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A recent report by Forbes painted a grim picture about college debt, indicating students had a cumulative loan debt of $1.7 trillion.

As a student, you may feel the need to seek part-time employment to ease the cash crunch, but that may not be possible when you have exams, daytime classes or one of those challenging STEM courses that occupy all your time.

Luckily, there is another viable way. These are the top 9 passive income ideas to star saving for college.

1. Answering surveys

Since the Forbes article estimates that the average student loan debt stands at over $36,000, it makes sense to try to increase and supplement your income.

Spare a few minutes a day to answer paid surveys. You’d be surprised at the number of companies willing to send money your way just to learn what college students do and think.

Sure, you won’t get a ton of money, but hey, every coin counts, right? The cash is enough to cover some minor expenses like meals, allowing you to save the extra money for more serious stuff, like clearing student loans.

Some popular paid survey companies include:

  • Ipsos I-Say
  • Swagbucks
  • InboxDollars
  • Survey Junkie

2. Real estate

One passive income idea any college student could try is real estate. You may think this is impossible, considering that even the most affordable of properties cost north of $400,000 - way beyond the reach of most students.

However, this all changed with the enactment of the JOBS Act in 2012. Congress allowed companies to come up with the innovative real estate crowdfunding product.

For the first time in history, people could invest small amounts in real estate. They could then distribute the returns according to whatever amount an investor contributed.

Examples of popular real estate crowdfunding real estate companies include:

  • Roofstock
  • Fundrise
  • FarmTogether
  • EquityMultiple

Some of these allow as little as $500 to start investing!

3. App testing

Another similar way of making small amounts of cash is installing apps. Companies launch apps all the time, but there is cut-throat competition, so pressure to get it right off the bat is incredible. 

That forces them to select a few people to run the beta version tests, or they could monitor user activity to fine-tune their software before releasing it to the general public, and that’s where you come in.

For example, the Nielsen Mobile App observes your internet behavior to gain marketing insights. All you have to do is install the app on your phone and keep browsing as usual, and they will mail your check at year’s end.

Another app is HoneyGain, which monitors your data connection for its business and marketing research.

4. Micro-investing

Investing in the stock market can seem intimidating, but micro-investing has lifted the veil on that.

Stock market investing has never been easier, as some platforms allow as little as $5 investments. The platform selects the best way to get returns for investors, using various avenues such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or shares.

Platforms such as WeBull and Robinhood offer free shares upon registering, while M1 Finance offers automated investing for the complete passive investing and income treatment.

The Acorns platform is unique as it rounds up the remainder from credit and debit card purchases to invest in the stock market.

That said, you need to be cautious when investing in the stock market because it carries a bigger risk than other investment forms.

Take your time to learn the game, use the demo trading account where you can trade in virtual money, and master the technical and fundamental analysis before sinking your teeth into it.

That way, you can make informed decisions before you decide to use your hard-earned money to place a trade.

5. eBooks

You can harness your skills into an eBook and earn some serious cash from its sales.

Let’s say you have a unique way of working out sums that students find easier to understand than how lecturers explain it. You could compile these innovative ways into an eBook and sell it on Amazon or learning platforms like Udemy.

Alternatively, you could try poems or other forms of creative writing. You never know – this could turn into a lifetime career.

6. Vlogging

Prospective students are always curious about college life, so why not give them a tour of the place? That’s what some enterprising students do, earning some healthy passive income in the process.

Like the other ideas on this list, you won’t make much at the start, but if you keep churning out epic content, your views will rise, helping you monetize the channel through:

  • Advertising
  • Fan funding
  • Selling merchandise
  • Influencer or affiliate marketing

What’s more, various video-centric platforms cater to different demographics, such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

The most prominent personalities who Vlogged about college life on YouTube include:

  • annemariechase – 138K subscribers
  • Katherout – 167K subscribers
  • Thomas Frank – 2.2 million subscribers
  • Elliot Choy – 942K subscribers
  • TheStrive Studies - 338K subscribers

7. Blogging

If making videos isn’t your thing, how about blogging? Neil Patel has this definitive guide to starting a blog that he reckons can earn you over $3,000 per month even if you work on it part-time.

All you have to do is brainstorm new ideas, create an editorial calendar that suits your schedule, and then monetize your blog.

He suggests coming up with ideas from what you do currently, such as relationship or fitness advice you give friends freely. Alternatively, write about a challenging topic that most of your classmates struggle with, but you breeze past.


8. Rent your car

About half the students in college have cars. Unknown to many, they are passing off an opportunity to get passive income from renting out those vehicles.

App platforms such as Turo and GetAround allow renters to list their rides for free, setting their own rules and price. That means you can select the vehicle availability or allow the company to auto-adjust the pricing.


9. Selling photos

If you have an excellent phone that takes real nice pictures, why not try to sell them?

Having a good eye helps, but a few lessons on taking good photos first and photo editing on tools like Photoshop should have you ready for the challenge.

There is no shortage of sites where you can earn passive income from selling photos, such as iStockPhoto and Shutterstock.

Although the competition is tight in this segment, the trick is finding a footing in popular niches such as business and landscape photography while brushing up on your post-processing skills.


Bottom line

Although studying, assignments and exams prevent college students from seeking paid employment, that doesn’t mean they can’t supplement their cash flow. They could try out the passive income streams suggested above to save cash for college use.

Tags: Passive Income Streams

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