As college students battle the job search in this challenging economy, many are finding unconventional ways to generate income. 

When student loan costs accrue and deferment is no longer an option, some college students are getting cash by serving as medical lab rats to pay off school debt.

John McKinley-Campbell had aspirations of obtaining his PhD. at Florida International University shortly after finishing college. But, with no post-graduation job and over $130,000 in student debt, Campbell decided that becoming a lab rat was one way he could reach that goal financially.

He chose to participate in several pharmaceutical studies which included living in a medical facility for 14 days to test out arthritis medication. He even agreed to receive injections of a breast cancer drug through an IV for eight days.

Those two studies combined earned Campbell $8,500 which will help pay for his $1,800 GRE preparation course, a $175 test fee, and his $100 application fee.  He saved the remainder of the money for tuition and housing once he is accepted into a PhD. program.

“If I can’t find work [while in school], there’s always a headache medicine I could test,” Campbell said.

Norah, a 24-year-old grad student decided that she would earn her income by donating her eggs to the Shady Grove Fertility Center in Maryland.

She earned $6,500 for her first donation which nearly covered her expenses for the entire school year. If she continues, she will be able to pay the full cost of her program by making about $15,000.

“When I worked a second job [between college and graduate school], it took me almost a year working in retail to make this same amount I’ve already made from one egg donation,” she said.

Another college student spent the past year making nearly $2,600 in sperm donations to the California Cryobank. The funds helped him pay for housing, tuition, and other college expenses.

While some students are choosing the medical route others are using their looks to bolster their pockets.

A 21-year-old college student said she receives a $1,500 monthly allowance from her “sugar daddy” to cover her school tuition. She met the 37-year old sugar daddy on SeekingArrangment.com, an online website that helps rich men connect with young women who are looking for financial support in exchange for their company.  

According to the site, about 40 percent of the members are college students making an average income of $4,200 a month. Two -thirds of the members admitted that they use the site as a secondary or third means of income.

Parents are also finding creative ways to cover their child’s college costs.

When Dave McDougall was $4,000 short of his son’s tuition he decided to pawn 15 pennies from his $40,000 coin collection to meet the need.

Carol Carlisle and her husband chose to serve as host parents for international students coming to America to learn English as a second language. Host families earn about $32 a night and the Carlisles are hoping to pay back the home equity loan they used to pay off their daughter’s college tuition.

“When our daughter graduated high school in 2005, we thought we would use our home equity to pay for college and would pay it back, but then 2008 came around and my husband is a builder and everything collapsed for him,” Carlisle said. “Besides being a joy [to host ESL students], we get this check every month, and we can finally make payments on that home equity.”

So far, the Carlisles have made $2,700 as a host family.

In an extreme measure to prepare for college expenses, Wayne Perry created a YouTube video featuring his newborn son holding the forceps used to cut his own umbilical cord. Perry’s video quickly went viral and attracted over a million viewers.  He receives nearly $1,000 a month from Google AdSense, a service that places ads on online videos and pays the publisher each time the ad is clicked or viewed. So far, he’s made $8,000 and has placed it in a college fund for his son who is now two-years-old.

“We’re middle class, where we make too much to get a lot of [college] grants and low-cost loans but don’t make enough to foot the bill for a really great school—and imagine when he’s 18 what the cost of tuition will be,” Perry said. “I could never have saved that kind of money for him without this—never.”

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