Multiple tipsters tell Valleywag that the company quietly rolled out a program called "Uber Scholar" today. Uber is targeting students and recent graduates in a Washington D.C.-based pilot program, which the company describes as a "student debt assistance program designed to help driver partners manage and pay off student debt."
Details on the program are skim—there are no public announcements from Uber on their new student loan services. And it seems Uber released multiple versions of their announcement email to drivers.
One email sent to a D.C. driver that was obtained by Valleywag solicits a recent copy of a "student debt bill" from drivers. Uber also said they are working with a startup called Tuition.io to help manager their drivers' debt:
You have invested in your education, so we are investing more in you - during peak-hours Uber will match 1% of your fares. That means if you earn $1,000 we will give you an additional $10 just for enrolling in the UberScholar program. The below schedule outlines when you are eligible for higher earnings.
A tipster tells Valleywag that Uber has been soliciting driver feedback on Uber Scholar since early August. The company sent drivers a Google Docs survey, asking their "partners" to answer basic questions about their student debt, including:
- Do you currently have student debt?
- Are you looking for ways to pay off your student debt?
- Would you be interested in a Uber program to help you manage/payoff debt?
- Are you currently in school or planning to go back to school?
- Are you looking for ways to help pay for your school expenses? (Tuition, Books, Housing, etc..)
- Do you plan to borrow money to go back to school?
So far, drivers have reacted mostly negatively to the program's announcement. One on UberPeople was upbeat, remarking, "I just filled the application because I have a big student loan... The only harm would be paying off my loan."
Others were not so favorable:
"This is ridiculous."
"I think now I have now seen it all"
"Uber helping you financially? Working as a 'Partner' doesn't do that why would one think any other way?"
Update 10:00am: A few more tipsters have emailed Valleywag about the program. One gives a little more background about the Tuition.io program:
Tuition.io is a free program regardless, Uber is branding this as an incentive. Additionally, the mere 1% bonus only applies during peak hours (late weekends) and is after they already take 20%, which means drivers are earning less then 1%. Uber using this as a ploy to fix shortage of drivers during these hours.
There is speculation that Uber is potentially profiting from driver loan data in this partnership, hence this "eluded" false partnership with Tuition.io. Uber sells Tuition.io driver data and then Tuition.io can then resell data to refinance and consolidation companies.
Another education program unveiled last week allows drivers to receive tuition discounts at colleges. One such discount offered to Chicago drivers gives ten percent tuition reduction at Robert Morris University. The benefit seems like a good deal for students, but Uber doesn't specify if students can keep the discount if they leave the platform or are removed for receiving a low rating.