If you're like many college or graduate students, the thought of taking on hefty student loans that may dwarf the average mortgage payment upon graduation can be a discouraging one, leading you to seek alternate financing for your degree. On the other hand, full-time studies often don't leave enough time or energy for a full-time (or even a part-time) job. What is the debt-averse student to do? While selling plasma was once the primary way for college students to upgrade from a rice-and-beans diet to something a bit more substantial, today's big money is often in clinical research. Read on to learn more about clinical trial participation and some situations in which taking part in these trials could help you put a significant dent into your college or graduate school expenses.
Why do some clinical trials pay their participants?
For those whose studies are concentrated in the psychology, sociology, or statistics fields, the idea of paying for results can seem anathema -- after all, how can you ensure unbiased results when participants are being paid to be there? However, when it comes to medical research, compensating participants for their time and effort is a common practice by researchers to increase the number of qualifying participants within any particular study and improve the reliability of the results. Because it can be hard to "fake" clinical results the same way one could "fake" responses to a psychological or sociological survey, these researchers are less concerned about any impact a stipend could have on participants; and because participants are sometimes signing up for potentially negative or even harmful side effects, some compensation (along with the signing of a hefty liability waiver) is deemed appropriate.
How can you finance your education by participating in these trials?
If you're interested in earning money by taking part in clinical studies, your first step should be to research the various clinical trials available in your area. In some cities, these trials are conducted by a fairly insulated group of companies, while larger cities can boast dozens or even hundreds of different research organizations. The lengthier a list you're able to amass, the more data points you have for comparison when it comes time to see which studies pay the most (and are therefore the best use of your time).
You may also want to ask around -- it's unlikely you're the only student at your school who is considering this path, and others may be able to provide advice on organizations in your area that pay well (and those that don't).