How can I earn money for college by working from home?

A student sits at a desk while working a summer job from home.

Your go-to job might not be possible this year, but you may still be able to earn money for college by using a little creative thinking.

Things happen and your dependable summer job or confirmed internship may fall through for whatever reason — and often at the last minute. But don’t believe that all is lost. You can still gain experience and build your skill set, it may just need to be done in unanticipated ways.

Here are three alternatives to explore to make the most of your summer:

Explore online work

You could earn money by working online from home. Virtual jobs are a great way to make money from almost anywhere. Think about ways you could leverage your interests, skills, or hobbies into moneymaking opportunities.

Possible online jobs include managing social media for local businesses or nonprofits, proofreading, or taking online surveys. Some companies also use virtual assistants to outsource tasks that don’t have to be done in-house. Busy individuals might even need assistance with responding to emails, booking appointments, and other tasks.

If you have specific specialized skills, such as web development, graphic design, photography, or foreign language fluency, look for opportunities to use them, including for nonprofits and volunteer organizations, even just as a way to further build your skills. Or, if you excel in a subject, consider offering your services as an online tutor.

And don’t forget to look online to see what your college’s career services center might offer for remote work study or other opportunities.

Seek remote internships

If your internship was already confirmed but office changes put it on pause, find out if you can now do it remotely. Full-time employees are working from home, so you might be able to as well. But if that’s not an option, it might be time to look for an internship that can be done remotely.

Such internships are more common for internet-friendly jobs such as writing, designing, marketing, and tech.

If there’s not a remote option that involves your major, turn to department leaders at your school and ask if any professors need research assistance.

If a remote internship doesn’t pan out, this could be a good time to devote more volunteer hours to a cause you’re passionate about. As a remote volunteer, you could write grants, fundraise, or create a social media campaign for animal foster and rescue organizations or programs assisting the elderly or those with disabilities—all of which are experiences that can improve your future job prospects.

Invest time in applying for scholarships

More time at home could provide an opportunity to expand your scholarship search. You might not see immediate rewards for your many hours of locating and completing applications, so think of it as an investment.

Any scholarships and grants you can get could lower your student debt. For example, say you had $20,000 in student loans at 6% interest. Your monthly payment over 120 months would be around $222. However, if you had a $1,000 scholarship each year for four years, that monthly payment after graduation drops to $177 per month. That’s a savings of about $6,000 over the life of the loan.

Not only that, but scholarship applications can be great practice for job applications after college. The cover letters, personal statements, and references requested for many scholarship applications are also required when submitting job applications.

You’d also be improving your writing skills. If writing essays isn’t a strength now, the more you do it, the better you’ll become. The first few may be frustrating, but seek help from teachers, mentors, or family members.

There are many scholarship resources available, including Scholarship Resource Center. Money for college is available — you just need to research and apply.

Want to read more about getting internships and being an intern?

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