Cars in college

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psteinx
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Cars in college

Post by psteinx » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:17 pm

Trying to plan a bit for the years ahead. Currently have 2 HS drivers, one going to college next fall, the other the following fall, with a 3rd kid reaching driving age in a few years. Trying to estimate who will need/want cars, when. FWIW, we're in the St. Louis suburbs, with very weak public transport options to our house.

Anyways, trying to get a handle on what's normal (more or less) for certain college situations.

Oldest kid will be attending Wash U (WUSTL) next fall. It's an urban campus, relatively compact, with, I think, good public transport options, a major urban park very close, and the usual college hangouts. Freshmen live on campus, and are, I think, generally not allowed cars. Beyond freshman year, it seems there is a general migration to various nearby off-campus housing options, though staying on campus is viable for sophomore year, at least. (I think.) We are local to WUSTL - about a 25 minute drive.

Second oldest will be going off the following fall. Current frontrunner is Georgia Tech - urban, but more sprawling, campus in/near Atlanta. Not local, obviously - but presumably an easy flight (lots of connections).

My current thinking is that oldest (WUSTL) *probably* won't need a car for any of her 4 years, albeit will likely need access to one in the summers, for jobs, internships, etc. My thinking is that 2nd (Georgia Tech, maybe) will be more likely to have a college car, at least from sophomore year on. Easier to get to school, and Georgia Tech is, IIRC, a bit more sprawling.

Back in the dark ages when I went to college, I had a car from 2nd year on. Distant location, smaller college town with indirect airline connections, somewhat sprawling campus. A car also made it easier for me to be a Big Brother (would have been *much* more tricky using local public transport there), provided good access to shopping (including groceries), some road trips, and some other uses. My recollection is that, for out-of-state kids in particular, cars were relatively common (though not universal).

That said, we're now in the era of Uber/Lyft, and maybe a less car-focused culture generally for teenagers (though both of these two older kids do currently drive). Getting to/from school should be easier for both, sans car, but I wonder if they'll likely want one anyways for general uses, plus internships, co-ops or the like during the school year. Obviously, I'm somewhat ahead of myself relative to the specific time(s) of need, but it is at least somewhat useful for planning...
Last edited by psteinx on Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:24 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Cars in college

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:20 pm

My decision with my college students and cars was an easy one:
1) If you are commuting to college you get a car. (What I save on paying more for room/board covers the car cost).
2) If you are living at college (and I am paying room/board) you don't get a car.

bloom2708
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Re: Cars in college

Post by bloom2708 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:27 pm

Our oldest will be attending about 20 minutes from home. She will have her car. It will either sit at our house or at her dorm her first year.

The car might be more useful to the kid living closer as then they can come home or get to work without needing a ride. The kid attending farther away might be able to live self contained on campus. Dorms close for the various breaks. I assume a car could just sit on campus if the kid flies home for a longer break.

No easy answer. Will the cars sit unused? Will they be sold? Passed down to the next kid?
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Jack FFR1846
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:30 pm

There are lots of considerations and potential options. Is there a shuttle on campus? Is there a sponsored zip car available (my son's college has Ford sponsored zip cars....zero subscription fee, just the hourly rate). If in a city, subways and busses (I'm thinking Boston or NYC). What about campus parking? I'm sure you're not going to be happy with $300 a month from a Beacon Hill parking garage near school but maybe a $50 per year pass is not worth worrying about. A prime consideration is understanding that the car very likely can get trashed. Drunk frat boys walking by might have a "key the car" contest or decide to have a dance off on the hood. A good test is that if you're ok with the broken down car being abandoned....just bring home the plates.....that's a good college car (my room mate back in college actually did this).
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texasdiver
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Re: Cars in college

Post by texasdiver » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:48 pm

fourth factor is student jobs.

My daughter is a sophomore at a large university in a college town. Technically she could survive easily without a car if college life was the only part of the equation. But she is also working off campus as a nanny on a daily basis. She uses her car to pick up two kids from school at 3 in the afternoons for an affluent family, takes them home, and then supervises them until the parents get home around 6. For this she is paid very well and still has most of the time to do her own studying. She would be unable to do this job at all without a car as the house is about 10 miles away from her apartment.

