41 Passive Income ideas for Students

Not investment or financial advice. This is not an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold.  The staff of this site may own the asset/s mentioned on this page. Investing is risky and you may lose all your capital. Do your own research. See full disclaimer.

We receive no direct payments from the mentioned companies. Some links on this page are affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, we may receive commissions when you use them. However, we try our best to keep our articles fair and balanced.


Student life is hard if you do not have money. All too often, students struggle to pay tuition, rent, books and living costs.  Working extra jobs means less time for study which, in turn, means lower grades that can affect your entire life.

There are many ways to earn extra money that does not require a great deal of time and are still legal!

We are talking about passive income.  Passive income means you establish something that continues to earn money even when you are not actively working on it. Learn more: What is passive income?

Before you jump into this venture consider your skills and abilities, how much time you can invest, and what is suitable for your market.

Students tend to have little spare capital and thus cannot go for the typical passive income options such as investments in REITs or dividend stocks or similar investments which do not require active involvement.

On the other hand, students are very well positioned to exploit opportunities related to students. To create passive income, one needs to find a pain point of the target market then find a way how to automate the solution and deliver it many times over. The main problems students face are

  • Studying
  • Money
  • Food and Energy
  • Relationships

Most of these ideas require no financial upfront investment.

Monetize Your Brain

Make money from your new knowledge.


1. Class Notes

You are spending all this time studying so why not earn passive income at the same time?  Sell the class notes you would be making anyway. Check that it’s allowed by the school’s policies first but you might find that some schools have a system set up for this or you can go to sites such as StudySoup which will sell them for you.

2. Tutoring / Tuition

Look on sites such as Fiverr, Craigslist or Upwork for people wanting tuition online or, alternatively, teach your fellow students.  This may not be exactly passive income but it is using something you have already learned to earn money

3. Publish

Write an ebook and publish it.  It could be fiction, non-fiction or academic, then self-publish on sites like Amazon and earn passive income and market it on Facebook.

4. Online courses

People are always looking for structured information on things they want to learn. The internet is great but many websites offer unstructured information. Creating an eCourse is a great way to create an info product once and then sell it many times over.

5. Be a Resident Advisor

Once you have passed your freshman year at college, you can offer your services as a resident advisor.  By this, you live free of charge in student accommodation and look after any issues they might have. Although there is some daily work involved, accommodation is often one of the highest bills you will have to pay so you can invest this saved money somewhere that earns you passive income.

Passive income opportunities for students online.

6. Stock Photography or Images

If you are good with a camera or can do interesting computer-aided designs, you can upload your work and sell it.  There is huge competition on these sites so work must meet minimum standards and appeal to clients. Learn more: How to make a passive income from photography.

7. Social Media

Establish yourself as a social media star on Instagram, Facebook, Blog and Vlog (YouTube). There are many complex ways of increasing your fan base but the key is interesting stories that are posted regularly and that you are genuinely passionate about the subject.

Once you have a good following, start approaching businesses that are relevant to your profile and form relationships with them such as affiliation or becoming a brand ambassador.  You can earn money by followers clicking on links in your site, by buying the products you discuss, showing sponsored videos, attending brand launches etc. The possibilities are endless.

Quite simply, the more followers you have, the more money you will make.

Learn more: Make money from YouTube.

8. Advertise Yourself / Become an Influencer

Some companies are always looking to promote themselves. Check out any offers to brand your car, bike or even an outside wall of your home.  You should make sure you do not have to pay for the branding yourself but this is a good way to earn small amounts on a regular basis.

Design work

9. T-Shirts

Are you a clever designer?  If you can come up with clever sayings or interesting designs, why not sell t-shirts?  You can either do random designs or create a school or town related collection. What’s more, you don’t have to print and hold stock yourself as there are sites such as Zazzle, Cafepress or Teespring which will do all that for you.  Obviously, they take their cut but all you will have to do is market your shirts.

