Car ownership while attending college — Make the decision to own a car with confidence


At the planning stage, the college experience dances through the mind with visions of coursework, study time and parties in the dorm. The thought of traveling off campus may not come to mind initially, but it will likely be a part of the reality of college life. To avoid spotty transportation, or needing to bum rides off classmates and friends, car ownership may be the right choice for you. It is important to weigh your options, understand the top purchase considerations and review car ownership tips to move into this decision with confidence. Here’s what you need to know.

Taking a close look at your available transportation options

While attending college, you may need to pick up a part time job or attend community events for extra credit in your courses. You may also want to enjoy a night out with friends to blow off some steam after completing tough projects or exams. To take a quick or extended jaunt off campus, you will need to tap into the public or private transportation options available near your campus.

If available, you can ask for a ride from your friends, utilize ride-sharing apps or rent a bicycle to complete your travels. Walking is also an option if you have the time and energy to make it to your destination on time. If the drawbacks to each alternative transportation method outweigh the benefits, however, purchasing a car while in college might be your best bet.

Finding and acquiring your ideal vehicle

You must determine your main reasons for wanting to buy a car while in college to identify the best vehicle configuration for you. If you want to utilize a vehicle to pick up a part time construction job, for example, a light truck may suit your needs best. For a vehicle well suited to trips with friends, shopping excursions and work commutes, a hatchback or SUV could fit the bill.

After selecting the best type of vehicle for college, you should identify the features you want most. Make a list with the top features, such as backup cameras for tough parking situations or automatic climate controls for the ultimate driving comfort, to narrow down your vehicle choices. Complete your comparison shopping online to find your top three vehicle options, and then schedule test drives for each model to find your perfect car, truck or SUV.

Tips for owning a car while in college

Owning a car in college is not all fun and games in the end. Before you complete your vehicle purchase, make sure to shop around for the best insurance rates and make parking arrangement on or off campus. The time you put into securing these arrangements will pay off in dividends through decreased costs for monthly insurance premiums and parking fees.

You must properly complete maintenance on schedule and handle all imminent repairs in a timely manner to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape year after year. You can avoid costly surprise repairs by placing a set amount of money in your savings account well before you decide to purchase a car. Continue putting the money away in savings each month to cover your car ownership expenses while attending college.

Since prep work is everything when it comes to the car purchase and ownership experience, make sure to do your homework before forging ahead with this decision. Review the information in Cars & College: A Complete Guide to learn all you need to know about determining if you are a good car ownership candidate, buying a car for college and keeping your vehicle in excellent condition.

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