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Flexible part-time jobs for students can seriously offset college expenses

I'm Sarah - wife to my amazing husband, John, and mom to two little girls, Cami and Maisie.  I used to work in the finance industry before having my daughters, and now I'm a freelance personal finance writer and blogger.  I love being wi...

10 part-time jobs college students can work to help cut those student loans

College is excruciatingly expensive. So expensive, in fact, that most students nowadays need to take out loans to be able to go.

But while loans to pay for tuition may be essential, taking out extra money for living expenses doesn't have to be. There are plenty of jobs out there for hardworking students that can help pay for rent, food, and the other incidentals needed to make it through the college experience.

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Searching for a job seems daunting (especially if you have no prior work experience), but these jobs are perfect for students. In addition to jobs on campus, there are other positions to consider if you’re in college, from jobs that are a little off-the-wall to the old standbys you shouldn't ignore. They might not pay for tuition in full, but they can sure help offset some costs so loan debt can be kept to a minimum — because we all know how hard it is to pay those suckers off.

Out-of-the-box part-time jobs

1. Birthday party character

Dressing up in costume may sound like a fun way to blow off steam on the weekend, but just think how interesting life would be if you could get paid for it. Kids’ birthday parties are taking off, and parents are looking for high-quality entertainment — often from costumed characters like princesses, fairies and superheroes who will travel on-site to play games with the kids or host a story hour. Professional party princesses reportedly make as much as $50 an hour.

2. Mystery shopper

While mystery shopper may scream, “scam alert,” this is a side gig stay-at-home moms have been doing for years, and it was only a matter of time before college students joined in on the fun. Mystery shoppers pose as customers and report back on a store’s service — with the potential to earn up to $14,000 a year, as confirmed by one successful shopper on Forbes. Though plenty of legitimate mystery shopping opportunities are available, just remember to research each company first before signing up to avoid any potential scams.

3. Grader

You’re already a professional student, so why not monetize what you do best? Yes, you can get paid for grading classroom assignments — potentially taking the load off a teacher or professor — through online universities or as a third party virtual grading assistant. A company like WriteScore may hire telecommuters to grade standardized tests at home for anywhere from $8 to $15 per hour, without prior experience, though a two-year degree may be required.

More: 13 funny graduation cap ideas that deserve an A+

4. Virtual assistant

Speaking of virtual grading assistant, working as a part-time virtual assistant might be your next step. Many larger companies are looking to outsource entry-level administrative assistant positions to remote workers to cut costs and condense hours. Responsibilities may include manning a virtual front desk, performing administrative tasks on a website or even helping to audit and update search engines, depending on the employer. If you’re only available to work part-time, even better — companies seeking virtual support often have short-term or limited job needs.

5. Cruise ship employee

Finally, finally, having the erratic schedule of a college student is paying off. If your summers are free, you might be eligible for seasonal employment working aboard a cruise ship, with the obvious added perk of totally free travel. Available positions can vary widely and may be based on individual skill level, including servers, bartenders, cooks, housekeeping staff, child care workers, performers and photographers. Most cruise websites post their ongoing job listings, with a big push to beef up their crew before the summer cruise season begins.

Next Up: 5 “old standby” part-time jobs

Originally published Feb. 2014. Updated January 2017.

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