For many college students, making money can be a challenge.
While going to school can be a major time suck, you might still want to make some extra money. But if you don’t have the time, how will you make money?
Passive income can allow you to make money without a significant amount of ongoing work.
In this post, I’m going to explore some of the best passive income ideas for college students and how you can get started making money with passive income today. Let’s get started!
What is Passive Income?
While there is no one perfect definition of passive income, it’s best described as an income stream that requires little to no ongoing work.
This means that once your income stream is built, you won’t need to spend large portions of your day dedicated to it.
While many people will exchange time for their money in the form of a typical job, passive income allows you to make money without dedicating time to it.
It’s so easy, right!?
Well, not exactly.
You’ll need one of two things to build a passive income stream: time or money.
Some passive income streams, like dividend investing, will require a significant amount of cash if you want to make a great deal of money from it. Other examples, like starting a blog, won’t require much cash at all, but instead, you’ll need to dedicate a good deal of time to growing your audience to make money.
You might be wondering, “what’s the difference between passive income and residual income?” and in short, nothing at all. When it comes to income streams, passive income and residual income are identical.
Best Passive Income Streams for College Students
There are hundreds of potential passive income streams that many people are capable of starting. Below I’ve put together some of my favorite passive income streams for college students.
Start a Blog
While there’s a big debate among bloggers as to if blogging is truly passive income, either way, it can be an excellent way to make money in your free time.
Because creating content and growing an audience can take a significant amount of time, some bloggers do not consider blogging passive income.
But the truth is, once your blog has a growing audience, 90% of the income it generates will be passive.
One of my favorite things about blogging is that there is a niche for every interest so there’s sure to be something you can write about. Whether you’re interested in health and fitness or personal finance and investing, starting a blog is a great passive income stream for any college student.
Related: How to Start a Blog
Invest in Dividend Stocks
If you’ve managed to save up some extra cash during your college years, consider investing it into dividend stocks to build your passive income portfolio.
Dividend stocks pay dividends or cash payments from the companies profits to shareholders on a regular basis.
The amount of money you can make with dividend investing depends on the amount of money you have to invest. You can find some dividend stocks that pay anywhere from 2% to 6% per year in dividends. This means if you were to invest $10,000, you could earn anywhere from $200 to $600 in dividends in the first year.
Dividend investing is an excellent way to build a 100% passive income portfolio as it requires no ongoing work at all.
Open a High Yield Savings Account
If you’re looking for a passive income option with little to no risk, depositing your money into a high-yield savings account can be a great option.
While the interest earned on your money isn’t the most lucrative, it has extremely low risk compared to other forms of investing.
You can expect to earn around 1% in interest on your money but this will fluctuate depending on market conditions.
Create a YouTube Channel
Similar to starting a blog, creating a YouTube channel is debated as passive income.
It can take a large investment of time to get started but once your audience has been acquired, 90% of your income is likely to be passive.
Starting a YouTube channel can be a daunting task, learning how to create videos, edit clips, add transitions, and market your videos but there are many different resources available online to help you get started. Dedicate a few hours to learning and you’ll be in good shape to start making money on YouTube.
But how do YouTube channels make money?
There are a few different ways. The main method of monetization is through advertisements during your videos. YouTube requires certain metrics (subscribers and watch times) before they will display ads on your videos so you’ll need to grow your audience before you can expect to earn money through advertisements.
Another way YouTube channels make money is through affiliate marketing. By promoting items during your video, people are likely to click on any links you may have in the video description and make a purchase. For each purchase, you will earn a small commission.
Many times whenever a YouTube channel is created, several other social media accounts or a blog will accompany it. This offers another way to make passive income.
To start a YouTube channel, you’ll need to purchase a video camera and some basic lighting equipment if you’re looking to produce high-quality videos.
Rent Out Your Car
If there are certain days when you do not need your vehicle, consider renting it out to make money.
Renting out your car is a great passive income idea for college students because it’s likely you can get around campus without it.
The amount of money you can make renting out your car will vary depending on your location and the type of vehicle you’re renting but you can expect to earn around $25 or more per day.
Related: How to Make Money with a Truck
Advertise on Your Car
If you want to make even more money with your car, consider using it to advertise. Companies will pay you to drive your car with advertisements on them.
This can be a great way to make passive income driving around town.
Similar to renting your car, the amount of money you can make will vary depending on your region, and the number of miles driven.
Related: How to Make Money Advertising
Invest in Peer to Peer Lending
Peer to peer lending can be an easy form of passive income to generate for college students.
Similar to dividend investing, you’ll need to invest money to get started. Your returns are based on the borrower’s creditworthiness and the amount of cash they borrow.
There are several different platforms you can get started on all with similar functionality.
When investing in peer to peer lending, you’ll want to ensure that you have the funds available to invest as these investments are not always 100% safe. You can opt to invest in a person with stronger credit to limit risk but your returns will also be lower.