10. Crafts

Alternatively, if you are crafty, you can sell your handmade items like greetings cards, needlework etc. on sites such as Etsy.  Although there is some work involved, if you enjoy it and would do it anyway, you can earn money at the same time as doing a hobby you love. Learn more: How to sell art online.

11. Sell 3D Models

A background in art, mathematics and computing are an excellent launch pad for getting involved in the 3-D industry. It takes time to become productive in this space, so being motivated is very important.

There are different ways to make passive income from the 3-D space.

  • 3D printing
  • 3D graphics and models

There are two ways to make passive income from 3D printing you can either sell the products you design on sites like Etsy or you can sell the 3D blueprints on sites like Creative Market. One great way to start in this space is to enter 3D contests which have a 3D printer as the prize.

3D Graphics and models are used by Film and Animation Studios and Game creators. These models are sold on TurboSquid and each model can be sold many times over without any active involvement from your side. The sellers are looking for a complete production including high poly terrain assets and maps including (ao, refl and gloss).  Studios will have a policy on pricing, generally, an editor does not need approval for models $50 and below, which creates less friction for a sale.

In order to find a profitable niche, it is interesting to research what 3D production companies such as FrameStore, The Mill are advertising.

12. Fiverr and Upwork

These are sites where you can earn passive income after some work at the beginning.  What you need to do is build up a database of clients so you can charge more than the original entry-level fee.

Once you have a good reputation, you can outsource each job.  So, once you have reached a place where you can charge US$ 50 for a 1,000-word article, you can outsource it paying US$20, edit it so it meets your client’s standards and then pocket the US$30 difference for very little work.

13. Start an Online Shop

The key here is to find a product that you can buy low and sell high.  Maybe you have a source of designer cat collars or something totally unique.  Set up an online store on sites such as Shopify and market your products everywhere.  You will have initial outlay and need some storage space but the right product can earn a good income.

Another source of products for your online shop might be second-hand items which you source from car boot sales, flea markets or garage sales.  This will require some research so you know what to look for but can be profitable if you are diligent. Items such as old mobiles, computer games, hat pins, children’s equipment etc can all suit a niche market.

Learn more: How to buy a website.

14. Create an App or an App-Game

Apps like Candy Crush and Angry Birds have made their creators millions of dollars.  It is estimated Candy Crush earns US$850,000 a day. This might be a high target but if you have an idea there is little to lose by creating an app, getting some favourable reviews and earning a dollar or two.  We have all had moments of inspiration where we think “wouldn’t it be a good idea if….?” so use those inspirations to create an app that will sell.

15. Sell Online Templates and Packs

Accounting Templates

Are a bit of an Excel whizz?  Turn that into money by creating templates for sale online.  You can do business plan formats, Profit and Loss, balance sheets, cash flows, etc.

How-To Manuals

If you are studying subjects such as Human Resources, Interior Design or IT, you can write your own How-To manuals and sell them online.

16. Domain Names

Domain names can have a huge value so think about what events, situations, political issues might be coming and buy the “.com”” version.  A few dollars now could be worth thousands in the future.

Using cryptocurrencies to create a passive income

The cryptocurrency space has a host of opportunities that generate a continuous stream of value. The catch with these projects is that the income will be denominated in a cryptocurrency rather than your local one. There are many risks when operating in this space, so make sure that you learn about security, privacy, and your local regulations relating to crypto. On the other han,d this Blockchains development is at the very cutting edge of FinTech and computer science. Having practical knowledge will come in handy if you take up a career in this space.

Creating a passive income stream from rentals

21. Student Accommodation

Instead of renting one room for your college or university years, why not rent an entire house and then sub-rent the rooms to your fellow students? This could be a great way of getting free lodging and learning first hand what property management is all about.

22. Lodgers

If you have convinced your parents to sell all the unused stuff in that storage room, now you have an empty room which you can rent out, you can earn money by taking in a lodger.  Although you might have a little maintenance and an increase in utility bills, this will give you a regular income with very little extra cost.

