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Some Quick and Dirty Ways to Finance Your Education

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Is your work study getting you down? Don’t want to spend your Saturday nights in a sweaty, smoke-filled bar serving beer to drunken jocks who swear you’re the most interesting chick—I mean woman—they’ve ever met? Thinking that there must be some way to earn some quick, easy and relatively painless cash? The F Newsmagazine staff knows just how you feel, so here’s a sampling of our suggestions and troubling experiences.

If you travel to any sort of college with a scientific component, you’ll likely see fliers advertising an array of studies offering money for student participation. Some of them pay pretty well; you can make several thousand dollars, for example, by sleeping in a lab. A caveat is necessary, however: I signed up for one such study as a college freshman, where I was assigned to wear a patch containing one of several potential allergens for a week, to which the researchers assured me only one person had ever had a severe reaction. A day later, the allergen patch—the size of a dime—had given me a pus-seeping blister that caused my entire arm to swell. The study’s administrators marveled at my reaction, telling me it was the worst they had seen, but left me with nothing but $50, a sample-sized tube of Benadryl, and a scar that—six years later—I still have.

How about spending a day smoking a joint alone in a room while strapped to a chair? Or perhaps you’d prefer to participate in a cognitive psychology experiment in which suction cups are attached to your temples while you react to flashing lights on a computer screen for two hours. Who knows what these people are looking to figure out through these cockamamie schemes, but, for doing very little, you can earn (and I speak from experience here, especially about the joint part) a few hundos a day, as long as you’re willing to subject yourself to any crazy scenario “they” can come up with. These experiments are usually conducted by legit university hospitals (try Northwestern or University of Chicago) who pay fairly quickly, so the risk of bodily harm or psychological damage is fairly minimal. Unless you get freaked out by any of the above-mentioned situations, give it a try! As long as you know what you’re getting in to, you too can be at the forefront of the next medicinal miracle.Selling plasma is another fairly viable option. Most places don’t offer much as far as compensation goes, however—$20 is the average amount I’ve heard from sellers—but it may be enough to make the difference between spending Friday night with two cases of Old Style as opposed to one. As may be assumed from the fact that, well, these places want to buy your blood, you usually won’t find them in the safest neighborhoods, so always be sure you know where you’re headed. Selling your eggs is another option, and far more lucrative; agencies will pay anywhere between $5,000 and $17,000. The downside? Giving up alcohol, cigarettes, and any other intoxicating substances for around six months prior to donation, alongside receiving regular blood tests, injections of fertility hormones and a small surgical procedure lasting around 20-30 minutes. Sorry guys, but sperm donation isn’t quite so profitable; although you can probably do this more regularly, compensation ranges anywhere from the low hundreds to $3000.

If you’re a woman—or a man with the right sort of smell—and have a sense of adventure and some underwear to spare, there are people willing to hand over varying amounts of money for them. Internet auction site Ebanned.com offers a forum for users to buy and sell various clothing items ranging from nylons to sweaty gym clothes and everything in between. Horror stories detailing sale-related mishaps abound, however, so exercise responsibility and keep in mind that you’re selling personal items to a complete stranger. Stripping and working as an escort are both profitable, though arguably horribly degrading. The first is somewhat akin to working in a bar, but with bigger tips, fewer clothes, and sweatier men (or women). Escort work is generally considered to be shady and occasionally a little dangerous, so do your research first, as the lines between an escort and an individual of ill-repute are often unclear. Dominatrices, however, can earn between $100 and $300 per hour. You get to wear clothes (of a sort) and, for the most part, you’re the one in control.

There are also a couple of methods by which you can increase your financial aid award; though they entail changing your lifestyle a little, or lying to the government (not recommended). If you’re under 26, find someone of the opposite gender who is also of limited means, and marry them. This union will legally allow you to assume “independent” status from your parents. No matter what age you are, getting married can be a great way to boost your income, in this tradition and family obsessed political climate. Our editor and her grad student husband increased their financial aid income by $4000 a year by heading down to City Hall and having a really short judge marry them. Also, people mail you money for about a year after your marriage because they feel bad for you not being able to afford a wedding ceremony; all in all, a pretty good $40 investment.

Be aware that marrying your actual partner may involve family and friends taking the union seriously, which can get a little messy if you’re doing it just for cash, and will almost certainly involve cake and pained conversations with relatives you never thought you’d see again. Even less advisable is to ask your parents, if married, to get a divorce, which can result in a mega-cash flow. We’re not even going to go there.

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