Liberty1100
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Liberty1100 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:59 pm

If living on campus, I wouldn't give them a car for their first two years. College is a pressure-cooker for bad decisions and there's super easy access to drugs and alcohol. For at least the first two years, everyone is trying to "be cool" and you don't really get to know your friends. Keep them from making any (more) bad decisions such as DUI or getting pulled over with a friend that has drugs on them, by not allowing them to have a car for the first two years, at least.

Moolala
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Moolala » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:01 pm

I really doubt that Georgia Tech requires a car. MARTA transit in Atlanta is very easy to use, and the Georgia Tech campus is not only compact (and beautiful), but within an easy walk/public transit trip of grocery stores and other necessities in addition to one of the most trendy and enjoyable parts of Atlanta. As in other decent-sized cities, it's more economical to walk/uber/bus/metro than to park.
I attended a rural school and never needed a car. Nor did I want one. With meal plan and "main street" very close to my dorm, I had everything and didn't want more expenses. But my brother couldn't stand to do the same. He likes being able to get away from campus every now and then. Really a matter of perspective/ individual needs. :)
Last edited by Moolala on Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

malabargold
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Re: Cars in college

Post by malabargold » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:03 pm

Freshman year, absolutely not.

See how it goes, and decide from there.

These days with Uber and Lyft cars on campus are needed
less than ever, and could spare a lot of problems.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Cars in college

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:07 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:48 pm
fourth factor is student jobs.

My daughter is a sophomore at a large university in a college town. Technically she could survive easily without a car if college life was the only part of the equation. But she is also working off campus as a nanny on a daily basis. She uses her car to pick up two kids from school at 3 in the afternoons for an affluent family, takes them home, and then supervises them until the parents get home around 6. For this she is paid very well and still has most of the time to do her own studying. She would be unable to do this job at all without a car as the house is about 10 miles away from her apartment.
The question I have here is does the job pay/earn more than enough to pay for the car? If yes - then no reason for the parent to provide the car (student can pay for it with job). It not - then why have the job only to support "Part" of the car?

livesoft
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Re: Cars in college

Post by livesoft » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:50 pm

My kids didn't have cars. Both lived off campus after freshman year. One had a job on-campus. The other an internship off-campus. Somehow they figured it out.

My advice is: Do not worry about it and see what happens. Both my kids figured out how to use Uber and other means if needed.
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DrGoogle2017
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Re: Cars in college

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:57 pm

No car the first year for both kids. They used Zip car. But they did have a car the second year when they move off campus, but I think Uber is fine too.

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Alexa9
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Alexa9 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:57 pm

If they need more than a bicycle they're too far from campus.

runner3081
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Re: Cars in college

Post by runner3081 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:00 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:20 pm
My decision with my college students and cars was an easy one:
1) If you are commuting to college you get a car. (What I save on paying more for room/board covers the car cost).
2) If you are living at college (and I am paying room/board) you don't get a car.
Good points, though the city/college can increase/decrease the need for a vehicle.

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Kenkat
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Kenkat » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:11 pm

Are they driving something now or are the cars shared? I found once my kids got to the college point, they needed a car - although they both commute to local colleges so that does change things. But they also both have jobs that they need to drive to as well.

psteinx
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Re: Cars in college

Post by psteinx » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:15 pm

Right now we have 3 vehicles for 4 drivers.

elcadarj
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Re: Cars in college

Post by elcadarj » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:18 pm

If you do supply a car, I recommend that it have a manual transmission. No one else will borrow it. And that it is small enough so that your GT student doesn’t end up being the group chauffeur.

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eye.surgeon
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Re: Cars in college

Post by eye.surgeon » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:22 pm

My senior has had a car the whole time in a suburban campus. She likes the freedom and is extremely responsible. 6 year old honda civic she got new in high school and will probably have another 4 years to meet the boglehead-required 10 years.AFter 6 years she only has 35k miles on it.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Doom&Gloom » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:54 pm

DD had a car for four years at a school ~100 miles from home. Freshman year required to live in a dorm; other three years off-campus due to lack of dorm space. No issues other than a speeding ticket.

DS is attending college ~150 miles from home and has had a car since his freshman year when he lived in a dorm. Required to live off-campus since then due to lack of dorm space. One speeding ticket and one minor issue which was a good life lesson (not driving recklessly or under the influence obviously).