23. Holiday Rentals

When you are on holiday, you can rent your home (or your room in your parent’s house)  on sites like Airbnb.  This is especially important if you are renting your home so would be paying rent on an unoccupied home anyway. Learn more: AirBnB in 4 easy steps

24. Garage Space

If you or someone you know have unused garage space, you can rent it to neighbours or local businesses that do not have enough space of their own.  Look into local events where parking space might be limited and advertise there as well. There are even sites that can help you such as JustPark.

25. Rent

There are some items that people might need but don’t want to buy so why not try renting your belongings. Relatives, parents, clubs, your school, your local church and even local government offices could have equipment that they rarely use. You can pitch them an offer to manage the rentals from A to Z and then take a cut from the rental income. If you can organize a group of your student friends and pitch it as a “student business” you have higher chances of getting the deal.

26. Equipment

Do you have a bike you rarely use or do your parents, relatives or neighbours have a lawnmower that only sees the light of day once a month?  You can post signs on notice boards around town offering items for rent. Other rentable items might be trailers, camping gear, chainsaws, power tools, musical instruments, even your car. Look around your home and see what something else might want to borrow on a short term basis and then advertise it.

27. Clothes and Accessories

Perhaps more applicable to female students but also to men, you can rent your evening dresses, handbags and shoes or even a tuxedo on sites such as RentNotBuy. If you do not have any that are worth renting, ask your aunt, your classy neighbour and even your grandma might have some retro stuff that is back in fashion!

Automated selling and recurring stock



28. Automated Selling Machines on Campus

Is there an area where students or teachers gather which could be a good location for an automated selling machine?  If so, you will need to ask for permission to your school but, if granted, you could sell snacks, canned beverages, coffee, chocolate, toiletries and condoms (in the bathrooms), whatever you think would sell.  Then you need to keep the machines stocked and collect the cash.

29. Sell Yourself

You can earn money from selling your sperm as well as your blood plasma.  Look at local fertility clinics for sperm selling or go to DonatingPlasma.org to see if you are suitable for selling plasma. Worries about people with the wrong reasons for selling blood mean that money rarely changes hands for blood donations.  But plasma is used for experimental or pharmaceutical projects, so is often sold.

You can even sell your hair.  Different terms and conditions apply but this has to be the ultimate form of passive income.  Wait for your hair to grow, cut it and send it to one of the hair buying sites such as BuyandSellHair.com.

30. Art

If you are a student studying the arts, you have the skills to create your own artistic content. For this enterprise to generate the passive income you need to sell copies of your works, rather than sell the original. Reprints of one canvas or photo or reproductions of one sculpture will generate revenue for you each time they are sold. Learn more: Selling art online

31. Sell Your Unwanted Stuff

Look at your belongings and choose what you no longer need or have stopped using. Your parents might have a number of items in their attic that they have been trying to get rid off for a while.  Rather than storing or transporting it, why not sell on sites like Craigslist or Ebay and make a few dollars?   You might be surprised what people will buy, old course books, clothes, old electronics and so on.

32. Sell Your Junk Mail

Some companies will actually pay for your junk mail on SBKCenter where you simply send them your junk mail related to certain businesses such as insurance, medical, banking etc.   You will be compensated in the form of gift cards which, if you don’t want them, you can sell. Your parents and neighbours might happily give you all their junk mail.

33. Sell your phone and desktop usage

There are several companies whose business model is learning about you and your online habits. Then they use this information to market products and monitor market trends. Social media companies, provide you free service in exchange for this data but they do not pay you back. Nielsen has a desktop and mobile app which provides rewards in exchange for your usage data.

34. Recycle

Recycling cans and bottles can earn you a few dollars for a large bag. You can ask friends for theirs too or simply wait till you have enough to cash in.

Create a community then monetize it.


