Would You Sell Yourself to Pay for College (or Anything Else)?

During my freshman year in college, while visiting another college campus, I grabbed one of the school newspapers.  While looking through the pages, I noticed an ad, asking for women to allow their eggs to be harvested.

Women of average height, in good health, and possessing a good GPA were encouraged to basically sell their eggs.  Not only would the medical procedure be covered, but there was also a stipend involved.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine points out that egg donors can receive between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on what is involved.

I was briefly tempted to participate.

I met the requirements listed in the ad.  I cut out the ad and took it back to my own school.  Then I did the research on what donating entails.  There are risks involved with becoming an egg donor, from health issues, to medical screening, to injections.

I decided that, between the scholarship and the student loans, not to mention the part-time job, I would be just fine.

But that experience has stuck with me, and I know that many others find that they can do reasonably well if they are willing to sell a little bit of themselves to help pay for college (and other things).

What Can You Sell of Yourself to Pay for College?

First of all, you have to understand what things you can “sell,” and what, legally, you can’t.

sell yourself for college

How far would you go to help pay for college?

It’s illegal to just go out and sell a kidney, or a part of your liver.  However, there are some parts of your body that are considered donations or services when you offer them elsewhere.  This is a way you can make real money off your body.

Egg donation (for women) and sperm donation (for men) are both legal.  Egg donation is often termed a “service,” and in the United States it’s legal to be compensated, on top of having medical expenses paid, for providing fertility related services.  Men can also be paid for sperm donation.

It’s also possible for women to receive compensation for surrogacy services that they provide.  One of the girls that lived in my dorm served as a surrogate mother for two different pregnancies.  She was paid reasonably well for her time, as well as having all medical expenses covered, and she also received stipends to help ensure that she could afford to eat healthy foods, and attend special exercise classes for pregnant women.

Other donations you can be paid for include blood plasma and bone marrow.  It’s also possible to sell your hair to wig makers and doll makers.

Before you decide to sell bits of yourself to help you pay for school, make sure that it’s legal, that you are working with legitimate health service providers, and that you have a reasonable expectation of receiving payment.

Is It Worth It to Sell Yourself?

I decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble to have my eggs harvested.  It meant a lot of discomfort, and the possible side effects weren’t worth it for me.

However, there are plenty of other women who feel differently.

My surrogate mother friend loved how she felt when pregnant, and had no issues during her two pregnancies.

If you want to make money off your body, it’s important to understand what you are getting into.  When you go to the blood bank and donate blood plasma for $25 to $50 a donation, you don’t really have to put it a lot of time and effort.  You can go in twice in a seven-day period, and it only takes a few minutes each time.  You aren’t paid as much, but it’s quick, easy, and relatively painless.

Other procedures are a little more involved.

A bone marrow donation can take two or three days, and, even though you can get up to $300 or $400, you have to decide whether the downtime is worth it.  Even sperm donation requires a certain amount of commitment (sometimes six months or more), and you might be required to abstain from some practices prior to your sperm donation.

The most difficult, though, are egg donation and surrogacy.  You have to decide that you really are committed in order to provide these services.


Consider the time you will have to spend, and the potential risks.  Only you can decide whether this path is worth it for you.

What do you think? Would you sell certain parts of yourself for money?

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Published or updated October 25, 2012.


  1. I actually looked into the egg harvesting gig but I decided that the hormone shots and the nausea etc were too much for me. I did donate plasma while in college and since I was on the lowest donation level I did not get much money for it. The place I went to only gave $15 and $20 on alternating donations since I could only give the smallest amount. It was not much but it helped pay for groceries and got me through school!!!!

  2. I did consider donating my eggs in college so I could go traveling after a friend of mine signed up to do it. After watching her go through the process I decided it wasn’t worth it – all those injections and my fear of needles just didn’t go hand in hand. I thought long and hard about selling my blood and all that but honestly I hate needles so it seems like too high a price. There are other ways to get money and reach your goals. I eventually did go traveling and still live like a nomad in different countries but on my own terms and it all happened through waitressing of all things.

  3. I looked into donating sperm, but just couldn’t do it. I was too worried thinking I might have a kid out there somewhere. I don’t know how I would react if someone contacted me in 20 years telling me I was their father.

    I also considered plasma donation, but after hearing stories of friends doing this, I decided against it.

  4. Ti Roberts says:

    Hi Miranda,

    This is quite an interesting post. The title is what initially caught my attention. I’ve sold my blood plasma on several occasions to get money. It didn’t take long and it wasn’t painful at all. I don’t think I would ever want to donate my eggs for money nor would I be willing to surrogate a a child or donate bone marrow.

    Thanks for sharing this post on BizSugar. I found it interesting, entertaining and informative.


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