12 Best Passive Income for College Students

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As student loan debts pile up, generating passive income for college students has never been more important. Here’s a list of the 12 best money-making ideas you can employ along with school work. 

Student loans climb year after year.

In 2019, there were 45 million borrowers, collectively owing more than $1.5 trillion in debt in the United States. Student loans are the second-highest consumer debt category – ranking even higher than credit cards and auto loans. 

Schoolwork is hard enough as it is – with the addition of debts to worry about, college starts to look like an insurmountable ordeal. 

If you need a respite from instant ramen life, here’s compiled a list of passive income ideas for college students you can employ, even in the midst of schoolwork (or partying).  

How college students can earn passive income

Time is Money
Time is money….

So how exactly did I compile this list? I understand that the life of an undergrad can be very hectic, which is why generating passive income for college students has become all the more important. 

Fortunately, you can build a passive income stream without having specialized knowledge or spending so much time on a particular activity. This is, after all, the very essence of passive income: it’s a type of income that requires very little effort to make and maintain.  

I’ve tried most of the ideas on this list with great success, while others are included because of their favorable online reviews.

While most of the items in this list require very minimal effort, be very honest about how much time you can invest before selecting an activity.

The only way you can make substantial cash out of these recommendations is if you remain consistent in applying them to your daily life. 

Top Ways for College Students to Earn Passive Income

Ready to make money? Check out these side hustles and get started! 

1. Play video games

Mistplay website

Mistplay takes the first spot on this list and rightfully so. Video games have an undeniable allure to the youth and being able to spend hours on a video game while getting paid for it is hitting two birds with one stone. 

Mistplay allows you to earn points just by playing video games a couple of minutes per day.

You can select from a list of games, browse for offers, and get rewarded with points from performing a variety of tasks such as downloading games, playing them, and offering your opinion.

You’ll get paid with points according to the time you spend playing and the experience points you garner in the game, 

While you cannot redeem these points for cash, you can exchange them for gift cards in GameStop, Amazon, Xbox, Playstation, Facebook, and Google Play. 

See Related: Mistplay Review: Is It Worth It to Make Money?

2. Answer surveys


Companies would pay just to learn about what you like and what you think about a particular product or service. Passive income for college students is easy to generate if you can spare a few minutes a day answering paid surveys.  

Once you’re subscribed to a paid survey site, they’ll send you a number of surveys per week. The number of surveys varies from platform to platform, so you’ll want to sign up to a company that sends a high frequency of surveys to increase your money-making potential. 

Answering these surveys will earn you points which you may convert to hard cash or gift cards. You’ll find a plethora of paid survey sites on the Internet, and while most of them are legit, others are outright scams.

Our favorites include InboxDollars, Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, and Ipsos I-Say

See Related: 6 Tips to Spot a Survey Scam [Survey and Promotion Websites]

3. Install an app

Nielsen Mobile App

While some companies gather pools of survey takers to collect market research, others will pay you for installing their apps on your laptop or mobile. This allows them to measure your internet behavior to gather business insights.

While giving companies access to your browsing behavior may seem shady, you’ll find a number of market research companies with stellar privacy policies. 

The Nielsen Mobile App offers this service. All you need to do is to install the app into your mobile phone and you’ll get paid yearly by just continuing your mobile browsing activities.

If you’re iffy about sharing your browsing behaviors, you may opt for apps like HoneyGain, which only uses your data connection to gather information for market and business research. 

See Related: 20 Best Side Hustle Apps to Make Money on the Go

4. Get cashback from your shopping

Fetch Rewards website

Cashback shopping is one of the easiest ways to generate passive income for college students. A variety of cashback apps allow you to save on your online shopping and groceries by giving you back a percentage of the money you spent.

Your percentage cashback depends on the app and the deal you selected. 

Once you’ve earned a certain percentage of cashback, you can cash out your earnings or exchange them for gift cards from major retailers. Fetch Rewards and Ibotta are examples of popular cashback apps.

For these apps, you’ll need to snap a photo of your receipt in order to earn from your purchases. 

Websites and apps like Wikibuy and Rakuten Rewards will require you to shop through their online portal to get cashback.

Our other favorites include Dosh, MyPoints, Drop, and TopCashBack

See Related: 11 Best Cashback Apps to Save Money

5. Try out micro-investments


According to a study by Statista, around 12% of young people aged 18 to 29 reported using online investment platforms, and the trend is rising each year.

The ins and outs of investing can be complex for college students, but with today’s robo advisors, risks can be substantially lowered. 

With today’s micro-investing, you can invest with as little as $5. Depending on the platform you invest in, your money can be used in a variety of ways (more commonly to purchase exchange-traded funds or ETFs) with hopes of generating a return. 

Apps like M1 Finance can help college students save through automated investing. Platforms like Robinhood and WeBull offers free shares of stock when you sign in.

Acorns rounds-up all your debit or credit card purchases and uses the remainder to invest in the stock market. 

See Related: M1 Finance vs Robinhood – Which is Better?

