If you've felt the pinch of this tough economy, then you might be looking for ways to earn some extra cash. Did you know that some universities will pay qualifying people to participate in their studies? Before you freak out and think I'm going to trick you into donating your body to science, just check it out.

My best friend is currently participating in a study.  They wanted to monitor her toddler’s speech.  When the study is over, she'll make over $400 in cash.  The only thing she has to do is let her son talk to people.  My husband's cousin also participated in a study.  She had a condition while pregnant.  All they did was put one of those step counters on her for six weeks.  She made over $200 just by walking.  Here's a quick and easy list of steps to see if your university has opportunities like that available:

  1. Go to your local university’s website and type in phrases like "paid research study" or "research study" in the search bar. Most of the schools will have a list of all of the studies currently underway.
  2. Click on the one that fits your description or situation and read the fine print. Once you’ve decided if you're going to participate, respond.
  3. Email or call the poster, explain that you meet the description and would like to participate. The worst thing that could happen is they aren’t taking applicants anymore.

While I encourage you to look for new and out-of-the-ordinary ways to find extra income, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration before starting. Every study is different, and every study should be treated differently. Above all, every study should be accepted with caution.

  • Read everything very carefully. You want to make sure that you're going to be able to commit to the agreement.  Backing out halfway through only results in wasted time and no money.
  • Make sure that you feel comfortable with the study. I saw one that was going to do four different exams on the pelvic region. Needless to say, I didn’t apply.
  • Get your money's worth. Consider what's going to be taking place and if it's truly worth your time and effort. While most of the universities will pay in cash, others give different forms of compensation like T-shirts, refreshments, and even gift cards. If you're lucky, you could even be reimbursed for your gas mileage.

After everything is said and done, you'll probably have learned something new, helped out your local students and faculty, and even put some money in your pocket. It certainly can't hurt to see what's available, and you might even have fun. The studies are updated on a regular basis: new batches come out almost every semester depending on the university.  So there's always going to be different options coming around. If you're still not convinced, here's a list of universities and the studies that are currently underway, as well as their form of payment.

  • Duke University is looking for participants for a study using an fMRI machine. The only requirement is that you must be 18 years or older and not have any implemented metal in your body. You will not be injected with anything, and they do not use ionizing radiation. Participants will be paid between $10 and $20 an hour.
  • University of Kentucky has tons of studies going. One in particular is for pregnant women or women who have had a baby within the last two years. The study is for the university and The March of Dimes. They are interested in finding out about women and their knowledge of preterm birth. Participants will be given a $10 gift card, refreshments, and child care will be provided.
  • Northwestern University has a number of studies, as well. One that caught my eye is a study on couples. The only restrictions are that both people must have been in a relationship together for at least one month, they must both participate, and they must be over 18. Questions will be asked on past relationships and current relationships. Each participant is paid $8.
  • Florida State University has a few studies available. Presently there is a study on smoking treatment and anxiety management treatment. The requirements are that you be 18 or older, a regular smoker, and interested in quitting. While you won't be paid, you'll be given four session of free treatment with a trained professional, and you could quit smoking. Talk about saving some money!
  • Washington University works a little differently. If interested in participating in studies, the applicant will complete a registry. They fill out their health history, and it's updated on a profile similar to Facebook. If the school is interested in using you, you'll be contacted. The school doesn’t list specific dollar amounts because it varies by study, but it does say that participants will be paid for their time and troubles. For instance, if someone has to stay overnight, their payment will be more generous.

This has been a guest post by August from Granite Falls, NC
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