College students having a car around here is a way of life. The vast majority do--at least at the two schools our kids attended. Our kids had been driving quite a bit for a couple of years prior to going to college so they weren't just turned loose with little driving experience.

sailaway
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Re: Cars in college

Post by sailaway » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:00 pm

What are the school policies? Many schools do not have parking near the freshman dorms. I have seen cases where it is easier to walk into town than to the car

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lthenderson
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Re: Cars in college

Post by lthenderson » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:22 pm

I had a car all four years of college and looking back it definitely wasn't necessary and actually quite a bit of a hassle. When I went, anybody living on campus had to park their vehicle in the various stadium parking lots which not only were a long ways away but had to be moved fairly regularly for home games, concerts and such. Once those events were over, you had to make another long trip out there to move it back before the free weekend parking was over. That leads to the second pain, parking. Everywhere in a college town is restricted parking and it took lots of time and effort to figure out where to park that car when driving to campus so that one wouldn't get a ticket. By the time I found an open parking spot that I was allowed to park in, usually quite far from where I needed to be, most of the time I could have walked to campus or waited for the bus and rode it to campus in the same amount of time so that is what I did. When I moved off campus to an apartment building, my car stayed there all the time unless I was driving home for the weekend.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Cars in college

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:27 pm

Public transportation in ATL is much better than in STL. You can get by without a car, but will need to pick housing carefully. Uber is available, that should cover most needs that are off the main rail and bus lines.

smitcat
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Re: Cars in college

Post by smitcat » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:45 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:48 pm
fourth factor is student jobs.

My daughter is a sophomore at a large university in a college town. Technically she could survive easily without a car if college life was the only part of the equation. But she is also working off campus as a nanny on a daily basis. She uses her car to pick up two kids from school at 3 in the afternoons for an affluent family, takes them home, and then supervises them until the parents get home around 6. For this she is paid very well and still has most of the time to do her own studying. She would be unable to do this job at all without a car as the house is about 10 miles away from her apartment.
I am impressed that you could get liability insurance that covers transportation such as that.

snowox
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Re: Cars in college

Post by snowox » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:43 pm

I'm in this boat now with actually 2 in their Freshman Year as one graduated early and both at out of state schools. As you mentioned both schools they have to live on campus freshman year and most students migrate off sophmore year. So i currently have 2 cars in my driveway. Ones my son is 12 hours away the other my daughter 4-5hrs away. Both of mine are on Athletic Scholarships One 100% the other after freshman fall season got 100% so we wrote morals clauses that allowed them enough lattitude to express themselves etc... but there are limits like one tatoo is allowed after sophmore year the size of a credit card in an area that can be covered we made a drawing, no piercings or gauges etc... Then there are grade point incentives, drug and alcohol requirements by team, meeting coaches requirements etc...In signing this they get their cars. If the break the Morals clause depending on the consequences or if they lose there scholarship then they lose out everything from us as well. Bottom line I have 4 kids all going to college and I dont want to be a helicopter parent so this allows me to allow them to have it all be on them. It also includes rules with the cars. We supported them all these years in their sport so by having these expectations that are reasonable they can fit in and do things but not to the extreme. They both were very appreciative of the lattitude, it led to good conversations from partying to sex and they both wanted/were willing and appreciated signing. Were early in the game but like I said the parenting is in the paper. So I will help them if they help themselves.

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Re: Cars in college

Post by daveydoo » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:13 pm

Have two in undergrad and neither has car or misses one -- one in a very urban setting and one in a quintessential and populous "college town."

A car won't be needed at the places you're describing. If kid's desperate for a car, he/she can just come home from WashU, right? The bigger, higher-profile schools like you're talking about have these things worked out with campus buses, airport shuttles, public transportation nodes, etc. One of my kids borrows an in-state friend's car when she's desperate. Other kid uses ZipCar occasionally (got us at the airport!). They may use Lyft or Uber depending upon time of day, ambient temperature, and (presumably) blood-alcohol level. They both drove incessantly through high school -- beach, ski trips, music festivals -- but neither is pining for a car in college.

