Passive Income For College Students: Top 57 Ideas

I’m sure college is tough enough as it is, but you really want to learn some passive income ideas for college students. Maybe you have student debt piling or you just want to take control of your financial future. And you want to start investing now – possibly retire early.

Yet, social and personal life includes extra costs from the barely manageable upkeep you get and student debt – the giant monster. And maybe you find it extremely difficult to save.

Picture this vision: instead of the constant snacks you live on, you get to treat yourself more often. 

You can make more than 50% of your savings from passive income amidst your busy college life. Interesting right?

Passive income doesn’t come easy. You have to work for it and trust the process.

I hope I haven’t scared you off too soon. Read on to find passive income for college students.

What is passive income?

From the word itself, you can easily deduce or misunderstand the meaning. Passive income is a stream of revenue that requires little or no direct work after you set it up.

College students require little active involvement. Therefore, it suddenly becomes an attractive venture. 

That is, sadly, not the case. I know, it seems that I’m contradicting myself so before we get started, let’s do some myth-busting:

1. Passive means you do nothing.

It’s FALSE. At the beginning of any income venture, you require one or two things, and sometimes both: time and money. You can’t expect to succeed without any sacrifice.

2. You need to be rich to make money.

Think Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook idea. Jeff Bezos with his Amazon.

Their ideas are both passive income sources. Although Mark and Jeff are  some of the richest in the world, they all started from somewhere. Mark in his dorm room and Jeff in his garage. 

You don’t need to be rich to make this type of money. All you need to do is find an idea and execute it. 

3. You can get set up in two days.

Your  vision may be to earn with little maintenance, but the setup process may take a while. The plus to this is that the income generated will flow for years after that.You can consider a number of ideas as a source of passive income – which we’ll get into shortly. The ideas may seem easy but factor in your busy schedule. 

You have to be consistent to succeed, plus you don’t want to take up a side hustles that destructs you from your main goal now- being a student.

Are you ready to get into it? Here are some ways to chase cheques.

How College Students Can Make Money Online

Smart passive income ideas for college students that require upfront monetary investments 

1. Try out micro-investments

Passive income for college students
Passive income for college students

As children, there was always the good ol’ piggy bank safe we had for the extra shilling we saved. If not, you knew of someone who had one. 

Even with the possibility that the piggy bank was unavailable, there was somewhere you would stash your extra bucks. You’d keep the cash safe and only take it out when you felt you had saved enough.

Micro-investment is almost the same ideal with one huge difference. 

The money you stash away gains interest through investments. It heavily beats the need to save cash in banks, which may not accrue as much interest as investing.

Micro investing may not be able to kickstart your retirement fund, but it is a better return than if your money were to sit in a stash, gaining no interest at all.

How to get started

  • Research on useful investing apps.
  • Join your desired investment app.
  • Link the app to your bank account/Mpesa etc.
  • Fund your account.
  • Begin investing.

2. Ship stuff for others

Passive income for college students

Shipping stuff for others looks like the most expensive endeavor but have you heard of Dropshipping? 

Advertise products,  although you do not own the stock and sell it at a profit. The supplier, being Amazon, delivers the product to the customer and gets your profit. Amazing right?

Passive income ideas perfect for college students requiring upfront time investment 

3. Make YouTube videos

Passive income for college students

We live in a world where youth would love more than anything to escape from reality. How is this achieved? YOUTUBE, TikTok, etc.

Any social platform where people showcase their lives through videos. Most of the YouTube stars today are self-made.

Paychecks will not start immediately but generally depends on you to engage your viewers. The easiest way to make money on YouTube is to monetize your channel.

4. Create an App

Passive income for college students

Assuming you are a Computer Science student. Is there any better way to make money than to maximize your field of study and create an App and sell it to an App store? 

The purchase does not necessarily have to be a one time sell. You could easily offer subscription fees or even in-app purchases.

If you don’t fall into the criteria of being an IT student, you can pay a programmer to code the App for you.

5. Affiliate Marketing

Passive income for college students

Affiliate marketing means earning a commission on a product that is not yours by promoting and convincing other people to buy them. You gain commission per sale. Low commissions in the beginning should not discourage you. Everything worth takes time.

Does this seem to interest you? Read this article on how to get started with affiliate marketing.

