Best Jobs for College Students to Start Paying Student Loans

Grace Lemire
Grace Lemire

Grace Lemire is a freelance writer and editor with over five years of experience in the personal finance industry. She has been featured on a variety of publications, including NPR, CNN, FinanceBuzz, Dollar Geek, Pangea, and True Finance. Her work focuses on the intersection of personal finance and technology. In 2023, Grace was nominated for the Best Personal Finance Advice award in’s FinTok Awards.

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Daniel Kahn
Daniel Kahn
Daniel is the co-founder and COO at Sparrow. Daniel is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company, working closely with other members of the executive team to develop and implement strategies to support the growth and success of the company.
Daniel was a 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 lister in the Education category.  Daniel was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from Duke University in 2020.
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Camden Ford
Camden Ford

Camden leads Sparrow’s business operations – everything from product management to business analytics. After graduating Cum Laude from Duke University where he studied Civil Engineering, Camden worked as a Consultant for A.T. Kearney where he worked in their Strategic Operations practice. With a strong background in analytics, Camden strives to deliver data-driven conclusions and insights.

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November 10, 2023

The average 4-year in-state college degree will run you nearly $25,000 per year, or over $100,000 for the entire degree. If you’re borrowing student loans to cover this, it’ll likely cost you even more once interest is factored in.

Having a job while in school can not only help you manage your college expenses but help you chip away at your student loan debt before you even graduate.

Here are the 12 best jobs for college students to start paying off your student debt.

Best On Campus Jobs for College Students

On-campus jobs are ideal in college as you won’t have a commute, you can work with other people your age, and they tend to be more flexible and understanding of a college student’s busy schedule. 

You may find securing an on-campus job to be easier as well, as many college programs and offices are run primarily by student workers.

Fitness Instructor

If you enjoy working out, being a fitness instructor at the campus recreation center is a perfect job for you. There are often a wide variety of fitness classes you can teach such as spin, aerobics, and barre, so you’re bound to find a class you enjoy teaching.

The average entry-level fitness instructor makes around $19 per hour, which is higher than most traditional college jobs.

Resident Assistant

Resident assistants (RAs) are an essential part of living on campus. They help maintain the dorms, support students in various ways, and help uphold campus policy.

The exact terms of compensation will vary from school to school, but oftentimes, being an RA gets you both free room and board and a stipend. 

At the University of Connecticut, for example, RAs receive a housing waiver plus a stipend of $4,510 for the academic year, paid out biweekly. While the housing waiver doesn’t give you cash in your pocket, it does result in significant savings overall.


If you tend to excel in an area of study, putting your knowledge to use as a tutor could score you some serious cash, around $18 per hour to be exact. While some campuses may have specific tutoring centers you can apply to, you can also offer tutoring services privately. 

Rideshare Driver

If you have a car on campus, driving for a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft may be a perfect fit for you. With the ability to pick your own hours, being a rideshare driver is perfect if you’re busy or have a schedule that changes frequently. Plus, college students are always in need of a ride, especially if your campus is big or spreads throughout a city.

The average rideshare driver makes around $15 per hour, but this rate can vary significantly based on tips and location.

Best Off-Campus Jobs for College Students

The best jobs for college students aren’t always on campus. If you’re itching to work outside the campus atmosphere, there are a variety of off-campus jobs you may enjoy. 


If you love working with kids, consider being a babysitter for local families. To connect with families looking for babysitters, search for “[Town] Babysitting Group” on Facebook, then promote your services within the group. 

The average hourly rate for babysitting is around $11 per hour, however, it can range significantly based on the number of children you’re caring for, their age(s), and any special requests the parent(s) may have. For example, picking up the children from school, bringing them to practice, or making them dinner will often result in a higher hourly rate.

Dog Walker/Pet Sitter

If kids aren’t your thing but dogs are, dog walking and pet sitting will be right up your alley. Apps like Rover are designed to connect pet owners with dog walkers and sitters, making it an easy gig to pick up when you have free time. Plus, the average dog walker makes around $15 per hour.

Food Service

Waiting tables at a local restaurant may sound a bit less fun than playing with puppies, but it can be fairly lucrative. During peak seasons where more families are visiting campus — open house season, the end of semesters when parents are coming to pick up their kids, etc. — you can rack up quite a bit of cash. 

The average food service worker makes $13.91 per hour, but at some chain restaurants such as Chili’s, you can make upwards of $22 per hour.

Ocean Lifeguard

Lifeguards, in general, are paid fairly well. However, if your school is close to an ocean, you may want to consider applying for an ocean lifeguard role. Ocean lifeguards tend to make more than pool lifeguards, bringing in around $16 per hour. While you would have to obtain a lifeguard certification, it’s the perfect gig if you enjoy sitting in the sun and being by the water.

Best Online Jobs for College Students

If showing up to work in person isn’t your jam, we can’t blame you. Working from your dorm in your pajamas does sound pretty sweet, and there’s several jobs that will allow you to do just that.

Freelance Writer

As a freelancer, you’re essentially your own business. You get to choose what services you offer and at what rate, making it a highly flexible and fairly lucrative job. In fact, the average freelance writer makes around $23 per hour as a base rate.

Online English Teacher

If you enjoy working with children but don’t want to be physically in person, consider teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) online. Most ESL tutoring websites will set you up with a proper curriculum and provide guidance around how to actually teach English. Plus, the average ESL teacher makes $23 per hour, which is a fairly high rate in comparison to other college jobs.

Social Media Manager

If 95% of your screen time is spent scrolling through Tik Tok, being a social media manager is the gig for you. Social media managers make around $22 per hour when just starting out and even more with experience. 


If you know more than one language, interpreting or translating is for you. Beginner interpreters can make around $23 per hour, but it can range depending on the languages you know and the organizations you work with.

College Jobs and Their Impact On Your Student Debt

It might be challenging to imagine how a $13 per hour college job could actually make a dent in your student debt, so let’s illustrate it.

Let’s say you worked 5 hours per week at $13 an hour. Before taxes, you’d make $260 per month. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use your pre-tax income to estimate how much you’d save.

Now, let’s say you worked that same job, at the same rate, and for the same number of hours per week, for the entire duration of your college career.

$260 per month x 12 months in a year x 4 years (the typical length of a bachelor’s degree) = $12,480

Here’s how much you could save on the average student loan*, depending on how much you put towards your debt.

Example 1Example 2Example 3
Loan Balance$37,584$37,584$37,584
Interest Rate5.8%5.8%5.8%
Repayment Term20 years20 years20 years
Percentage of Income Put Towards Student Debt10%20%30%
Dollar Amount Put Towards Student Debt$1,248$2,496$3,744
Amount Saved Over the Life of the Loan$2,580$4,851$6,861

As you can see, putting even a small portion of your income towards your debt can result in significant savings. So, while working in college can sometimes be challenging to manage, consider picking up one of the jobs listed above, even for just a few hours a week. 

*The average student loan balance is $37,584. The average student loan interest rate is 5.8%. The average student loan borrower takes 20 years to repay their student loan debt. Calculations are based on the averages — a $37,584 loan with a 5.8% interest rate and a 20-year repayment term.

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