Are you a student trying to figure out how to boost your income but don't have much time to do it? Then our list of passive income ideas for students is what you've been searching for! Beyond tuition, housing, and books/supplies, students incur many expenses that require a source of income.
Without a job, loans, or assistance from family, it can be difficult to stay afloat on a student’s budget, especially if you don't want to max out your credit card. It is also difficult to devote time and energy to a full or part-time job while managing a course load.
Passive income is a great way for students to manage their time and make money to support themselves. So, let's dive into what passive income is and what the best passive income ideas for students are!
What is passive income?
Passive income is income from a source that doesn’t require you to be an employee and, after a certain point, requires little to no continuous effort.
There could be some upfront work involved, but it is an opportunity to bring in income without trading in 8 hours of your day at a traditional job.
For example, rental properties are a type of passive income because they may require initial work and set-up but you continuously earn income from them afterward.
And unlike active income or a full-time job, creating passive income streams can bulk your bank account without taking up a ton of your time!
Why passive income for students is a good idea
Passive income is great for students because it frees up time to manage all of the other responsibilities on your plate and allows you to enjoy student life. It also helps cover expenses and prevents taking on more debt. While it will eventually require less effort, most passive income ideas for students require time or money upfront.
Once the ball is rolling, you can step back a bit and watch the earnings start to flow in. When one income stream brings in money consistently and you can spend less time on it, you can create another stream to continue to grow your income.
These passive income ideas for students provide an opportunity to allow your initial investment to cover your living expenses while you focus on making the best of your time as a student.
Passive income for students: 15 ideas
So, are you ready to start bringing in more cash and boost your income? Here are our favorite passive income ideas for students!
1. Affiliate marketing
If you have a platform and have built a following, you can promote a company’s products and receive income from each sale. When you promote the product(s) to your following and someone purchases using your unique link, you get paid a commission.
If you have a nice-sized following on social media, a blog, YouTube channel, podcast, etc., affiliate marketing can be one of the best passive income sources for students.
2. Rent out your car
Many students can get around campus easily without a car and don’t necessarily need to drive every day. If you have a car on campus that you don't use daily, you can bring in passive income by renting it out.
Listing your car to be rented is simple. It usually just involves inputting some information about your vehicle and uploading pictures. You can join sites such as Turo and Getaround to list your car rental for free.
3. Use your car to advertise
There may be several reasons why you aren’t able to or don’t feel comfortable renting out your car. In that instance, you can use your car to advertise.
Your car will be wrapped in, or display decals of, a company’s advertisement. The company essentially pays you to be a mobile billboard for them.
The pay will depend on your location and the number of miles driven. So if you do drive a lot, this may be a better option than renting your car. It’s an easy, low-risk way to make money during your normal commute, which is why it's one of the top passive income sources for students.
4. Rent your other belongings
Many people are looking to rent items and equipment short-term for projects or events. These could be things such as cameras and camera equipment, music equipment, bikes, tools, and other electronics and household items. You may own items and equipment that could be useful to others.
You can make money by renting them out. It's one of the simpler passive income ideas for students that have valuable equipment that isn’t used daily.
You can make money from things that you already own! List your stuff on sites such as fatllama.com.
And if you don't have much stuff you want to rent out but you have space, consider renting storage space to people that need it. They pay you in exchange for you storing their stuff, which works great if you have an attic, an extra room, or even just a lot of closet space.
5. Sell stock photos and videos
Selling photos is one of the easiest ways to earn passive income for students. Businesses and brands need images and videos for their websites, social media content, and other marketing materials.
They often turn to stock photo sites to obtain this imagery. If you're a good photographer who can take nice pictures and shoot nice videos, then you can sell them on stock photography websites.
You don’t have to be a professional to do so! All you need is some basic camera and editing skills.
Sign up to be a contributor for sites such as Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. Submit photos and/or videos and earn a commission when your images or videos are purchased.
6. Sell merchandise
Use your ideas and creativity to create and sell t-shirts, mugs, hats, phone cases, posters, or other types of merchandise. Instead of buying and storing your inventory, you can upload your designs to a print-on-demand site and let them handle all of the logistics.
After you create and upload your designs, all you have to do is promote your items. When items are purchased, the print-on-demand company takes care of the printing and shipping of the product.
They’ll even handle returns, making this a no-hassle and low-risk way to make passive income as a student. Check out sites like printify.com and zazzle.com.
7. Start a blog
Starting a blog will require a small financial investment, time, and consistency upfront. However once the ball is rolling, a blog has the potential to bring in income for years to come.
Once there’s an audience, there are many ways that a blog can provide passive income for students. You can use Google Adsense to bring in ad revenue or promote products and/or services to bring in affiliate income.
You could even sell your own products or services, such as an online course, to your audience down the line. Setting up your blog and creating good content will take time and consistency, but once you’ve grown your audience most of the income will be passive.
8. Start a vlog
Vlogging can be a great passive income source for students. With some basic camera and editing skills, you can start by just turning on your camera (or using your phone!) to film your everyday life.
Vlogs are very popular on YouTube. You earn income once your audience and viewership reach a certain level.
Beyond making money from ads, you can also partner with brands for affiliate marketing and brand sponsorships. It will take some time and effort to grow your viewership, but similar to blogging, it will be easier to make money after you build your audience.
9. Rent textbooks
Once you are done with your textbooks, rent them to someone who needs them for the next semester. Instead of selling them for much less than you paid, rent your textbooks for several semesters to bring in more income.
