Quick Cash

undergraduate degrees can be expensive. Many freshmen responsible for paying for college on their own find themselves short on cash and searching for a quick way to make money. Unfortunately, scammers are well aware of this, and cash-strapped freshmen are a favorite target. Some of the more common schemes are those promising individuals they can earn quick cash working at home, mailing letters, and offering invisible services to others. Often, the student will be asked to pay a small fee to learn more about these opportunities, and they rarely make a dime. The familiar trope stating that "if something is too good to be true, it usually is," certainly applies here. There are, however, several legitimate ways for college students to earn a few extra dollars. They may not make you rich, but they can help you pay the rent, buy some groceries, or enjoy a fun night out on the town.

If you don't have time for a part-time job, you can make some extra money by:

Typing papers: Word processing programs have made typing and formatting those college papers a relatively quick and easy process, and providing this service to fellow students is also a great way to earn some spare cash. People frequently decide to hire computer-savvy individuals who are fast typists, particularly if they are under a strict deadline. To start your very own on-campus paper typing business, simply prepare some flyers indicating your contact information and rates. A typical rate is between $10 and $15 per hour, with higher rates for last-minute projects. Flyers should be placed in the busiest areas, in locations where they will be easily seen by passersby. The corridor leading to the cafeteria is a good location, as is the entrance to the library. Your payment policies are completely up to you, but many individuals decide to request a deposit upfront. That way, if the customer fails to pay up after the job is done, you'll only be out part of the money. A final note: while most schools are perfectly fine with a student hiring another individual to type their paper, they will most certainly frown upon hiring another student to write a paper. You might fill in missing words or correct punctuation, but under no circumstances should you be researching information and developing original text.

Giving rides: With the price of gas so high, it's unreasonable for your fellow students to expect a free ride each time they want to go to the mall. So long as you don't own a gas guzzler, charging a few dollars to provide transportation is an easy way to make a few bucks. You can inform others in person or place a small sign in your car window informing others of your rates. It's a wise idea to only provide rides to people you know. Use your intuition - never let individuals in your car if you have a bad feeling about the situation.

Selling used textbooks: Many campus bookstores will buy back used books from students. Remember, the closer they are to original condition, the more money you'll get, so try to refrain from using that highlighter and writing all over the pages if possible. If you don't need the money right away, you can make a better profit by selling directly to another student. If the bookstore has run out of a certain edition of a book, and you have it in your possession, you can usually charge a little extra. Check out the bookstore to help you decide on a price for your used books. Make a few flyers advertising what you have available, and hang them close to the bookstore or in other busy campus locations. It probably won't be long before you get some calls from interested students.

These are some easy ways to earn cash. They're relatively low risk and don't require a great deal of effort. Having said that, you should also know that there are some opportunities that should be avoided, no matter how much money you are promised. They include:

Working in Alaska: Many companies that operate fishing boats post ads in an attempt to entice students to go work on the ocean for the summer. However, working conditions are often quite horrendous (think 20-foot waves, little to no sleep, and harsh weather), and many students have been injured on these ships. It's not worth it.

Folding envelopes: Aside from being a boring and monotonous job, it's also one that pays very poorly. Companies that employ students to do this tedious duty are also known for paying very slowly. You're better off taking a few shifts at your local McDonald's.

Acting as a sales agent: Well, more specifically, acting as an agent for a company that provides a P.O. Box and little else when you ask for their address. This could indicate that they don't have a permanent address. This should be a red flag indicating that you might be dealing with a less-than-reputable company - one that might fail to pay.

Look out for yourself. Beware of offers that are too good to be true. Trust your gut instincts. While these tips won't guarantee you won't be taken for a ride by a scam artist, they make it less likely. Following these common sense rules will help you to earn some extra cash for those everyday college expenses that, as most college students soon discover, can add up fast.

Last Updated: 04/24/2014

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