The Pros and Cons of Bringing a Car to College

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  • Pro: Flexibility
  • Pro: Entertainment and ease
  • Con: It is expensive
  • Con: Responsibility
  • Do I need a car?
  • Cheap insurance
  • FAQs
Heading off to college this fall? Having a car gives you a certain level of flexibility and ease, but it’s also an expensive option with added responsibility.
Before packing up your car, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of bringing a car to college. It’s a personal choice, and the car insurance comparison shopping and broker app Jerry is here with everything you need to consider—and advice on finding cheap car insurance for college students.
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Pro: A car gives you a certain level of flexibility

Leaving campus

Bringing your car to college gives you the ability to leave campus whenever you want. This makes it easy and convenient to shop for groceries, prescriptions, and school supplies.
If the closest stores and markets have limited or expensive supplies, having a car also gives you the ability to shop around town for more affordable options.

Finding a job

Having a car also gives you flexibility if you’re looking for a part-time job. You won’t be limited to jobs that are within walking distance of your dorm and can cast a wider net to find a job that better meets your needs or interests.

Traveling home

If you have your own car with you at college, it’s easier to travel home on school breaks. Depending on the distance from your college, you may even be able to visit home on the weekends without paying for a train ticket or airfare.
Key Takeaway Getting around can be a huge obstacle for college students, but having a personal vehicle helps address those limitations.

Pro: A car can make college life easier and more fun

Instead of feeling stuck on campus, you have the freedom to easily visit restaurants, shops, and movie theaters on the weekends or in between classes.
This gives you the chance to explore the surrounding town, visit friends at nearby schools, or venture even farther away from campus by traveling to an exciting city or going on a road trip with friends.
Not to mention, it’s certainly convenient to have a car during the winter. Being able to drive to a club meeting or a friend’s apartment is a huge advantage when the weather becomes colder and you feel tempted to cancel all your plans rather than trudging through the rain or snow.
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Con: Having a car in college is expensive

Regular upkeep

Although comparison shopping can help you find the best rates on car insurance for college students, the cost of gas, maintenance, and other expenses can quickly add up.

College parking permit

Most colleges also require parking permits to keep your vehicle on campus—and those permits vary dramatically in price.
For example, the University of Utah offers parking permits starting at $145 per semester for students living on the Salt Lake City campus, which totals $290 per academic year.
On the other end of the spectrum, the University of Pennsylvania charges $2,271 per academic year for students living on the Philadelphia campus.
The price of a parking permit depends on various factors:
  • The size and location of your school
  • The availability of parking spots on campus
  • The type of pass you need—students who need a 24-hour permit typically pay more than students who only commute to campus for the day
Key Takeaway A school parking permit could potentially cost you thousands of dollars a year—something many students don’t consider before deciding to bring their car to college.

Con: A car is an extra responsibility

You take on many more responsibilities when you move out and start living on your own in college. A car definitely adds to that list.
College car owners need to stay on top of the usual gas and maintenance needs, as well as worry about things like theft and vandalism, which are common on many college campuses.
Additionally, some colleges have limited parking availability, which means that you could spend a portion of each day circling the block after class. This can get tiring and might make you think twice about using your car to get around.
Finally, there can be an added level of pressure to drive friends or roommates around campus whenever they need a ride. Being the designated chauffeur will make you a saint among your friend group, but it can feel like a burden and a distraction—especially when you’re overloaded with homework but feel bad about saying no.

Can I survive without a car?

It depends on the school, so it’s always a good idea to do your research before you arrive. Here’s what you should consider:
Your options for getting around
Plenty of college students easily get around campus by walking, biking, or skateboarding. If you live on or near campus, these options will probably be sufficient for your day-to-day life.
When you want to venture farther away from your dorm or apartment, there are other options available.
Whether your school offers transportation discounts
Many colleges make an effort to provide free or discounted transportation options for students. See if your college offers bus or shuttle services to get around campus.
If you go to school in a city, see if you can get a discount when riding public buses, subways, or trains. Many public transportation systems offer reduced fares or even free rides for students.
Rideshare options like Uber and Lyft are also popular, although the fares can add up—especially if you’re traveling longer distances.
How many students have cars
Lastly, it’s a good idea to find out what percentage of your college’s student body will have a car on campus. If the majority of students have cars, the odds of befriending a car owner are in your favor.
Although you shouldn’t rely on this, it might be comforting to know that you could probably hitch a ride in case of an emergency.
Key Takeaway For the most part, you can probably survive by walking or biking. For longer treks, many schools help students out with free or low-cost transportation options.

Finding cheap car insurance for college students

If you decide to bring your car to college, let Jerry help you save money on your car insurance.
After providing you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, Jerry will handle the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals for your top pick so that you don’t have to. Jerry can even help cancel your old policy!
So why do all that extra work when Jerry can do it better? The average user saves $897 per year on their car insurance!
“I’m a college student and I was struggling to find cheap car insurance. I was just about to buy insurance when I saw the Jerry ad. It literally saved me over $300 compared to what I would’ve purchased.” —Talia B.
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Is it worth having a car in college?

Ultimately, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of bringing a car to college. A car will give you more freedom and flexibility, but you’ll also pay a steeper price and have to worry about one more thing.
If you plan on leaving campus frequently and the rideshare or public transportation options just won’t cut it, bringing your car might be the best idea for you.
On the flip side, if you’re trying to save money and you know that you can get around with alternate forms of transportation, you can feel confident starting college without a car.

What is the most reliable car for college students?

The list of the best cars for college students from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is an excellent resource. Considering factors like ownership costs, safety, technology, and practicality, KBB ranks both new and used cars and SUVs, as well as cars and SUVs under $15,000.
Their top overall pick was the 2021 Toyota Corolla, starting at $20,780. It’s an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick with safety features like forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane centering.
KBB’s top pick for best car for college students under $15,000 was the Toyota Camry (2012 to 2014 models), priced between $10,600 and $14,200. These sedans feature high fuel efficiency and have excellent reliability and safety records.
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