6. Start a blog

Passive income for college students

Do you have any content that you have vast knowledge about and you’re passionate about? Blogging may just be the thing for you.

All it needs is a good strategy on how to get started. Although you should not expect returns as soon as you publish your first post, with time and more traffic onto your blog, you can begin to monetize it by using Google AdSense.

Since it is a venture that gives you a feeling of relaxation after a busy day, what’s the harm in giving it a try?

7. Create a course on Udemy

Passive income for college students

Are you an expert at something? Do you wow you friends and family at how you do something? It could be a sport or a hobby. And people are always asking how you do it so well and easily.

Right there is an opportunity to create a simple course that teaches people how to do it. 

Actually, you can mix your blog and the course together.  Capturing the reader’s attention with your blog and sending them over to your course on Udemy. You can also sell the same course on your blog.

All you need to really get your foot out the door is an audience. This can be achieved through an already founded blog or vlog.

8. Licensing Music

Passive income for college students

Are you a good singer? Can you produce beats? Are you good with instruments? Maximize on these talents. You can license your music to gain royalty when someone else uses your music to make money. This can be on YouTube, Advertisements, etc. 

This is how to get started.

9. Selling stock photos and videos

Just like licensing your music, you can gain a commission from selling your stock photos and videos. If you are great at photography, this may just be a way for you to easily earn passive income.

10. Network Marketing

Passive income for college students

Picture a pyramid. 

Its top-down image with the lower level being bigger than the top. That is precisely how network marketing works. A group of salespeople sells a product, keeping the profit to themselves. The salespeople recruit new sales people and get a small portion of their recruits’ sales. 

The company saves a lot of advertising revenue because network marketers do the advertising for them.

11. Influencer Marketing

The term influencer was not always so casually thrown around. It was exclusively for Beyonce and Rihanna’s likes, but now, as long as you have a dedicated following, you are an influencer.

If you’re an influencer, it is not hard to tell, especially with the rise of social media, i.e., Instagram. If you believe you are fit to fill those shoes, try out Influencer marketing.

That is where you market products to your audience at a price, of course. Depending on the products and your niche, your initial cheque may vary. Pro Tip:  Research widely on your audience and what they would like to know what services to search for.

12. Refer clients to businesses.

Passive income for college students

It’s almost similar to network marketing. 

All you have to do is create a link between a business and a new client. 

When someone makes a purchase, the company sends you a commission.

You may also be at liberty to get people under you to refer clients to the same business, getting a percentage of their commission.

Profitable passive income ideas for college students requiring both time and monetary investments 

13. Do translations online

Did you know that if you were fluent in any language, even English, you can be an online translator? 

Remember, you don’t have to start big right away. Word of mouth is essential in this kind of industry as small projects go a long way.

14.Get into Freelance writing for blogs

Passive income for college students

Do you have a knack for words? Do you love to write? It may just be the one for you then. 

Look for companies, even small ones, that need a blogger and help them get started.

You can become a freelance writer even without experience.

How to Become a Freelance Writer Without Experience

15. Car wash

I hope you like getting your hands dirty. Owning a car wash service for your neighborhood may just be your income breakthrough.

Start small with several cars per week, and soon you’ll be able to get someone to oversee the business as it grows.

16. Start an eCommerce business

I’m sure there’s someone around you who needs something but has no idea where to start and how to get it. 

Find out what that product is and start your business.

Easy passive income for college students

Did you find the above ways quite complicated and still wondering…

How can college students make easy money? If you are still looking for easier ways to make extra money, this section will propel you in the right direction.

17. Cashback Sites

Who wouldn’t like getting any money back? Anytime you go shopping, you get a percentage of what you spent back-as some sort of reward.

As soon as you have gained a certain amount, you can cash out.

Visit to see various deals.

18.Audiobook Narrator

If you love to read and you love to act, then audiobook narration is perfect for you.

There are set tools available to help you with the journey, one of them being ACX

19. Online Surveys/Taking Surveys

In the tech world we live in, data is just but the most expensive thing one can have. Most companies would pay thousands just to know what your preferences are. 

All you would need to do is subscribe to a paid survey website. Completing the surveys earns you points that you can cash out. 

