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College side-hustles that pay in cash and grades

Eye on Money
Eye on Money 04:10

College students who need to make extra cash -- either to pay rent or for the sort of day-to-day extras that neither financial aid nor mom and dad are willing to finance -- listen up. You should know that dozens of online platforms are vying for your labor. And a handful of those platforms urge students to do things that are likely to pay off in both cash and better grades.

Consider StudySoup. The site courts good students to take notes in their classes -- something a good student is likely going to be doing anyway -- and promises to pay between $25 and $50 for each upload. Given the contract students get at the beginning of the semester, it would be reasonable to expect earnings ranging from $300 to $600 per class, per semester. But StudySoup will accept notes from a maximum of three classes per semester.

Another site, NexusNotes, provides a potentially more tempting deal. It doesn't buy your notes outright. Instead, it gives you the ability to sell them to other students through the platform, taking 50 percent of the proceeds as its take. Since notes are typically listed for $35, that means you could make $17.50 for every person who uploads your notes. 

If you're providing notes for a big class that doesn't change a lot from year to year, that could provide pocket money for years to come. If you're a top student and are willing to share academic transcripts with the site, Nexus also puts a special designation on your notes, showing that it has verified your grades, which may help boost your sales.

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Notably, a third site called OneClass purports to offer much the same opportunity, but instead of getting, say, $25 per set of notes, you get 25 "credits." What's a credit worth? Less than a penny apiece, according to the editors at, who give OneClass the site's lowest rating for offering rotten pay and for presenting its pay formula in a misleading way. That said, taking notes that are good enough to sell is still likely to get you better grades.

You should know, however, that you may not need a platform to sell your class notes. Many schools hire students to take notes in class as an accommodation to disabled students. The pay is set by the school's Disability Services department and can vary all over the map. 

University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for instance, recently advertised for student notetakers promising a $200 stipend per class. Boston University promised student notetakers $110 per class. University of Southern California pays "up to $100" per class. The precise pay will depend on the quality of the notes, according to USC's advertisement. 

Will taking notes for a platform pay more than taking notes directly through your college? The only way to know is to check with your school's disability services department and see what it offers.

Not interested in taking notes? Consider taking a part-time job as a tutor. If you're at a college level in any specialty, from language to math, chances are good that you know enough to teach high school and grammar school students. If you're truly a whiz, you can tutor other college students, too. 

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Several sites allow you to offer your services as a tutor either on an hourly basis or by answering questions for a fee. Perhaps the best of these options is offered by a site called Wyzant, which offers pay -- after the site commission -- ranging from $18 to $36 per hour. Chegg Study promises tutors a $20 hourly rate, but the catch is that clients are billed in five-minute increments, so you might get paid for just a few minutes.

Still, Chegg Study offers a better deal than Course Hero, another site looking for tutors. The trouble with Course Hero? Dozens of former workers maintain that the site not only pays rotten wages, it's likely to kick you off the platform right before you're able to cash out, which makes it impossible to collect the pay that you earned previously. 

Another option: Post your tutoring availability on a free local website, such as Nextdoor or CraigsList

If you're funny, you might also want to consider writing for Cracked. It's a comedy-oriented website that loves listicles that present true facts in a sometimes profane but amusing way. Some examples: "5 Dumb Questions with Surprisingly Interesting Answers," and "5 People Whose Corpses Got Desecrated in Crazy Ways." 

Since almost every student has had at least one class where the teacher dives into deep detail on a seemingly arcane person or event, this is a way to turn your boredom into cold, hard cash. Cracked pays $150 per story -- more if you write for it frequently. And to make your story really compelling, you're probably going to learn more deep details about the topic than even your professor knows. 

Originally published

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