Students find ways to make extra cash

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Courtesy of Unsplash

Editor’s note: A last name is omitted from a source due to privacy

Struggling with money is not a new concept for many college students. Balancing school and working can be tough, and sometimes the money earned from a part-time job isn’t enough.

More than 70% of college students struggle financially, with jobs only making up 4% of their tuition funding, according to an Ohio State study.

Jordan, a sophomore in event management, found a website called E-Pal where she received pay for texting men online.

“There are these men who are gamers who pay to talk to you,” Jordan said. “I would just text them for 30 minutes and they pay me $10. You’d get orders to come in, so they’d be like ‘I want to text you or do a voice call for 15 minutes.’”

After two months of texting or calling every few days, she was able to make $400. She quit the website in June because of a summer job that was able to support her financially.

“Everything was done within the website. I never had to give out any personal information; I didn’t go by my own name,” Jordan said. “They never got a hold of any of my outside contact information, and there were strict rules in place to keep it safe.”

The site goes through multiple verification steps to make sure users are not AI robots or scammers. Both men and women can join the site, and most of the users paying people are men. Payment is through the site and then gets sent to a registered PayPal account.

“If you have time to log on and talk to people for like an hour every day, you can do it,” Jordan said. “But, you also have to coordinate with other people’s schedules, like if they want to talk to you right away.”

Jordan’s experience was friendly and she never felt unsafe, but she did admit there were times when conversations got a bit uncomfortable.

“They were usually pretty nice and the conversations were actually really good,” Jordan said. “I think there were a couple of times where I wouldn’t say they were aggressive, but they just started to get kind of creepy. They had established an emotional connection with me, whereas I absolutely did not.”

A texting buddy-type website is not for everyone, and a more common way college students earn extra money is by donating plasma. Lainey Tomko, a senior in animal ecology, is one of many students to do this.

“I started donating plasma to make some extra cash in a fast and easy way while also benefiting people who need plasma to aid their health,” Tomko said.

Tomko has been donating to BioLife in Ames for about a year and makes $120 a week for two donations. With coupons they occasionally send out, it is possible to receive bonuses. Currently, a first-time donor can make up to $950 after eight donations.

“The only negative I have experienced from donating is a hematoma [a large bruise],” Tomko said. “I couldn’t donate for a few weeks due to the bruising, but once the bruising was gone I was able to start donating again and it hasn’t happened since.”

Jordan recommends E-Pal to students who feel comfortable with the concept, and Tomko recommends plasma donations to students who fit the requirements. These requirements include a medical screening, being 18 or over and weighing at least 110 pounds.