You’ll need to be careful, though. As with most of the things on the internet these days, it may just be a scam.

Here are some just to get you started:

20. Get Paid To Have An App On Your Phone

Can you imagine getting paid to just have an app on your phone?

These apps may require you to answer trivia questions or even play games. Pick an app from this list.

  1. Mistplay
  2. InboxDollars
  3. Lucktastic

21. Do User Testing Online

I cannot continue to stress how much tech is a rising asset. With the many software and applications developed, developers constantly search for users to test the beta versions online. 

Although you give input to the sites and apps, you get to say that you saw it first.

UserTesting is one of the paid sites to check out.20. Reward and Discount Programs

If you pay any of your bills using your credit card. Inquire if they offer rewards and discount programs. 

If they do, you can let the rewards accumulate and maybe even put the money earned into another venture you own, i.e., Micro Investment, setting up your own e-commerce business, etc.

The 10 Best Short-term Investments That’ll Boost Your Savings

13 Best Investment Apps for Beginners to Save and Build Wealth (With Just $5)

22. Participate In Market Research

If you enjoy interactions with people, maybe get into market research. It involves getting people to open up, and help you gather and analyze information on potential customers.

It  may involve going door to door or just calling them on the phone. No matter what, the main aim is to set the company on a trend depending on what the customers need.

23. Advertise with your car

Advertising on your car may just be the easiest way to earn, especially if you use it regularly. 

Most companies like Stickerride would expect a record of how long you drove with the advert stuck on your car adjust like that; you earn money right away.

Selling Stuff is another profitable passive income idea for college students.

24. Selling on eBay

Do you have items that you just found and realized that you have never once used it since you bought it? 

Try selling it on eBay. eBay has a great user experience, giving new users a step by step guide on how to get started.

You can sell anything from leather-bound planners at $20 or try your luck with board game pieces i.e., backgammon tokens, at $100. They are of value as people collect them.

Work Ideas to earn in school

25.Become A Virtual Assistant

Do you have good communication skills, this may just be the path to your vision then. 

Being a VA is basically doing admin and tech services for clients. 

The clients may require you to respond to emails on their behalf or even answer calls. This may earn you up to $5 an hour.

How to Become a Real Estate Virtual Assistant And Make a Living

26.Data Entry

With basic typing skills, the entry barrier to a data entry job is low.. 

All that will need to do is input data that is probably in hard copy form into a computer. These types of jobs may pay hourly or per word.

Data entry is not a high pay job, any online position that immediately offers insane pay may be a scam. 

Be careful to vet the job thoroughly.

27. Offering transcriptions

Much like data entry, this work can be quite involving. Being a transcriptionist, you are required to listen to audios and transcribe them. That’s it.

You are paid depending on how long the audio is. 

The longer the audio, the more the pay.

28. Do Microjobs On Amazon/Mechanical Turk

Do you have a field where you have expertise on, sign up on Mechanical Turk.

It’s a marketplace that makes it easier for people to outsource jobs.

29. Rent a Friend

With the sudden wave trend of online dating sites, imagine online friendship sites. 

You can join the site and offer to be a tour guide, a teacher of a hobby, a plus one to a sporting event.

A friend on Rent a Friend is paid hourly.

 Other ways for college students to make passive income

30. Participate in sleep studies

Passive income for college students

How easy would it be to believe that you can be paid to sleep?

A lot happens when you sleep, and scientists are very interested in that particular state of vulnerability. All you need to be is in good health.

Read this article on how someone gets paid 100 pounds to sleep.

31. Recycle cans and bottles

Recycling is very good for the planet. 

Who wouldn’t mind benefitting personally from the effort though? You just hosted a party. All your friends were over and it was a blast. 

It’s now morning and guess what! There are cans and bottles everywhere for you to clean up.

Easy fix! Turn them into a recycling company in exchange for money.

32. Recycle scrap metal

Do you have metal lying around your compound? Do you not know how to deal with it? 

Metals are really sought after. Turn it in to scrap yards. Recycle as you gain!

33. Become a medical test volunteer

Passive income for college students

Clinical studies rely heavily on healthy volunteers. 

People with certain diseases may also participate. Inquire with your doctor if you are eligible to join any clinical trials. 

