easy margin account (only use if you know what you’re doing), extended trading hours, shorts, and stock lending program. WeBull also has tons of other benefits that would make me promote them even if I didn’t get a stock if you finish signing up.

Why do I recommend you invest in the stock market? The S&P500 averages 8% annualized ROI in the long term. It’s a great idea for everyone to invest. Even holding just a few stocks minimizes market risk and by lending your stocks through WeBull, you can passively make guaranteed income, which further lowers your risk.

stock risk chart
This shows the risk level of owning different numbers of stocks in your account. A single ETF can mitigate company risk almost entirely. Market risk can be mitigated with multiple asset classes but has a higher risk minimum than company risk. The above chart does not include profits made from stock lending, which mitigates both company and market risks.

How to pay for college by starting your own business

starting your own business

Although this one is not as unique as the others, most college students do not have their own business. I have a small tutoring business that is much stronger during the school year than it is during the summer. I project that in 2020, it will net me approximately $20,000 before taxes. Due to some clever tax work and a new segment of my business I intend to start up, my hope is to reduce my taxes to 0 by increasing my losses and charitable deductions. It’s all perfectly legal, but complex.

I’m not the only one I know with a business. One of my friends started Cheap CourseHero Unlocks while he was in high school and is doing pretty well for himself. Full disclosure, since our niches are related, we’ve agreed to support each other through advertising.

Your business doesn’t have to be related to college, though. You can also try flipping on eBay, real estate if you have enough money and a good credit score, or inventing a new product. There are also digital jobs such as SEO, ad management, app/software development, etc. If you can get your start, even if it’s just freelancing on fiverr, you can raise your income significantly over time and pay for college. Even if you just continue your side hustle after college and pay off your loans with it.

Standard ways of paying for college

Not everyone can do what I do to pay for college and I can’t do what others do as well. You can figure out what works for you, but also keep in mind the traditional ways of paying for school.

how to pay for college
Distribution of money sources spent on college

I do have some scholarship money which helps, but by no means covers everything that I need. Personally, I wish I had focused my time applying for national scholarships into blogging and increasing my business. Except for low competition or university-specific scholarships, most are a waste of time. Too many people apply for even small ones if they’re well known.

I also had a little bit of money in a 529 set up for me by my grandmother. It definitely helps, but also would not cover the full cost. If your relatives are giving you money, especially in a 529, accept it now. You can (and in my opinion should) pay them back later if you’d like.

My parents are older than most of my peer’s parents and as such, mine are focused on retirement. Taking their money and putting it towards my education would set them back quite a few years, so I did not accept any money from them. I don’t think they would have given it, either. If your parents will give you money and you have no reason to not accept it, just take it.

And the final category is loans. If you take parent loans or student loans, you should pay them back. For parent loans, you are not legally responsible, but still, it’s your debt, so own up to it. Loans aren’t a great option but will help if you need it. You can take loans and pay them back with your income source(s) if need be.