Invest in a REIT
If you want to invest in real estate but you don’t have a large sum of cash, a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) can be a great option.
Investing in a REIT allows you to invest in real estate without much capital. You can get started for less than $50.
You can think of a REIT as a stock of a company that owns many different investment properties.
Make Passive Income with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is an awesome way to build your passive income portfolio as a college student.
What is affiliate marketing?
In simplest terms, affiliate marketing is the process of making money by facilitating transactions between customers and a company. For example, if you were to click on an affiliate link for Amazon, Amazon will pay you a small commission for facilitating the transaction.
How Can You Make Passive Income with Affiliate Marketing?
There are multiple methods to make money with affiliate marketing. Promoting affiliate links is one of the primary methods.
Where can you promote affiliate links?
Some companies may have restrictions on where you can promote their links but for most you can promote your links on a website or blog, social media platforms, or an email list.
Start an E-commerce Business
Starting an e-commerce business is a perfect passive income idea for college students because it can be so simple to get started.
You can choose to sell products online through a website or utilize e-commerce platforms like Amazon or eBay to grow your business. Your options are endless when it comes to starting an e-commerce business. There are hundreds of thousands of products you can sell.
Consider Walking Dogs During Free Time
If you’re in college, walking dogs can be a great way to make money during your free time. While you may not see walking dogs as completely passive if you have a dog of your own it could be!
There are several dog walking apps like Rover that you can register and start walking dogs today.
How much money can you make walking dogs?
It depends on your region and the length of your walk. It’s common to earn anywhere from $20 to $35 for each walk.
Want to get paid to sit on a couch?
House-sitting can be just that! People are willing to pay for someone to occupy their home while they are away in order to keep the home safe and secure. It will typically require you to stay at the home overnight but it’s a great way to get paid doing nothing.
This is perfect for college students because you can bring your books and computer and complete your coursework while getting paid.
Rent Out a Bicycle
For college students, getting around campus with a bike is common. You can make passive income by renting out your bike for other students to use.
You can list your bike for rent on local Facebook groups or other classifieds. This can be an easy way to make money doing nothing. Even if it’s just $10 per day, this money can add up quickly.
Sell Stock Photography to Make Passive Income
Stock photography can be a lucrative way for college students to earn passive income. To sweeten the deal, all you need to get started is a digital camera and some basic photo editing software.
The amount of money you can make is endless. For each photo you sell, you can expect to earn anywhere from $2 to over $5.
You’ll want to spend some time learning the ins and outs of photography but once you’ve mastered the basics your earnings can rise exponentially.
There are several types of photography that can suit your style. From portraits to landscape photography, there’s sure to be a style you enjoy.
Open a Credit Card that Earns Cash Instantly
Many credit cards will offer a reward for new customers when they spend a select amount within a certain time period. It’s common to score anywhere from $100 to over $300 just by completing your normal purchases with your new credit card.
This is one of my favorite ways to earn money doing nothing at all and is completely passive. While you’ll want to limit the number of times you do this, you can opt to open a new card every few years to maximize your earnings without too much damage to your credit.
Earn Credit Card Rewards
Just as you can earn money by opening a new credit card, you can also earn passive income whenever you spend money using your credit card.
It’s common for credit card issuers to reward you with anywhere from 1% to 5% back in rewards on your purchases. This can amount to a few hundred dollars per year in passive income.
Create an eBook
There’s a good chance you’ve visited a website before that promotes an eBook that the owner has created.
This can be a great passive income idea for any college student because it requires a little knowledge and some time to create.
Once your eBook is created, you can sell it and make money forever.
Where can you sell your eBook?
The good thing when it comes to creating and selling a digital product is that you have several methods to acquire customers. Perhaps you have a website or blog to promote your book. Another option would be using a social media account. If none of those suit you, you might be capable of running direct advertising campaigns to boost your sales. Either way, you have several options to help you make sales and boost your passive income portfolio.
Sell Your School Notes
Whenever attending college, you’ll likely take notes for your classes. These notes can be of great value to those who miss a class or are incoming students looking to get ahead. Because you’ve already taken the notes, it can be simple to sell them to friends who might be in need.
Take Surveys During Free Time
If you’ve got some downtime throughout the day, you might consider taking a few online surveys to make money. While this isn’t technically “passive” income, if you’re not doing anything else, some might consider it to be.
There are many online survey sites to make money. Some of my favorites include InboxDollars, Swagbucks, or SurveyJunkie.
To sweeten the deal, many of these sites will offer a signup bonus of anywhere from $5 to $30 just for registering.
👉 Survey Junkie - Make $50 or more for surveys you complete!
👉 Swagbucks - Get a $5 bonus instantly!
👉 RewardSurvey - Get a $30 reward when completing your profile!
👉 InboxDollars - Get a $5 bonus when you register today!