If you get into it and feel not up to it, you may leave at any time.

34. Niche membership sites

What exactly is a membership site? 

This is a site where specific content is posted and only those with credentials are able to access it. Diving deeper to what a niche membership site is, it is basically a subset of the larger picture. 

For example, the niche of Carrefour could be the Grocery Lane.

In this context, a niche membership site is where you create within a specific topic for a chosen set of people. 

These websites are able to gain money through advertising and affiliate marketing.

Passive income sources for college students requiring upfront monetary requirements

35. Flipping cars

Are you a car enthusiast? 

Car flipping is an art. You buy vehicles at low prices and sell them for a profit. The challenge is finding where to buy and where exactly to sell. 

It also requires a sufficient amount of revamping to be able to make the sale.

36. Flipping items on craigslist

Much like flipping cars, you can flip items on craigslist. 

With this, you buy an item from a sale or even from craigslist itself, revamp the item and sell it on craigslist for a profit.

You can end up buying a car bumper at $5, revamping it to a chandelier and selling it for $30.

37. Peer-to-peer lending

Passive income for college students

Peer-to-Peer lending is loaning money to borrowers who do not qualify for traditional loans like in banks. Being the lender, you are free to choose the borrowers, determine the risk you are willing to take.

Your job is to lend money and get paid back interest on the loan.

Here is a list of the best peer-to-peer lending sites.

  1. Prosper
  2. Lending Club
  3. Peerform

Passive income ideas for college students requiring both time and monetary investments

38. Rent your car or bike

Do you have a car or a bike? 

Wondering how to make extra money?

Simply rent it out. It can be to your friend or even a renting service. List it on sites like Turo and sit as it earns for you.

39. Rent your place

Passive income for college students

Similarly, you can rent out your place i.e. subletting. You can sublet on Airbnb. It may take some time and money investments for example, furnishing and paying of monthly utilities, but you still make a profit. 

Through free listing, Airbnb does everything for you. All you do is confirm the space and pick the money owed to you.

40. Rent your parking spot

Passive income for college students

Do you know that cars spend the majority of their time parked? 

Parking spots are very valuable as they are cheap and not as easy to come by. 

Do you live in an area with a parking spot and you have no car?  Do you know of anyone looking for extra parking space?

Come up with a contract and rent yours out.

41. Rent your storage space

It is easy to turn your extra room into a passive income. Rent out space and create a side hustle without any effort. It may not be enough to make you a millionaire but it will certainly get you started.

With the money, you earn you may grow your extra room and turn it into a storage complex. 

That may certainly set you on the path towards millions.

42. Rent your things

This is just like renting out your car. It is important to insure them first though, just in case of an eventuality. Your  things can range from camera equipment to sports equipment.

These apps would definitely set you up.

  1. StyleLend-for your clothes.
  2. Spinlister-for your outdoor gear.
  3. KitSplit-for your camera equipment.

43. Charging scooters

Scooters. The new trendy way to get around in many different areas. 

The only difficult thing is figuring out it’s charging. This is where you come in. 

Link yourself with a scooter company to get their approval.

Although you may end up paying for the electricity yourself and using fuel to get the scooters yourself, it’s a worth it venture.

As soon as you return the scooter to its nest, you get paid your fee.

Pro tips: 

  • Work in teams to be able to collect as many scooters as you can.
  • Go searching at the right time mainly at night.

Other work ideas to help you make passive income

44. Food delivery services

All you need is a car, driver’s license, some gas and you can make some money. 

With the rise of technology, food delivery rose with it. The tiresome task of having to drive out to get food when you can order and have it delivered to your doorstep is highly appealing.

Apps like UberEats are one of the best in the world. Despite all this, the revenue greatly depends on your area of service and the tipping you make. Even so, the tips are 100% yours.

45. Print on demand

By any chance are you a graphic designer? 

Print on demand may just be perfect for you. 

Sell your own designs on certain products like t-shirts. You can partner with certain retail shops to get your prints in the market.

46. Teaching languages

If you are interested in the art that is languages, why not teach a language? It may vary from your own native language to an international language. 

If you study a language or even if you take it as an elective in school, you can offer to tutor a student in it for a small fee.

