Cars at College

young college girl driving
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Are you wondering if your new college freshman should take a car to school? Here are five things to consider:

Contact Your Student's School
Before you even start debating the issue with your teen, check to see if the university allows its freshmen to bring cars. Some colleges don’t allow cars, preferring to keep their freshmen on campus making friends, forming bonds and getting settled – and you may prefer that too.

A Car is an Added Expense
College parking passes can range from $25 to more than $700 per semester. That's a sizable fee that allows students to park, but doesn’t guarantee a parking place. At large universities, it’s entirely possible to spend hundreds of dollars for a pass and discover that every campus parking space is gone by 9 a.m. Make sure your child understands the parking regulations too. His student pass won't save him from a pricey parking ticket if he leaves his car in a faculty lot or parks in some other unauthorized area.

Consider Auto Insurance Savings
Check your auto insurance policy. Many policies allow you to suspend your teen's coverage - and save some cash - during the school year if he attends a campus 100 or more miles from home and is not taking a car. Your teen can still drive your car occasionally when he comes home for Thanksgiving break, but you’ll need to resume insurance payments when he comes home for the longer summer break.

If he does take a car to school, double check with your insurance agent about the location. Insurance rates are based on where the car is garaged.

Is There Really a Need for a Car?
Worried that the lack of a car will leave your child stuck on campus? In fact, many students prefer not to drive, choosing to use ride sharing services such as Uber or Lyft.

Some colleges run shuttle services or campus taxis to popular locations. They provide bus service to the airport at the beginning and end of major holidays, such as Thanksgiving break. They arrange weekend outings to nearby hiking or surfing spots via bus. In the event of an emergency – an accident or illness serious enough to send a student to the hospital, for example, but not desperate enough to warrant an ambulance - campus security can arrange transport. And many upperclassmen bring cars to school. There is usually some nice dorm dweller willing to provide a lift, especially if your kid offers to pay for gas.

If Your Student Needs a Car for a Special Event
Rent a Zipcar. Students on more than 100 university campuses can join Zipcar. Licensed drivers, ages 18 and up, can borrow a car for an hour or two, gas and insurance included.