Your fellow students will be looking for a less expensive option than purchasing books, and you will have a source of passive income. A win-win for both parties!
10. Use cashback or shopping rewards apps
There are many things that you have to purchase to take care of yourself and provide for your needs and wants. Why not earn some money while doing it? With cashback and rewards apps, you can get paid or receive rewards for your purchases.
To get credit, you just shop at your favorite stores through the app or upload a photo of your receipt(s). Check out apps such as Ibotta, Rakuten, and Dosh to earn cashback or rewards for your purchases. Cashback apps are excellent passive income sources for students.
11. Invest with a Robo investor
Robo investors take the guesswork out of building an investment portfolio. With a series of questions and preferences, the Robo investor makes suggestions for your portfolio and helps you grow your assets.
Several Robo investor apps have fairly low minimums, so this is a good passive income source for students who may not have a lot of money to invest.
It is also a good way for those who aren’t familiar with investing to get started. While there are many apps to choose from, Acorns rounds your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the change. They also make it simple by managing your portfolio for you.
There are many different types of investing, including real estate investments, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and mutual funds. When you invest, in addition to earning interest, you can also make money from stock dividends depending on what you invest in.
And if you aren't quite ready to invest, you can at the very least open a high yield savings account, so you make a bit of interest from your money. Or start small with bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs).
12. Try peer to peer lending
Peer-to-peer lending is risky but if done right can be great passive income for students. You can manage your risk by lending to borrowers with strong credit, but always be aware that there’s a risk that some borrowers won’t pay their loans back. While this doesn’t require much of a time commitment, it of course requires a financial investment.
Do your research and never put money into peer-to-peer lending if you aren’t prepared to take on some risk.
The returns that you receive will be based on the amount borrowed and the creditworthiness of the borrower. You will receive income by earning interest on the money that you lend.
13. Create and sell an ebook
Selling eBooks can be one of the best passive income sources for students. So, why not write an eBook or guide about something that you’re knowledgeable about and can teach others?
If you have some type of skill or knowledge that is in demand and valuable to others, you can create and sell it as a digital product.
Once your eBook or guide is ready, you can sell it to your audience on social media. You can promote and sell it using your website and/or email list. You can also list your eBook on Amazon to reach a wider audience and increase your sales and income.
Housesitting is another great, and very simple, way to make passive income as a student. Although this is considered semi-passive it's still an excellent way to bring in cash.
It usually consists of taking care of a client’s home while they are away for a while on vacation or a work trip. Often you will need to stay overnight, make sure the house is safe, possibly do some light housekeeping, and take care of their pets.
It's a great opportunity for students because you will be able to complete your schoolwork while housesitting.
While you will be spending time away from your own home and taking time to complete your duties, it doesn’t involve a huge time commitment.
You will likely have plenty of time to work on any other work or projects while staying in your client’s home and getting paid to do so. If you need to know where to start, this list of best housesitting sites will help.
15. Sell your notes
Your notes could be beneficial to your classmates or others taking the same courses. You’re already taking notes for your own use, so selling them to others is a nice, painless source of passive income. Your notes can provide value to others, and they will be willing to pay for your help.
Beyond selling your notes on your own to your classmates, you can also sign up for a site like Study Soup. Study Soup provides the opportunity to become an elite notetaker and make up to $800 per course by selling your notes and study materials.
16. Rent out a room in your home
You may have a spare room in your apartment or house. If so, consider a roommate.
It can help you to make rental income each month from a tenant. Which is great passive income for students that are extremely busy. Especially if you need to make money for rent or mortgage payments!
You can also consider Airbnb if you have the room. Or if you don't mind renting out your whole house for a few days at a time.
Maybe you love real estate but aren't able to rent out your space. In this case, you could start investing in a real estate investment trust (REIT), and make money as they pay dividends.
17. Become a YouTube creator
There are lots of ways to earn with YouTube as part of your passive income strategy. You can stream video games if that's something you already like to do. It won't feel like work but you can make money.
Another idea is to make YouTube videos with music playlists. If you have the skills, this is one of the best side hustles! You can even do something like this long-term after you finish college, and continue to earn an income.
18. Make your own app
If you know a lot about technology and you have a great idea, creating an app is one way to make passive income for students.
You can bring in income from advertisers and in-app purchases. While it is an investment of time, it has the potential to bring in cash.
19. Start your own vending machine business
You may have some money saved to invest and want to improve your personal cash flow. If so, you can purchase a vending machine and make money passively.
You'll need to restock the machine, however. So there's a time investment as well as a monetary one, but not too much.
Who knows? Maybe you can even put your vending machine on your college campus. You'll save yourself even more time while making extra cash!
Try these passive income ideas for students!
When it comes to making passive income as a student, get creative with the resources that you already have. Whether it’s a skill, items that you own, or your audience, you can leverage what you already have to create passive income streams.
Unlike working a traditional full or part-time job, passive income is not limited by the number of hours that you work. Therefore, there is no limit to the amount of income that you can make.
Building at least one stream of passive income will put you in a great situation to make money while not sacrificing too much of the time that you need to focus on being a student. There is some work involved, but you won’t spend a large portion of your day completing it.
These passive income ideas for students allow you to make money consistently without doing a lot of work.
Some of your income streams will eventually get to a point where they will require less effort and will continue to pay you based on the time, consistency, or money that you invested upfront.
So, take some time to explore and build out some of these passive income streams. Look beyond the traditional, finite sources of income and invest in something that has the potential to pay you for years to come.
Also, be sure that you're creating a budget that works for you as a student, and continue to find ways to earn more money.