Most colleges and universities have vast student parking lots, sometimes unpaved areas on the outskirts of campus, generally poorly patrolled and supervised. Apartments near campus may also feature parking lots or nearby on-the-street parking.
The automobiles students bring to college quickly fill such parking places. And what could be more natural? Any young person anticipating the freedom of being on his own will also look forward to the convenience that comes with having a car.
But a vehicle at school also needlessly inflates college-related costs and educational debt. Consider:
- Parking Fees: One large university near us charges its students as much as $796 per year to park on campus. Increased borrowing to pay this fee for four years at today’s federal college loan interest rates can inflate the total amount repaid by more than $4,000.
- Maintenance and Upkeep: Gasoline, oil changes, and other auto-related expenses add up as the academic year goes along. Such costs can be deferred, if not skipped altogether, when your student’s car stays at home.
- Damage and Vandalism: Cars sitting on the street and in remote, under-supervised lots are more prone to damage — from hailstorms, slashed tires, frozen batteries, collisions if others carelessly reverse or cut corners too closely, etc. Sometimes your student may need to pay for a tow job to the nearest repair shop just to get his car working again.
Most campuses are either small enough to cross on foot or have shuttle bus systems that are free to their students. And the municipal transit systems in many college towns also allow students to ride free or at reduced rates.
Your student may ask, how will I ever get home if I don’t have my car? This may be valid. But reasonably-priced bus services and trains often run between your state’s major colleges and large metropolitan areas. And if public transportation isn’t available, your student can probably get a ride straight to your door by offering to share gasoline expenses with a fellow student.
Now if a student commutes from home or to a job at an off-campus location not served by public transportation, a car may be necessary. Otherwise, a vehicle at college is an expensive and unnecessary luxury. So counsel your student to cut his college costs by leaving those wheels at home!
College Affordability Solutions offers guidance on a wide array of strategies to keep higher education costs, and higher education borrowing, as low as possible. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 366-5354 for such guidance.