Home > Auto Loans > Pros and Cons of Having a Car on Campus During Your Freshman Year

Comments 0 Comments

As college drew nearer, I had visions of throwing all my belongings into the back of my Toyota Tacoma and driving off into adulthood. My parents had another idea—leaving the truck at home.

They said that not having a car on campus would save me time, money, and the occasional headache. It would allow me to focus on adjusting to university life and spending my weekends around the school. This turned out to be pretty solid advice, but the right decision for me won’t necessarily be the right choice for you. You need to weigh the pros and cons to determine what’s best.

First, though, you need to find out your school’s car policy. Some schools discourage students from having cars on campus. Others, such as Georgetown University, don’t even allow on-campus parking.

Northern California’s Santa Clara University, as another example, bars first-year students who live on campus from bringing their wheels with them. The school explains that keeping freshman on their feet makes them more involved in on-campus activities, and it also reserves parking space for upperclassmen.

Then again, many colleges do encourage you to bring your car. In fact, 48% of students have a car on campus, according to a 2016 survey from U.S. News & World Report. And at 14 of the 215 schools surveyed, at least 90% of students have a car.

If your school allows you to bring a car to campus, weigh these three cons first.

1. You’d Have to Pay Auto Insurance Premiums

The simple fact is that if you bring your car to college, you’ll need to insure it. Most of us know that student car insurance can be costly. Leaving your car in the driveway at home, however, could save you or your family some money.

If you’re included on your family’s insurance coverage, your parents could drop you to an “occasional” driver on the policy. That would decrease the policy’s monthly premiums. Ask your insurer about its “resident student” discount or a “student away at school” discount. There might be a 100-mile minimum requirement for the distance between your permanent address (your home) and your school to qualify.

If you have individual insurance coverage and decide to leave your car at home, you could pause or reduce your coverage. Canceling your plan would create a gap in coverage, though, potentially raising your future premiums.

2. You’d Be Footing the Bill for Parking Costs

Having a car on campus means having to park it on or near campus. There are two ways this can become costly: parking passes and parking tickets.

Even if you live off campus, you may still have to buy a pass to park on campus. It might not be cheap either. Parking permits at University of California Santa Cruz, for example, can set you back $583 per year.

Short of buying a pass, you might be tempted to break parking regulations on campus—and you’re not alone there. The average college student receives two parking tickets per year, according to Best Value Schools.

Your school’s parking enforcement might charge lower fines than your city’s police department. They’re $25 across the board at SUNY Cortland, for example. But still, the charges could pile up if you’re not careful.

Research your school’s policies and costs. There’s a wide range of possibilities. Consider New Jersey schools as an example. Rutgers University issues 5.5 tickets per driver, William Paterson University distributes 0.12, and Princeton University doesn’t ticket drivers at all, according to MyCentralJersey.com’s research.

3. You May End Up Being Your Friends’ Chauffeur

Almost 30% of millennials say affording rent and other necessities is among their top sources of money stress. And cars can bring more than their share of money troubles. Insurance, parking, gas, maintenance, emissions checks, and more are all part of car ownership and use.

But there are more cons than those that hit your wallet. If you’re a freshman driving, having a car could help you make friends, but ask yourself if you want to be the driver each time you go off campus in a group. You might rather be the one asking for occasional rides.

But a car can do worse things than cramp your style—it can put you in an unsafe situation. If you have a car, and you drive to bars with friends, you run the risk of getting behind the wheel after drinking too much. It might not always be cheaper to take public transportation or reserve an Uber, but it’s much safer.

If these cons don’t sway you, then know there are some advantages to having a car in college.

1. It’s the Best Form of Transportation Available

If your school has a sprawling campus or satellite campuses, driving from class to class might be less of a luxury and more of a necessity. There are other possible reasons for needing a car

  • You need to commute regularly for an off-campus job or internship.
  • There is no viable bus, train, or similar option to get you where you need to go.
  • The distance between your residence and classes is too far to bike.

If you decide that having a car on campus is worth the trouble, consider creating a carpool to make it worth your while. You could find classmates who live in your dorm and offer rides in exchange for something else.

2. You Can Work Your Wheels into Your Side Hustle

Having a car on campus affects your wallet in negative ways, like with insurance and parking—but it can also make you money. Some of the best side hustles require a car.

Consider one or more of the following:

  • Be a rideshare driver for a company like Uber and Lyft.
  • Treat your car like a moving billboard with help from Carvertise.
  • Rent your car out to neighbors or classmates using Turo.

If you already use your car to make money or you’re looking into it, do the math. See if your potential earnings would covers costs for parking, insurance, and the occasional oil change. Better yet, see if you could turn a profit.

You can perform the same calculation for office jobs or internships that require a commute.

3. It’s the Cheapest Way to Return Home

Freshman and college students generally live by the academic calendar. Aside from having the summer off, there are spring and winter breaks and occasional long weekends. A student’s top option is typically returning home.

No matter where you see yourself taking breaks from school—whether it’s at Mom and Dad’s or a friend’s place—map the route ahead of time. If it’s a few states away, you might be booking flights for each trip. If you live within a road trip’s distance from home, however, having a car might be your best choice—and you may decide that putting up with parking on campus is worth having the ability to drive home at a moment’s notice.

Decide Whether to Take Your Car to Campus

On a daily basis, full-time college students spend 1.4 of every 24 hours traveling, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you know you’ll be taking a car to college, you should include the cost of gas and parking when figuring out the real cost of your classes. Choosing how you travel could save you time, but it could also save you money or trouble.

Research your school’s policies and think critically about whether you need your car on campus.

The less time you spend behind the wheel, the more time you can use on your college experience.

 

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.



Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team