35. Start a Club at your school or university

Choose a subject or activity that you know a lot about and that you feel would make a fun and interesting group and start a club.  This could be related to careers, hobbies, social, dating etc. And then charge a subscription fee to join. You might also be able to get sponsorship or special deals when meeting.  Get interesting speakers, good food and drink and charge the members to attend.

36. Start an online community

Students like to congregate according to their interests and today the internet makes it easier than ever. As a community creator and influencer, your job will be to bring forth content, articles, podcast, videos, ideas and interviews with personalities in the space. All the content would need to be focused on a specific niche. If you provide enough value to a community it will grow at an exponential rate, and your services will be valued. You can monetize your community through donations using Patreon or Patreos

37. Turn Student Debt into a source of passive income.


Debt is bad only when it is unproductive. Student loans if used intelligently can be a good investment.

Students have two options they can either pay their loans early or they can pay the minimum amount needed. This decision is a personal one and depends on your aptitude, skills and motivations.

Instead of paying a student loan back early, there is the option to buy a low-risk passive income asset. Such as an apartment or single family home with high rental potential in a good neighbourhood.

For example. A single family home priced at $110,000k can be bought with as little as $37,000 deposit. The rent would be around $480 a month and the loan payment around $464 a month.

This sounds easy, but such deals are in high demand and you really need to make good research before jumping in. You need to double check your ability to take take a buy to let mortgage. With time the rent should go up and if you have a fixed interest loan your mortgage payment stays the same.

If all goes well your cash flow starts going up, and this cash flow could be diverted to paying off your student loans.

Other ideas

38. Check Your Income Tax

If you have had holiday work or part-time jobs, you might be entitled to a refund on your income tax.

39. Competitions

Spend an hour a week entering every competition you can find whether you want the item or not.  You can always sell it if you don’t.

40. Become a Notary Public

A short course and a little investment and you can be a notary public.  This means you can be a legal witness, sign for loans etc. all of which pay an hourly salary.  Once qualified, you simply enter your name in numerous websites and wait for the calls.

41. Film Sets

Get yourself listed on websites such as Set Scouter and wait to see if you get chosen.  It will be very disruptive if you are chosen but the income makes the inconvenience well worth it.


Students can build passive income assets, these assets can generate a trickle of regular income. This income can be reinvested to harness the power of compound interest. Students who try their hand at entrepreneurship are getting first-hand experience on managing a business and this can give them an edge over other students. A portfolio of such assets will give you financial freedom.

Employers look at such actions as proactive and resourceful, attributes which are very hand in the real world.

Students have many temptations such as parties, sports, hanging out with friend and responsibilities of studying, passing exams. Wealth and actual business experience is an often ignored aspect of student life. Installing the right habits, cutting back on expenses, putting that money aside and investing it in a profitable venture, one which requires work upfront but eventually can work with little input is an ideal for busy students. Having an end goal and keeping the pros and cons of automated investing systems in mind is a great source of motivation. Failing at your financial independence will affect you in all your other areas of your life.

Juggling all these aspects of these students life is difficult and some might not find the idea of sacrificing fund for work a good idea. However, if you launch a project with some friends and these turn out to be successful they can be much more satisfying than a Saturday night out.

If your objective is to have a fulfilling life and not work in the 9 to 5 rat race, using your student years to sharpen your entrepreneur within will give you a great advantage. With a portfolio of passive assets, you can achieve both fatFIRE and leanFire

Learn more:

Not investment or financial advice. This is not an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold.  The staff of this site may own the asset/s mentioned on this page. Investing is risky and you may lose all your capital. Do your own research. See full disclaimer.

We receive no direct payments from the mentioned companies. Some links on this page are affiliate links, at no extra cost to you, we may receive commissions when you use them. However, we try our best to keep our articles fair and balanced.


Author: Jim Reynolds
Jim Reynolds. Is passionate about finance, passive income and cryptocurrencies. He writes about his passions on NodesOfValue.com. He has worked in the tech and financial industry for a few decades. He holds a masters in business admin and a bachelors in IT. All his writings are not investment advice.

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