Sell Photoshop Lightroom Presets
If you know the basics of Photoshop, consider selling Lightroom Presets to those looking to enhance their photos. There are thousands of potential filters you can create, making it easy to create your own unique filter that customers want.
You can charge anywhere from $5 to over $20 per preset or you can sell a package of multiple for much more.
Sell Lightroom presets is a great way to make passive income because once your filters are created you can sell them in perpetuity.
Start a Vending Machine Business
Starting a vending machine business may not be the sexiest investment, but it can be worthwhile.
By purchasing a vending machine and stocking it with beverages or snacks you can make money without having to do much work. You’ll need to visit your machine and restock about once every one or two weeks to ensure the inventory is not low but other than that, your machine will generate passive income.
It will typically cost a few thousand dollars to get started but this is a relatively low cost considering how much money you can make.
Create a Course to Make Passive Income
Similar to creating an eBook, you can also consider creating a digital course to sell online.
Selling online courses is a great way to make passive income but you’ll need to be knowledgeable in a certain area and have the time to create the course.
Once your course is created, you can sell it online through a website or on social media.
Another way to increase your course sales is by partnering with other creators to promote your product as an affiliate. You won’t make as much money per sale, but your sales could increase exponentially.
Create and Sell an App
For those college students in the computer science field, creating an app can be one of the most lucrative passive income ideas for you to make money.
You’ll need to dedicate the time to build the app but they can make millions of dollars once created. For example, Clash of Clans, a popular strategy game has made over $7,000,0000.
Once you decide on an app that you want to build, you’ll also want to consider how you will make money with it. Will you make consumers pay for the app? Will you display ads in your app? Will you introduce a paywall in the app for access to certain features? These are all questions you’ll want to examine to help ensure your app will be profitable and help you to grow your passive income streams.
Download Apps on Your Phone
For many college students, using their phone is a way of life. Why not get paid to use it?
There are several apps that will pay you for normal use of your phone. However, you will give up some control of your privacy in doing so but it might be worth your time.
For example, the Neilson Digital app will run in the background and you’ll automatically be entered to win rewards. This is the perfect passive income idea for many college students.
Create an Affiliate Website
If you’ve ever Googled something like “best pleated pants for men”, you’ve probably come across one or two affiliate websites. These websites focus on extremely specific Google searches in hopes of ranking for these terms and making money off of them.
These niche affiliate websites will then promote their affiliate links within the post and earn a commission anytime someone clicks through their links and makes a purchase.
You might think these websites only make a few bucks a month, but that’s not true. Some affiliate websites make $10,000+ per month. By finding a good niche with high-value terms you can make more money and build your passive income portfolio.
Sell Stock Video
Just as stock photography has become essential for many online businesses, stock video has done the same. As businesses search for more interactive and memorable experiences for their visitors, stock video can do just that.
So, what do you need to get started? Just a video camera and some basic video editing software that likely comes free with your school.
Stock video sells for much more than stock photos because it can be more difficult to master. Therefore if you can create attractive stock videos, you can make much more money. Selling stock video is a perfect passive income idea for any college student.
Use Cashback Websites
Using cashback websites isn’t technically passive income but rather passive saving. By using these websites, you can save anywhere from 1% to over 15% on your purchases. If you use a credit card you’ll also earn credit card rewards boosting your savings.
Other Income Ideas for College Students
Below I’ve put together some alternative ways to make money as a college student that aren’t necessarily passive but can be very worthwhile.
Tutor Other Students to Make Money in College
There is a high demand for tutors in college as students look to better understand their fields. Depending on the field of tutoring you work in, you can make anywhere from $20 to over $40 per hour of tutoring.
Another great option for college students to make money is flipping. Finding items online and selling them for a profit is an excellent way to make money while in college. All it requires is a little cash and some time to start making money.
Related: Guide to Flipping Furniture
Becoming a Ride Share Driver
Driving for apps like Uber or Lyft can be an excellent way for college students to make some extra money in their free time. While the pay isn’t remarkable, it is comparable if not better than many entry-level jobs. If you work nights and weekends you can make even more money.
Work as a Virtual Assistant
Becoming a virtual assistant can be an awesome job for most students because it only requires a computer and internet connection (which most college students will have).
The amount of money you can make varies depending on your skill set but you can expect to earn anywhere from $10 to $20 per hour of work.
Working as a virtual assistant also comes with a somewhat flexible schedule, much needed for students. Because the work will often be straightforward and not extremely time-sensitive, it can be done throughout the day during your free time.
Final Thoughts on the Best Passive Income Ideas for College Students
Building passive income in college is a great idea to set yourself up for a solid financial future and there are many different methods to get started.
Whether you choose to start a blog or invest in dividend stocks, it’s hard to go wrong with starting a passive income stream.
To get started, you’ll need one of two things: time or money. You can also expedite your returns by combining both time and money to enhance your income streams.
What are your favorite passive income ideas? Comment below!