Driving for a ride-share app sounds like a straightforward way to make some extra money, but there are a few things you should know first.
University students famously don't have enough of two things — time and money. You might have an awkward class schedule that prevents you from getting a part-time job at a restaurant or retail shop near your campus.
That's why many college students start driving for Uber. This guide explains what you should know before you start so you'll understand if it's the right job for you.
1. You'll Control Your Schedule
You can't work a closing shift at a restaurant with night classes or become a bartender if you're only free in the mornings. Uber lets you control your schedule, so you can jump behind the wheel and start making money whenever you have a free hour or two.
You don't have to commit to a specific number of hours every week either, which takes away one of the most significant pressures of a traditional job.
2. You'll Have to Save for Taxes
Uber drivers are independent contractors. You won't get a W2 every year that tracks how much you paid in taxes because Uber doesn't withdraw taxes before paying their drivers.
Instead, you should plan to set aside 30% of each paycheck for quarterly tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and your state's department of revenue.
3. You'll Need Health Insurance
A lot of traditional employees get health insurance from their employer, but independent contractors have to find it through the open marketplace. You could qualify for federal coverage like COBRA or the Affordable Care Act, depending on the state you live in, your situation and income.
See which options have monthly premiums that match your budget so you're not on your own if you need medical attention.
4. You'll Have to Pass the Age Requirements
Uber doesn't let just anyone become a driver. The company wants people who have experience and who know what they're doing. You'll need three years of driving experience if you're younger than 23, and you have to be at least 21 to drive.
Make sure you also obtain in-state car insurance in your name, as you can't be an Uber driver if you're on your parents' insurance.
5. You Won't Always Be Driving
Even when you're on-the-clock, you won't always be driving. Sometimes you'll have to sit in your car and wait for people to sign up for a ride.
Utilize that free time to make your college experience more fun. You could try an investment app for your new income or train your mind to learn faster with brain training apps.
6. You Might Affect Your Financial Aid
If you rely on need-based financial aid, driving for Uber could disrupt that. You'll make more money during the current tax year, which will determine whether you receive the same aid in two years.
This won't affect juniors or seniors, but first-year students and sophomores may need to check their income protection allowance so they don't make too much money and lose their financial aid.
7. You Could Earn Free Tuition
Students in Arizona who complete more than 3,000 trips could earn free tuition to Arizona State University. Uber is currently operating a pilot program to test out a rewards feature for drivers with excellent ratings. It's something to consider if you live in Arizona and want to qualify for tuition funding.
8. You'll Put Miles on Your Car
Driving more often ages your car. As the odometer racks up, you'll risk wearing down your transmission and tires. They're expensive to repair or replace, so keep that in mind if you decide to become a professional rideshare driver.
Start the Right Part-Time Job
Is becoming an Uber driver right for you? Consider these factors before signing up for a job. You might love the flexible schedule or find that quarterly taxes take your focus away from school. Weigh your options to find the best solution and provide yourself with an income that makes college much more enjoyable.