Edit: you will also miss out on the very nice auto insurance credit you get -- I think you have to go to school a certain number of miles away from "home." For my kids, it was a very substantial savings, and they're still covered for all of their incidental driving and for when they are home on break and if they're home in the summer.
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Barefoot
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Barefoot » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:22 pm

We gave our kids hand-me-down cars for years 2-4. Lots of worries about "friends" borrowing the car and so on, but it worked out in the end.

It was nice not having to go get them for trips home, and they could expand their radius for part time and summer jobs.

Both are out on their own now. We got both cars back in one piece. Sold one to Carmax after a while, the other I'm still driving most days.

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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Cars in college

Post by MikeWillRetire » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:28 pm

My two sons are in the University of Maryland, one is a senior and one is a sophomore. Living on campus, they have no need for a car. Skateboards and bikes suffice.

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Pajamas
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Pajamas » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:35 pm

Even on a sprawling but urban campus like Georgia Tech, a car is more of a liability than an asset for a student living on campus. Parking can be expensive on a college campus these days and apparently is restricted by location and/or hours at that school.

https://pts.gatech.edu/permits-payment#node-289

Like most large schools, they have various forms transportation for students on campus and MARTA is within easy walking distance. See the top of that page for more information.

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Watty
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Watty » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:58 pm

livesoft wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:50 pm
My advice is: Do not worry about it and see what happens.
+1

It is too hard to predict how things will work out and what will be needed.

Pigeon
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Pigeon » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:59 pm

My oldest is a junior and hasn't wanted the responsibility of having a car, although that will probably change next year. My younger will be a freshman next year and her school doesn't allow freshmen or sophomores to have cars. Most college campuses are designed for residential life and for environmental as well as financial reasons we haven't encouraged them to have cars...

Y.A.Tittle
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Y.A.Tittle » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:44 am

Uber has made cars less necessary for college, especially for an urban campus. The hassle and cost of parking should be considered.

If a child is living off campus and needs to do the "chores of life," like going to the grocery store, and the distances are not short, a car may be more needed. If the campus is not urban, another vote for having a car.

It goes without saying that any on-campus car would be something used but reliable.

ncbill
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Re: Cars in college

Post by ncbill » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:13 pm

I was very sad that my youngest didn't get into their first choice for undergraduate since that school allows only seniors to have vehicles. :)

My oldest couldn't have a vehicle (on or off campus) until their "junior" year.

Not sure about it yet for the young'un.
Last edited by ncbill on Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Kenkat
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Kenkat » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:34 pm

psteinx wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:15 pm
Right now we have 3 vehicles for 4 drivers.
Ah, that’s how I got my Camaro. My wife said he’s really gonna need a car for college commuting and work, maybe you should get something else. My youngest son got my 2005 Camry, I got a 2014 CPO at a good price. Only one initial “no” before she said “oh, just go ahead”. :happy

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Cars in college

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:55 pm

Kenkat wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:34 pm
psteinx wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:15 pm
Right now we have 3 vehicles for 4 drivers.
Ah, that’s how I got my Camaro. My wife said he’s really gonna need a car for college commuting and work, maybe you should get something else. My youngest son got my 2005 Camry, I got a 2014 CPO at a good price. Only one initial “no” before she said “oh, just go ahead”. :happy
Almost exactly how I got my fun car, except that it was obvious to both of us that he would need a car. He got my 2004 Toyota Solara his senior year in HS and it has lasted him nearly four years so far--longer than we expected. I was afraid DW would offer her Altima first, and I would be stuck with the Solara for a while longer, so I made a pre-emptive strike! :beer

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Cars in college

Post by jabberwockOG » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:21 pm

Our youngest child's car driven for last 2 years of HS sits at home while they attend college. Lives very near campus and uses a bike or good old fashioned legs to get around the large urban campus. The parking fees on campus as well as additional fees for an apartment complex parking slot are extremely high. Does use the car on breaks at home and for summer employment/internships. The 2 year old compact sedan we purchased should last thru college and hopefully additional 2-3 years of grad school, if they choose that path.

likegarden
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Re: Cars in college

Post by likegarden » Thu May 31, 2018 6:52 pm

Our son decided to go to a local college while living at home, needed to drive an expressway, so years ago we gave him a new Chevy Beretta 6 cyl for the reason of surviving a crash on that expressway (extra HP to get away and extra steel as protection). Our 15 year old grandson now thinks about driving a car, so I will give him this thread to read - good info.

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