4 Creative Ways to Pay for College

College costs can seem overwhelming. With rising tuition and fees, sometimes it seems like getting a high-quality education is out of reach. But with a little creativity and hard work, you can find a way to make it more manageable.

Whether you’re trying to pay for a semester’s tuition or textbooks, here’s a list of innovative ways to help pay for college.


Crowdfund your costs

Last month, a Cornell University student raised more than $20,000 to help pay for his tuition through crowdfunding. With crowdfunding, students create an online campaign to ask friends, family, and generous strangers to help fund their education. 

Crowdfunding websites allow users to set up their own online campaigns. Understanding each site’s different features will help you pick the one that’s suitable to your needs.

After you’ve done your research, create your fund and state why your campaign matters. Provide as much information and showcase your personality to entice others to donate. Pictures are always a good addition.

In addition to creating a compelling case, clearly outline how the money will help you. Throughout the campaign, friends and family can spread the word both in person and via social media.

Start your own business

Why wait until graduation to start your own business? Thanks to online resources, it’s become easier for students to launch their own startups. Your own business can help you pay for college expenses and give you real-world experience you can put on your resume. 

Plenty of people have turned their hobbies, interests, and skills into businesses. One University of Virginia student turned her knack for jewelry-making into a burgeoning business that’s helped pay her way through college.

Start by making a list of things you enjoy and figure out whether you can potentially profit from them. Choose an idea that has a customer base that needs or wants what you plan to offer. Then narrow down your idea, product or service.

Some hobbies and passions that you can turn into marketable skills include photography, baking, graphic design, videography and writing. If you live in an area where there isn’t a great variety of local services and amenities, take the initiative and start your own. Some services you could provide include babysitting, tutoring or dog walking.

Start a niche blog

Blogging can open the door to many opportunities. Find something you’re passionate about and create compelling content – whether it’s written, a video, or a combination of the two. For example, if you love makeup you could create video tutorials. Actively promote your content on social media sites to increase your views. 

A niche blog has that novelty factor, and you’re more likely to have a reliable audience. Once your audience grows, you can set up an affiliate program with a company or brand. Affiliate programs are marketing arrangements where bloggers are paid to refer their followers to a brand’s product or service (i.e., sponsored posts). You can also generate revenue from your blog by joining advertising programs.

Become a brand ambassador

If you’re looking for a money-making opportunity that also helps build your resume, consider advertising for businesses or organizations. Brand ambassadors help with marketing programs on campus by appealing to the college demographic. Some marketing activities include: passing out flyers and promotional items, promoting brands through social media campaigns and hosting on-campus events.

Try looking into college student marketing agencies or search for brand ambassador jobs on career websites like Indeed and LinkedIn. You can also visit your school’s career center to see if there are local businesses looking for brand ambassadors on your campus.

There are many opportunities to help you pay for college. It’s always a good idea to look for free money in the form of grants and scholarships, but you don’t have to stop there. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and take a creative approach to help cover your college costs.


Author: Catherine Uy

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