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Paying for College

6 Ways College Students Can Earn Extra Cash

These money-making opportunities are ideal for students with busy schedules.

If you or your child are heading off to college soon, you might be looking for ways to earn a little extra cash for textbooks, living expenses or even tuition. But finding a job that fits into your class schedule can be tough sometimes. Michelle Lopez-Mullins, public relations and marketing coordinator for the University of Maryland Career Center, recommends starting your search at restaurants, shops and businesses near campus because many are accustomed to employing students and are willing to work around their schedules.

If you're looking for something with a little more flexibility, though, here are six money-making opportunities that are perfect for college students.

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Be a tutor. My husband earned $15 an hour tutoring undergraduates when he was a grad student at Georgetown University. In fact, he actually earned quite a bit more when he tutored Ivanka Trump, the daughter of Donald Trump. So if you excel in certain subjects, let your professors know that you're willing to help other students in need -- for a fee. Or advertise your services on campus bulletin boards, in fraternity and sorority houses or on Craigslist. Also check with learning centers in your community that provide tutoring to elementary, middle and high school students, or reach out to schools directly to see if you can advertise your services on their bulletin boards or newsletters.

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Do odd jobs for your landlord. If you rent from an individual rather than a large management company, you might find that your landlord needs help with cleaning, maintenance and landscaping at his or her properties. You might be able to get a reduction in rent in exchange for your services, which will free up your cash for other expenses.

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Be a babysitter. From full-time gigs to occasional stints, babysitting can be a fun way to put money in your pocket if you like kids. In big cities such as New York and Washington, expect to earn up to $20 an hour as a babysitter or nanny. (In small and midsize cities, the going rate is closer to $7 to $10 an hour.) Advertise your services on Craigslist, the bulletin boards on campus, the public library or houses of worship. Be sure to let your professors know that you are available for babysitting. They probably won't hire you while you're in their classes, but they'll probably let colleagues know about your availability or hire you once they no longer have to give you a grade.

Join a street team. This is a way for young adults who are outgoing and articulate to earn some fast cash. Street teams promote products, films, albums, events and more by handing out samples, interacting with people on the street, or dressing as mascots. To get a job earning $20 to $25 an hour, sign up with a company such as Street Team Promotion, which handles promotions in big cities nationwide. Make sure that the company has a contract that specifies when you’ll get paid.

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Be a mystery shopper. You can get paid up to $20 if you agree to browse a store and provide feedback on customer service, merchandise quality, and other quality-control metrics. If you like to shop, can pay close attention to detail and can be dispassionate, this could be a good money-making opportunity. Start by visiting the Mystery Shopping Providers Association’s Web site to see a database of jobs with legitimate companies, and see the association's tips for avoiding mystery shopping scams.

Participate in clinical trials. One of my former colleagues at Kiplinger earned extra cash in college by participating in clinical research trials. Compensation depends on the nature of the trial and the amount of time involved, but payment can range from as little as $25 for a couple of hours of your time to thousands of dollars for longer-term commitments. If your university has a medical research institute, start your search for trials there. Or you can find studies that are actively recruiting participants at ClinicalTrials.gov, a database run by the National Institutes of Health. Search by location to identify local trials.

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