Subscribe

Car or no car on campus? It’ll cost you either way.

You’ll have to pay for parking, insurance and gas if you bring a car. And without one, you’ll need to budget for the alternative transportation. Before you decide, compare the costs of each option.

  • close
    An automated Ford Fusion hybrid.
    PR Newswire/Ford Motor Company
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

With another school year starting, you may be considering bringing a car to campus. It would make it convenient to get to your off-campus job or internship, and it would be nice to have for those late-night Taco Bell and fro-yo runs.

Of course, you’ll have to pay for parking, insurance and gas if you have a car. And without one, you’ll need to budget for the alternatives: buses, trains, cabs and ridesharing apps.

So before you decide whether to buy a campus parking pass or leave your car at home, compare the costs of each option.

Recommended: Four campuses where many low-income students are graduating

The costs of having a car on campus

First things first: Check with your school’s transportation office for details about the campus parking policies. Some schools, including Syracuse University and the University of Miami, don’t allow freshmen to bring cars.

If you get the go-ahead to bring a vehicle, here are some costs to prepare yourself for:

  • Parking fees: Many colleges require students to have a pass in order to park on campus. The passes can cost hundreds of dollars per semester, depending on your school and the location of your designated lot. On top of that, there can be replacement fees if you lose your pass, plus parking tickets, which you’re bound to get at least once.
  • Insurance: Generally, if you’re bringing your car to a school more than 100 miles from home, you need to notify your insurer. And if you’re bringing your car to an out-of-state school, you may need to adjust your insurance policy because auto insurance requirements vary by state. Depending on where you’re heading, the price of your policy could go up or down. You could end up saving money by switching to a new insurer, so compare car insurance quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Gas: Your gas costs will depend on how much you use your car. To offset them a bit, ask your friends to pitch in a few bucks if you find that you’re becoming the go-to driver in the group.

The costs of not having a car on campus

Leaving your car at home is not without its costs. Here are some expenses to expect:

  • Public transportation passes, cab fares and ridesharing apps: If a bus or subway is a convenient way to get around your campus or college town, look into prices for a monthly or annual pass. You may get lucky — students at the University of Michigan, for example, can ride city buses for free. And for a safe ride home after a night out, call a cab or book an Uber. If you plan to rely on this option regularly, budget for it; ridesharing apps especially can get pricey during peak hours.
  • Insurance: Even if you don’t bring a car to college, your parents will need to keep insurance on it. They may be able to get a discount on the policy since you won’t be driving regularly. Ask your insurer whether it offers a “student-away-at-school” discount. Companies including Liberty Mutual, State Farm and Travelers do.
  • Transportation home: Depending on how far you live from campus, you’ll need to figure out a way to get home for weekend visits and holiday breaks. Whether that’s chipping in $20 bucks for gas to catch a ride with a friend or booking a plane ticket, don’t forget to account for this cost when you’re doing the math.

Take 10 minutes to sit down, open your phone’s calculator app and do a rough calculation of what it would cost you to bring your car to college or leave it at home. There’s no wrong answer, as long as you make an informed decision.

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: teddy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @teddynykiel.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today College.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK