THE BLOG
09/08/2016 01:29 pm ET

Should You Bring Your Car to College?

The summer is over, meaning you're probably heading back to campus. You're maybe considering bringing your car with you this year. Having your car at college is exciting as it gives you the freedom to go just about anywhere you like. Underneath the liberation however may lay the cold hard truth that having your car at school can be a bigger inconvenience than benefit. Here are some factors you should consider before bringing the car to school.

Can You Afford It?

You, or your parents, are already paying a ton on your education, but did you know it's possible for your car could tack on another $6,000 to that! How do we figure? From a combination of gas prices, car repairs, parking permits and car insurance, can quickly snowball over a school year.

Insurance may hurt your wallet the most. If you remain on your parent's policy, and they are footing the bill, this may not be much of a problem. However, if you're getting your own car insurance plan, the costs will skyrocket. After analyzing hundreds of online quotes we found the average cost of full coverage car insurance for a 17-year-old driver is over $7,000. For a twenty year old, it's a bit cheaper at $3,994 per year. When it comes to car insurance, national averages aren't as useful as local results, since the price can fluctuate a lot between states and cities. College towns in North Carolina, for example, only had an average price of $873 per year. Compare that to Michigan where the average was $6,606 per year for a driver with the same profile. That's something to consider if you are a Tar Heel or a Wolverine.

Other pricing considerations include the cost of gas, how much it would take to repair the car in the event of something breaking down, and how much it will cost to park in the school. Driving to UPenn or Drexel, for example, could cost you upwards of $1,768 per year in parking. As a college student, extra money is a rare commodity, so think twice before spending it on your car.

Will It Be Convenient?

No one likes to drive in bad weather, especially snow. Unfortunately, many large college towns get pummeled every winter. If you go to a school like Syracuse in upstate New York, you may find yourself digging your car out on many cold winter days. You should also consider the increased risk of accidents caused by inclement weather.

Don't forget about parking. Like with everything else, this will be better or worse depending on the school you attend. At some colleges, it may be so hard to find a parking spot every day that you need to totally adjust your daily schedule in order to find one. Looking into your school's parking situation should definitely be something you consider before taking it to school with you. We recommend checking out online message boards or Facebook. If your school's parking situation is poor, it will be easy to find people complaining online.

Final Thoughts

Odds are you are not going to find the perfect school for bringing a car. You can have great weather, okay parking, but really expensive insurance. With so many factors involved, something is likely to go wrong. There will be a trade off somewhere, and ultimately it's up to you to decide what is most important.

Luckily for those who don't want to bring their car, some schools are set up in such a way that you don't really need one. If everything is centralized, you live in a big city with public transport, or the campus is small, you won't really need a car. If on the other hand, it takes at least thirty minutes to walk everywhere, there is a greater need for a car. So before you bring the car to campus, make sure you actually need it.

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