How to Get Paid to Go To School

If you want to further your education, you may be worried about the costs.

And since the average student loan debt is right at $37,000, I don’t blame you one bit.

There is some good news though, if you play your cards right (and work really hard), you may be able to get that degree you want and come out ahead.

Here’s how to get paid to go to school.

Can You Really Get Paid to Go to School?

There are many ways to find money to cover education costs. While most people don’t technically get paid to go to school, getting your degree at zero cost or even walking away with a bit of money in your pocket is possible.

However, there’s no one way to do this. Instead, you have to stack multiple methods together.

Here’s the most common strategy to get  paid to go to school:

  • Choose an inexpensive school
  • Apply for ALL available grants and scholarships

Just doing this may fully cover the cost of your tuition.

You can then put money in your pocket by taking advantage of employer tuition reimbursement programs, getting an on-campus job, or finding a paid internship.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Ways to Get Paid to Go To School

1. Apply for Grants
2. Apply for Scholarships
3. Look for a Job with Tuition Reimbursement
4. Become a Resident Assistant
5. Join the Military
6. Attend a Community College
7. Get Your Tuition Completely Covered
8. Find a Paid Internship

1. Apply for Grants

Get Paid To Get To School - Apply for Grants

Unlike loans, grants are free money that you don’t have to pay back. These are usually given by the federal or state government, but some non-profit organizations also issue them.

Grants are given on a needs-base or on merit.

Needs-based grants go to those who are considered low income, live in a specific area, or fit a particular demographic.

Merit-based grants are given based on an applicant’s accomplishments.

If you want to get paid to go to school you should start by applying for as many grants as possible. Here are a few of the most popular you should check out:

Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is the most popular college-education grant. You automatically apply to it when you fill out the FAFSA.

If you’re working toward your first associate’s or bachelor’s degree, you can qualify—however, the amount they’ll award you will depend upon your income levels. The lower your income, the more money you’ll receive from this grant.

For the 2021 school year, you can earn up to $6,495 in Pell Grant funds.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant

This is another grant offered by the federal government. It goes to students who show the most financial need. However, not all colleges participate in this program, so check with your college’s financial aid office if you’re very low-income.

Eligible students can receive anywhere from $100 – $4,000 in FSEOG money.


If you’re going to school to become a teacher (getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree) and plan to work in a high-need area, you can qualify for the TEACH grant.

This grant will give you up to $4,000 per year in aid that you don’t have to pay back. However, to qualify, you’re obligated to work in an at-risk or high-need area for a specified amount of time. Of course, if you don’t meet the work obligations you agreed to, you’ll have to pay the grant money back.

You’ll need to meet other requirements as well.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

If you’re under 24, your income levels are too high for a Federal Pell Grant, and you lost a parent or guardian who was a member of the US Armed forces in Afghanistan or Iraq, you may qualify for this grant.

This grant will award you up to the amount a Federal Pell Grant would per year, which is currently $6,495.

State Level Grants

In addition to applying to the federal grants listed above, you need to check on state-level grants. Grant availability varies widely from state to state.

You can check this resource to look up available grants from your state.

2. Apply for Scholarships

Get Paid To Get To School - Apply for Scholarships

I hope I’ve made it abundantly clear – the very first thing you should do is apply for every grant you might be eligible for. Luckily, filling out a FAFSA each year will help you apply to all of the good federal grants.

After you’ve applied for grants, move onto scholarships – scholarships are also free money that you don’t have to pay back. Unfortunately, though, scholarships aren’t as easy to apply to as grants.

To win a scholarship, you have to meet a particular set of criteria and sometimes send in essays or other types of work.

Here are the most common types of scholarships:

  • Academic
  • Sports
  • Community Service Based
  • Identity/Ethnicity Based
  • Income/Area/Needs

The first place you should look for scholarships is in your local community. Many businesses award small scholarships, and the competition for them will be less than the ones where students compete on a larger scale.

Also, be sure to check out the US Department of Labor’s college scholarship directory to find applicable opportunities.

If you’re a star athlete at Division I or Division II school, talk to your coach about athletic scholarships.

3. Look for a Job with Tuition Reimbursement

Get Paid To Get To School - Look for a Job with Tuition Reimbursement

Tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance is when an employer helps pay for college. This usually happens when you’re pursuing a degree closely related to the industry of your employer.

Typically you don’t receive the money until after completing the course, semester, or degree, depending on your employer’s program. (Hence, the term reimbursement.)

Other eligibility requirements may include meeting a minimum GPA and working a set amount of hours.

If you’re currently employed, check with your job’s HR department to get details on any tuition reimbursement programs.

