The Most Extreme Things Parents Have Done to Pay for School

Pay for School

The Most Extreme Things Parents Have Done to Pay for School

Published December 27, 2022

Pay for School

Comments in this story were first published in our Paying for College 101 (PFC 101) Facebook community. They’ve been edited for clarity and flow. 

It’s no secret that college can be expensive these days. That’s why parents are often looking for additional ways to pay for school. 

Some parents refinance their houses to help pay the tuition bill, while others pick up part-time jobs to cover costs. But as the cost of college continues to rise, parents are becoming more creative about how they pay for their child’s education. 

PFC 101 member Leslie F. asked parents about the “extreme things” they have done to help pay for college. 

Here are some highlights from their answers: 

Becoming Landlords to Pay for School

Several parents said they either bought a small rental or rented out rooms in their homes to earn extra money.  

“Bought a cheap rental house four years ago. Been socking away the monthly rents for college tuition and we will sell it next year for a good profit which we’ll also use for college expenses.” – Charlene M. 

Karen M. said she bought a rental property that “has appreciated enough to cover most college costs.” 

Cindy L. buys apartment buildings and flips homes.“We don’t use the money we make off of them and have been taking the profits over the years and putting them into our kids 529 college plan.” 

Some families have extra space and choose to rent rooms out on Airbnb

Sarah T. mentioned that when she was going to Harvard, her parents rented out two bedrooms in their house to help pay tuition. “I’ve been grateful to them every day since.”

Plasma Donors Help in Multiple Ways

“Sold my plasma to pay for my daughter’s SAT prep. Worth every drop.” – Rob B. 

Selling plasma is a way to earn some extra cash. A number of parents noted that they had done this to help pay college costs. Some, such as Sheila N., even recalled that they donated plasma as a college student themselves. 

At most places, plasma donors are paid between $50 and $70 per appointment. The American Red Cross says donors can give plasma every 28 days and up to 13 times a year. But many private companies allow people to donate twice a week. 

“My son and I went together to sell plasma when he turned 18. We had both had Covid already so our blood was worth more. We each made over $100 every time and we went twice a week.” – Jesse C. 

Selling Things Is an Option 

“Selling stuff on eBay that we don’t use/want any more. Good for giving our daughter some fun money more than anything else…not really tuition level payments.” – Sammie S. 

Many parents said they got rid of some items around the house to put that cash toward the college bill. While eBay has been a popular site, some parents mentioned using online marketplaces to sell their things. From old clothes to electronics, there’s no shortage of websites to use to sell on these days. 

“Sold my high school ring for the value of the gold (much less than I thought, but I needed it). – Kirsten R. 

Some parents sold much bigger items. Polly H. sold her car and instead drove her daughter’s car while she was away at college. 

Side Jobs Bring In Extra Income

“At almost 60 years old, I’m working three jobs! — Laura A. 

It’s common for students to work part-time to pay for books or other college expenses. Some parents mentioned they are, too. 

Kerry R. said she bartends part-time, while Cynthia R. tutors in math on the side. 

More people are using their cars to earn extra money, too. Sharon C. said she was a driver for Doordash during the lockdown. 

“I drive Uber. A lot. Make some good money doing it as well.”— Tamara M. 

“I worked an extra 12-hour shift every Saturday for six years. I’m a registered nurse and have a Monday through Friday job but that extra 12 at the bedside just about covered tuition for three kids. It was exhausting though.” – Jennifer G. 

For students, these stories are not only a good reminder of the power of love, but to thank Mom and Dad for the hard work and sacrifices they’ve made to help them earn a college degree.

You Might Also Like:

How to Avoid Student Loan Debt

How to Make Affordable Colleges Even More Affordable

Best Side Gigs for Parents to Pay for College

Paying for College 101: College Financing Best Practices






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