6. Write an eBook 

Udemy Homepage

Got some extra time? Selling eBooks can be one of the best passive income streams for college students. If you’re particularly great at one thing, why not consider writing about how to do it so others can do it too? 

Non-fiction eBooks that educate your readers on topics such as online marketing or self-development will sell better than fictional books, especially if you make them available in learning platforms like Udemy.

If you’re the creative type, you can make tremendous amounts of money out of prose as well.

Fiction can be very competitive, especially if you aren’t an established writer, but with some hard work, you can make a decent amount of money by selling your stories. 

7. Try vlogging 


If you’re looking for passive income for college students, creating videos for YouTube can be something most youth can relate to. Today’s YouTube stars are self-made celebrities who earn millions in dollars every year.

Obviously, you won’t make as much when starting out but once your followers grow and engagement spikes, you can start monetizing to earn a decent amount of passive income each month. 

For starters, you won’t get paid just by uploading videos on YouTube. Your earning potential is determined by the level of engagement you make, your niche, and the types of revenue channels you explore.

There are a plethora of ways to earn from YouTube including becoming a YouTube partner to earn money from ads, working with brands as an affiliate or influencer, selling merchandise or products, or through fan funding.   

Subscribe to Financial Wolves on YouTube if you love all things passive income and side hustles.

See Related: Blogging vs Vlogging: 8 Differences to Know

8. Become an influencer

Flexoffers website

You already know that influencers can earn money from their social media channels, but how exactly do they do this? Do note that a certain degree of fame is essential to earn anything near substantial (they aren’t called “influencers” for nothing).

Monetization varies greatly among influencers, and you’ll find that a lot make money through various income streams. One of the most common ways influencers do this is through affiliate marketing.

A brand approaches influencers to promote its products on their page.

When a customer purchases through the influencer’s affiliate link, the influencer gets paid accordingly. 

Influencers can sign up for various affiliate platforms like FlexOffers or MaxBounty, who can connect them to a myriad of sponsors they can collaborate with.

Influencers can also sign up for display advertising or get paid for sponsored posts.

9. Start a blog

Start a niche blog with Bluehost

A blog can be a solid source of passive income if you know how to do it right. It will take some time before your blog takes off and generates steady revenue, but once you’re there, the money-making potential is tremendous. 

Starting a blog from scratch requires a lot of work and time. You’ll need to figure out your niche, have knowledge of search engine optimization, know how to write high-value content, and even be familiar with social media marketing.

Most of these skills are easy to learn, so you can get started with a decent blog even if you have zero experience. 

Once your blog becomes popular, you can start monetizing it by signing up for Google AdSense, writing paid reviews or selling sponsored blog posts.

If you’re a blogging novice, we recommend launching your site with trusted hosting companies like Bluehost or Leadpages

See Related: How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform to Make Money

10. Rent out your car


Around 48% of college students bring their cars to campus in the United States – this means that over half of students in the US already have vehicles. If you’re wondering how to make extra money, know that vehicles can be a source of passive income for college students.

Platforms like GetAround or Turo allow anyone to rent out their vehicles to drivers looking for a temporary ride and expect to earn as much as $720 to $800 a month. 

These platforms allow you to list your car for free while setting your own price and rules. You can customize when your vehicle is available while setting the daily price, or let the platform adjust your price so the company can maximize your earnings.

Vehicle wear and tear can be an issue, as you won’t know for sure how your car will be handled. 

See Related: Turo vs Getaround: What is Better for Owners?

11. Sell your photos online


Leave it to today’s visual-heavy generation to think of creative ways to make money from photos. Today, if you know your way around a camera, you can earn a few bucks from selling your photographs to stock photo websites on the Internet. 

Listing your images on websites like Shutterstock or iStockPhoto will allow you to earn money while you sleep. Of course, if you intend to make money this way, you’ll need to understand photography or post-processing tools like Photoshop. 

Though there’s a lot of competition in this line of work, you’ll find earning this way easier as opposed to traditional commercial photography. With traditional photography, you’ll have to compete with professionals with impressive portfolios, and you’ll only earn after you do your work. 

Stock photo websites will list your images on the web for an indefinite period of time. Anyone subscribed to the stock photo website will have the opportunity to buy your photos, so you can earn money even without lifting a finger.  

If your photographs are particularly brilliant, you won’t find it difficult to sell them. The trick to succeeding in this practice is to find your niche and brush up your post-processing skills.

The most popular types of photos include landscape and business photography. 

12. Advertise on your vehicle


Displaying ads on your vehicle is one of the easiest ways to generate passive income for college students. If you use your car on a regular basis, you might as well earn from it. Companies like Carvertise and StickerRide will pay you to put an advertising sticker or wrap on your vehicle. Once the ads are applied, you can start earning money right away.

Before signing up, it’s essential that you educate yourself with the company’s rules and regulations. StickerRide will require you to turn on their mobile app every time you drive with your vehicle, so the company can calculate your miles driven and pay you accordingly.

Carvertise will require you to drive at least 30 miles per day before they accept you into their program. Check out these other ways to earn money without a job.

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