Stop Being Broke: + Ways to Make Money in College - Winter

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One of the biggest shocks to international students that I run into is that they think they can study in the USA on an F1 visa and also get a full time job to help pay for living costs. Huge bummer, I know!

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Unless you are working "under the table" idiom for the day anyone? And technically working under the table is still illegal and can implicate both the business owner and you if someone finds out.

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The biggest negative implication of this is if you want to stay in the USA and work after university, get a permanent job, eventually apply for residency or citizenship, etc. Working off campus could affect you being able to legally stay in the USA later in life. It's not all negative though, and there are still several ways you can earn money while studying in the USA.

Both private and public universities are given something called Federal Work Study. Think of federal work study as a pile of money that each institution has to hire student workers. Institutions can decide what make money to study and offices around campus get some of this pile and get to hire students to work for them.


Domestic students who are going to that institution may or may not be granted Federal Work Study based off of their financial situation. The biggest thing to note here — international students cannot apply for jobs on campus that use Federal Work Study. All universities have career services or departments that can advise students which jobs they can apply for.

The good news is that universities often set aside separate budgets for students who are either international or do not qualify for federal work study. These are piles of money that they can give to any department who needs make money to study student workers.

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These are the jobs that you can apply for as an international student! I recommend asking the department IT, the library, cafeteria, etc if they can hire international students before you go through the time applying for these jobs.

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  • You get to set your own hourly rate and determine your own schedule, making this another appealing option for college students.
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The other good news is that you can work full time when school is not in session, meaning that during winter and summer break, you could work up to 40 hours per week. The tip in the list above said to look for stipend positions. While international students can only work so many hours per week, they can often "stack" or add online earnings myth or reality second on campus job if it is a stipend position.

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In this way, you can get around having a limited number of hours for one job. RAs - living in a dorm and supervising students living in one floor or building this is a great position that often offers free housing! Universities that offer a lot of support for international students are excellent at finding ways to help international students with jobs.

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The other options for international students include off campus employment opportunities. CPT, or curricular practical training, is when international students can earn money working off campus in a field that is directly related to their degree. In addition, you can apply for pre-completion OPT, or optical practical training, during your time of study as well.

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Note there are time limits on both of these and you cannot work for more than one year or days. One of the benefits of studying in the USA is that every time you finish a degree, you get up to one year of post-completion OPT as well.

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This means that you can find a job directly related to your field of studyand you are able to legally reside in the USA for up to one year working full time. Now, there are even certain degree types that can qualify for OPT extensions, which is additional work time in the USA. CPT and OPT can be complicated processes if you are doing it for the first time, so keep an eye out for a separate blog on these processes coming soon.

When studying on an F1 student visa, your ways to earn money are: Working on campus.