Or, if you’re interested in finding a job with an employer who offers this benefit, try one of the following companies:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Best Buy
  • Geico
  • Comcast
  • Chipotle
  • Home Depot
  • Starbucks

Tuition reimbursement can be huge if you want to get paid to go to college. Not only will it help you score a free education, but in most cases, when you finish your degree, you’ll also get a raise or promotion.

4. Become a Resident Assistant 

Get Paid To Get To School - Become a Resident Assistant 

Resident Assistants live on campus and coordinate all of the activities for the residence hall that they live in. They also have to enforce some rules, so this may not be the fit for you if you’re not up to that.

The requirements for RA jobs are usually pretty minimal – only requiring applicants to have experience living on campus and meet a minimum GPA requirement.

The compensation for one of these jobs will range anywhere from $2,000 – $10,000 per academic year, depending on the school.

5. Join the Military

Get Paid To Get To School - Join the Military

If you’re in any branch of the US military, there’s a program that will pay some, if not all, of your college tuition expenses. Many of these programs will even pay a one-time relocation fee, cover the cost of books, lab fees, and special fees, up to a certain amount.

Some of these programs also transfer to your spouse and children.

Here is a look at a couple of the most common programs:

  • Military Tuition Assistance – This program is available for all branches of the armed forces; however, benefits vary depending on the branch. In general, this program pays 100% of tuition fees up to $4,500 per year.
  • GI Bill – There are several types of GI bills military members can use for education or job training. These may even be transferable to military spouses and children.

If you’re in the military or are thinking of joining, look into the program details they offer you for specific information.

6. Attend a Community College

Attend a Community College

If you want to go to college for free or get paid to go to school, you should NOT pick a school with outrageous tuition costs. Instead, try a community college.

According to the College Board, the costs of community college are, on average, $3,440 for a year. That means your Federal Pell Grant could pay your entire tuition, and then any scholarship or other grant money could go toward costs like books or transportation.

Here’s a look at how community college costs stack up against universities:

  • Community College Tuition – $3,440
  • Public 4 Year College – $9,410
  • Public 4 Year Out of State College – $23,890
  • Private 4 Year College – $32,410

Bottom line: If you want to walk away from college with money in your pocket, go to a community college or an in-state four-year college. Avoid going out of state or attending a private school – choosing either of these will likely result in student loan debt.

7. Get Your Tuition Completely Covered

Get Your Tuition Completely Covered

The government has talked about tuition-free college for a while, but what you might not know is that several states are already offering online or community colleges to some residents free of charge.

However, it’s not always clear-cut. To qualify, you’ll generally need to live in a specific area and be considered low income.

You’ll also still need to cover the costs of books and supplies.

Here are links to the states or colleges offering grants or scholarships for free schooling:

8. Find a Paid Internship

Find a Paid Internship

Not every major requires you to complete an internship, but many of them do. So, if you fall in that category, try to find a paid one.

To find a well paid internship, you’ll need to start networking long before you’re required to have the internship complete. An excellent place to start is at your campus’s career center or with past alumni. You should also check out career fairs and networking events.

If you want to land a paid internship, you’re going to need some connections.

Related Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Tutoring Business

Can you get paid to go to trade school?

Yes, you can get paid to go to a trade school, and it’s pretty similar to getting paid to go to college. Start by filling out a FAFSA. You can earn a Federal Pell Grant of up to $6,495 per year based on your eligibility. You may also qualify for other grants and scholarships.

If you’re interested in working now, you can find tuition assistance programs from companies like BMW, Cummins, Tesla, and Toyota, to name a few. Working for one of these companies and then completing extra training may even help you get a promotion or raise.

Can you go to an online college for free?

If the online college you want to go to is accredited, it is possible to attend it for free. You’ll need to fill out the FAFSA to determine financial aid eligibility just like you would with any other school.

What kind of jobs can college students do to make money?

If you’re a college student, try finding a flexible job that will work with your schedule. Some solid options include tutoring, freelance writing, working as an Apple customer support specialist, and managing social media pages for companies.

If you live on campus, you can look into work-study jobs.

Other Side Hustle Ideas Worth Checking Out

Here are a few more side hustles you can check out:


If you want to get paid to go to school, it’s certainly possible. However, you’re most likely to achieve this if you go to an inexpensive school such as a community college. You’ll also need to apply for as many grants and scholarships as you can.

If you go to a reasonably priced school, the grants you receive may be enough to cover your entire tuition. Pair that with on-campus jobs, tuition reimbursement, or paid internships, and you can end your college career with money in your pocket.

Looking for more ways to earn money?

Check out the video below to learn how I went from $0 to $3,000,000:

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