A guide to making money at university

Lots of people get to university and realise they could do with a bit more cash. Luckily there are loads of ways to boost your income. Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student, has some great ideas when it comes to how to make money as a student, saving cash and making the most of your time at university. The financial experts at Experian also offered their advice for this guide.

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. Check out our article on becoming self employed here.

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, or who you might offer your services to – and how they’ll 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.

It’s also easier than ever to make money online, and a Paypal account can help you move money with relative ease.

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, but using a service like Fat Llama 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

Online 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 some extra cash in your spare time by completing tasks, answering surveys or taking part in experiments around campus. The psychology department is often a good place for a side hustle.

Want employment without the commitment? There’s an app for that! Indeed Flex 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 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. Save money to make money!

  • 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 highly discounted products is another great money making idea. 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 and sell them on social media.

Up-selling – where you sell in-demand poundstore or limited edition items for more than you paid – is a bit more effort, but can be a nice little money maker in its own right.

7. Sell your textbooks

You can use the library instead of spending money on new textbooks, or you can limit how many notes you take on your own textbook and sell them onto students taking the course after you. There’s almost always a Facebook page where students at your uni are selling textbooks!

How to make money as a student

The ideas above are brilliant for boosting your bank balance, especially if you stick with them. If you need quicker ways to make money as a student, 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 in your free time is a great life skill, but getting everything you’re entitled to really takes the heat off.

If you need support and information on all things money, check out our money page, which is full of useful resources.

Next Steps

  • The Money Helper offers free, unbiased and independent advice about all financial matters. 0800 138 7777
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By Holly Turner

Updated on 01-Aug-2021