47. Video editing

Since we established earlier that videos are the way of life for youths these days, why not initiate an interest in editing those videos if you don’t know how to already?

Your services may range from animations to cutting out unwanted scenes. 

Either way, you get to network with youtubers and build a brand for yourself early on.

48. Become a calligrapher

Calligraphy can be a profitable business if maximized to its full potential. 

You need time to perfect the skill and become the best.

With your skills, you can even approach card making services to join in on their team as one of their designers. 

49. Become a voice-over artist

Much like audiobook narrating, being a voice-over artist requires  the same artistic talents. 

You  will need to audition much like acting gigs for the cast. Even so, the returns would definitely outweigh the sacrifice.

Read Getting Into Voice Acting to get more insight.

50. Become a notary public And Loan signing agent

These are officials that mainly oversee legal processes. 

You may act as a legal witness to a document signing. 

It will cost you to become a notary public, but it will also earn you thousands a month acting as one.

51. Find a paid internship

Depending on your field of study, the only way for you to earn passive income would be investing in it. Find a paid internship to gain experience and build your resume. 

The best way to start this up would be with LinkedIn to help with networking and finding that internship.

It’s wise to keep in mind that if you perform a good job during your internship, your employer may offer you a full-time job immediately.

52. Pick Up Dog Poop For Others

You walk out the door one morning late to school and you end up stepping on a pile of dog poop. And it happens every other day.

You immediately think of storming all the way to the dogs’ owners’ house. Suddenly, you remember that there are so many dogs in the neighborhood. Which dog is to blame? Save the rage and come up with a business idea. In fact, be the first volunteer for the job- for a pay of course.

This way, you are able to walk out of the door without caution, knowing all the poop is taken care of and a booming business too. 

53. Be the neighbourhood pet sitter

Passive income for college students

I hope you are an animal lover because if you’re picking after the dogs’ poop, why not just dog sit/pet sit. 

Research on the types of animals in your neighborhood and choose the ones you would enjoy caring for. 

You may even decide to incorporate the poop pick up business for an extra fee.

Approach the owners and strike up a deal.

You never know, you may just end up coming up with a pet sitting business.

54. Become a postmate

Much like the UberEats venture, all you need is a car, a driver’s license, and be within a Postmates market and you can become a post mate. This is a company that deals with the delivery of meals and/or other goods ordered. 

Selling stuff earns passive income easily for college students

55. Selling ice cream

Who doesn’t love ice cream? 

Wait.. don’t answer that because it is an utter sin not to love ice cream.

Invest in a food cart and start your business. Find proper suppliers and get into the right environment to sell your product i.e. a park on a really sunny day.

56. Selling your notes

Do you just have the best notes? 

Are you that one kid in class who’s notes were used as the bar of perfection? 

Selling notes is an easy passive income for college students.

Invest in StudySoup. Here, you are able to sell your notes in any form, be it videos or PDFs.

57. Sell old college papers 

Did you know that there was a way to sell that one random paper you wrote in college where you surprisingly got an A? 

GradeSaver creates a platform where they look through your essay, and if it is considered good, they pay you for it.

Front load your life

There are two states of life: young and old

When you are a young, you have the time, the energy but little to no money. When you are old, and you did not maximize your time when young, you end up having all the time, no energy, and ultimately no money.

Strive to work hard now, while young so you don’t have to work as hard later. College is the best time to start. You have the time, definitely the energy and you’re working for the money. 

That is what front loading is about: Working hard early on in life.

This way of living beats the path that society has seemed to set up for an average person. This path being:

  • Take out a students’ loan.
  • Go to college. 
  • Find a job.
  • Get married and have children.
  • Get more loans for your house.
  • Work hard for years to pay off all the debt and if you’re lucky, you’ll have some left over or when you retire.

This is definitely not the way to live. It’s purely exhausting.

Many paths have been set in front of you. All you need to do now is choose the one that conceptualizes the vision we discussed at the beginning of this piece. Now is the best time to jumpstart your future.

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Andia Riz
I'm an ex-banker, agency owner, and SEO & Content Expert for Financial Service Providers & Personal Finance Bloggers. I leverage my expertise in financial writing & SEO to drive more traffic to your blog. Whether you want more traffic to your website for new customers, Ad revenue, or affiliate sales, I can help.
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