6 ways to make money at university

Raining money over a university student in her graduation gown

You could earn a few bucks

Lots of students get to university and realise they could do with a bit more cash. Luckily there are loads of ways to boost your bank balance. Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student, spoke to us about ways to earn money, save cash and make the most of your time at university.

1. Look for a job on campus

Handing your CV out on the high street or on online job boards is an obvious place to start – but there could be shortcuts closer to home. Your university’s careers department can help you whip your CV into shape and give you a heads-up about local vacancies. While you’re there, ask about jobs going on campus: it could be admin work, being a brand ambassador or helping out around your department. The Students’ Union is also a prime place to pick up bar and catering work, though the more venues they run, the bigger the choice!

2. Work for yourself

If employment proves elusive – or the hours don’t suit your studies – it’s never been easier to work for yourself. Some of the most successful student businesses are really simple: they do just one thing with tons of dedication. As a professional mermaid, medical student Yasmin Awan charges £100/hour to appear at children’s pool parties. Sarah Calloway, meanwhile, makes and sells reusable sanitary products, and even bagged uni cash to get started. Remember…

  • Describe your idea in one sentence.
  • Think about who’ll buy your product, time or service – and how will they find out about you?
  • Need advice or funding? Talk to your university’s enterprise team.
  • Find out how tax works: it’ll save you cash (and stress) in the long run.

A student business doesn’t have to change the world – it’s fine to be in it for the extra income! If you’ve got skills to sell, sites like Upwork and Fiverr can connect you with freelance work, though you’ll keep more of the profit if you find your own clients through advertising or word of mouth.

3. Make money from things you own

Selling stuff you’ve outgrown is a great way to bring in quick cash. However, renting them out can be more lucrative: you can earn from the same items several times over, plus you get to keep your gear! Getting started is as simple as posting flyers around campus, though using a service like Fat Lama can make it easier – you’ll pay a commission to the site, but your item is insured against damage in return.

4. Earn cash on the side

Surveys may not make you rich, but waiting for introductory offers before signing up can add hundreds or thousands of points to your account before you even get started. Try Swagbucks, Toluna or YouGov.

You could earn a few bucks for completing tasks, answering surveys or taking part in experiments around campus: the psychology department is often a good bet.

Want employment without the commitment? There’s an app for that! Syft is particularly well rated for temp jobs: they offer hourly rates from £9.15, plus flexible shifts. There’s also a growing number of tasker apps that pay for mystery shopping gigs: try Roamler or Field Agent.

5. Make money from savings

With interest rates so low right now you may only make a few quid a year – but we’re talking free money for even less effort than filling out surveys.

  • Each time you get paid slice 10% off first and put it in a savings account.
  • Haven’t spent all your Student Loan yet? Leave whatever’s left in your savings.
  • Shop around for accounts with the highest interest rates (or bonuses for opening accounts) and move your money if you need to.
  • Leave interest alone, don’t withdraw it. The bigger the amount and the longer you leave it, the more interest you’ll earn.
  • Putting money into an ISA (tax-free savings) now could save you on your tax bill when you graduate or start earning larger sums. Worth planning ahead for!

6. Sell freebies

Blagging freebies or deeply discounted products is second nature to most students. While a good haul can help stock up your cupboards or slash the cost of presents, selling them can net you pure profit. Trial sizes and single sachets may not earn more than pennies a time, but if you collect a few you could bundle them as gift boxes, hampers or collections.

Up-selling – where you sell in-demand pound store or limited edition items for more than you paid  – is a bit more effort, but can be a nifty business in its own right.

The ideas above are brilliant for boosting your bank balance, especially if you stick with them. If you need cash pronto, though, chat to your student welfare adviser at the uni or SU first – they’ll be able to find you emergency funding, work on your budget or go through your options.

Whether you’re desperate or not, get online and hunt down scholarships, prizes, bursaries and charity funds every year that you’re studying. Finding ways to make extra money is a great life skill, but getting everything you’re entitled to really takes the heat off.

Next Steps

  • The Money Advice Service offers free, unbiased and independent advice about all financial matters. 0800 138 7777
  • Use the Money Advice Service's budget planner to take charge of your finances.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Ruth Bushi

Updated on 30-Apr-2018