A price to pay
College students share their methods of making quick cash as expenses grow

March 7, 2018

A worn down jacket might sell for $15 at a local consignment store. Donating plasma might lend an extra $50. A used pair of underwear can sell online for up to $300 dollars.

Each of these money-making strategies can be utilized by college students in need of quick cash.

There are many different ways to earn money as a college student. While some ways might be more favorable than others, each lends a little — or a lot — of money to help push through the school year.

The calculated tuition for an Idaho resident at the University of Idaho is $21,300. This includes room, board, classes and other daily living expenses, according to UI’s website. Anyone working a minimum wage job must work over eight hours every day for a year to pay full tuition.

In 2015, median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients age 25 and older with no advanced degree working full time were $24,600, or 67 percent higher than those of high school graduates, according to CollegeBoard.org.

“In terms of the cost of going to school and the amount of financial aid that is available, the federal financial aid programs have not kept pace with the attendance costs,” said long-time Financial Aid Office Director Daniel Davenport. “Forty years ago, students were able to work part-time during school or the summer and work would pretty much pay for their schooling.”

Students are placed in situations where making money in new and alternative ways outside of an hourly paying job could make the difference between attending school or dropping out, and these students make the choice to invest in their future, he said.

“There are some people who want that degree so bad that they’re willing to just about do anything for it,” Davenport said.

A student prepares to sell their clothing.




Open for nearly eight years in downtown Moscow, The Storm Cellar offers college students low cost, high-fashion clothing, and pays for used clothing.

“It’s a big return for people’s stuff, compared to the amount of work you put into it,” said Austin Storm, owner of The Storm Cellar

The Storm Cellar pays its consigners 50 percent of what the item sells for. The store currently has 4,000 active consignors and has had over 9,000 during eight years in operation.

Along with cutting costs, Storm said the store aims to mitigate textile waste.

“So much of landfill waste is textile waste, so the longer we can maintain the life cycle, the more we can minimize our environmental impact,” Storm said.

Storm was a college student before opening the business and said he understood the financial struggle many students face.

“The Storm Cellar definitely grew out of college money-making activities,” Storm said.

Roughly two-thirds of The Storm Cellar’s consignors are college students, Storm said.

“I think it really is a good trade-off. College students are busy and it allows them to be in that cycle of buying things at the store and selling them,” Storm said.

In your veins

While some people might sell bundles of clothes, others look to an alternative approach — plasma donation.

According to Green Cross America’s website, plasma is commonly used to help with immune system deficiencies, burn victims, liver conditions or bleeding conditions, amonth other uses.

The closest plasma donation center for college students on the Palouse is the GCAM Center in Pullman. Once eligible to donate, this facility offers a varying amount of payment depending on the number of donations, GCAM Manager Jim Taylor said.

A man donates plasma.

“Once they donate the first time here they get $50, for their second donation they get $75,” Taylor said. “After that, if you donate twice in a week, you get $25 for the first donation and $40 for the second.”

The payment people receive has increased over time, Taylor said.

“The price we pay people has gone up, because it has to, with the cost of living and different things,” Taylor said.

Roughly 60 percent of the facility’s donors are college students, Taylor said. Based on a survey taken last year at the GCAM facility, a larger amount of second and third-year students donate than first-years students. Taylor said he thinks this may be due to a decline in financial support for older students.

“I believe this might be because of their parents pulling away and giving them more financial independence,” Taylor said.

No matter their financial background, plasma donation has become a popular money-making method among students.

Camron Purdum, a Moscow community member, searched for ways to pay for college and stumbled upon plasma donation.

After taking time off from UI, Purdum said plasma donation became the best choice because he felt he was helping others.

“A lot of college students, and myself for instance, are in a tight financial spot and I would have almost done anything for extra money to continue college,” Purdum said.

Purdum said he is currently taking time off to handle personal matters, as well as students loans.

“No one should look at these ways of making money as a bad thing because they are there for you to use at your disposal, just as everything else is,” Purdum said. “I encourage people if they are in a stressful situation to look into it and decide if it is the best bet for them.”

Panties for profit

With a growing online sales world, students are now able to make money in ways they might not even imagine.

Websites exist that allow people to sell used underwear from their home to people around the world and make a profit.

“My friends and I were talking about how we really wanted to study abroad in Europe, but in the meantime I didn’t have a job and I had been applying but no one was hiring,” Jane said. “I really needed to make some money, like a lot of it, as quickly as I could.”

Pantydeal.com is not new to Jane and her friends.

“We were sitting there joking about it, but we all kind of gave each other the look like, ‘we would actually do that,’” Jane said.

Some of the requests made on the websites can be disturbing, Jane said, but buyers offer large cash compensation for underwear worn for a week, underwear worn in specific locations or underwear with bodily fluids.

“There was one guy on there that literally said that he would ‘pay big bucks,’” Jane said.

Although Jane did not follow through with making sales through the website, the consideration shows the situation she was placed in to have contemplated the option.

“It’s hard to make good money in this state, at this age and on a college campus and have good hours,” Jane said.

As college education becomes a requirement for finding a career and living comfortably, some extraneous financial decisions are made.

From something as minor as consigning an old jacket to donating plasma, college students have found ways beyond an hourly job to make money to sustain their lifestyle.


Editor’s Note: At her request, Blot used Jane as a pseudonym, to protect the subject’s identity.


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