By Samuel Sprague
State and Local Public Policy Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Having a car on campus can feel liberating. The ability to get away from campus (e.g. for running errands, catching a break from the campus scenery, eating out) makes it seem like a golden investment. For commuters, it is an open-and-shut case. Driving your car to college is usually much cheaper than ride sharing and less exhausting than walking to campus from a bus stop. For campus residents, the question is more difficult to answer. The costs, responsibilities and alternatives to keeping your car on campus are all important things to consider.
The cost of bringing a car to college can vary between students. Parking fees will range in price depending on the student’s assigned lot, but a fee of $20-$150 is not the cost to worry about. Car maintenance and insurance fees make up the bulk of the expenses. The costs of these are difficult to pin down since it will vary for students based on the reliability of their car and whether insurance is being covered by their parents or themselves.
The responsibilities of caring for a car properly can be a lot of pressure for a full-time student. Keeping track of the car’s many components (brakes, battery, gasoline, oil, spark plugs, tire health, etc.) can be a serious problem for students who might not find themselves leaving campus often or struggling to keep up with the financial demands of a car.
Many students drive their own cars to campus to move themselves in with the plan to drive their belongings back for the summer. Student drivers might find a financial buffer to the costs of keeping a car by offering to carpool and split gas. Students who do not stay on campus in the summer or are not planning to drive around frequently can benefit from this as well.
Students should be sure to take their time in deciding to bring a car at college until they have thought about the costs and benefits. For many students the occasional Uber or carpooling with a friend can be much more affordable.
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