No Car On Campus Question

Hi everyone,

So at least two colleges I have applied to (that would require a car to get to) say that they don’t allow freshmen or sophomores to have cars on campus. So I understand that you wouldn’t be able to drive or park on the college campus, but if I had to bring one, would I just have to get permission to park elsewhere (in a public garage or something)? And if so, what would be the best place? Sorry if this is an obvious-answer type question, but I just want to make sure.


Hence the famous family drive to drop off the new college student that you have seen in too many movies!

The only person I know who managed this rented a space in a public parking lot on a monthly basis. I don’t know that it was worth it- or cost effective in the end.

Sometimes on the FB page for the college you are attending is a place you can ask if anyone is selling or renting parking space. AT one university page I know I’ve seen locals rents spaces on their property or students selling spaces they have but aren’t using.

However, I think it’s wise not to have a car as a freshman. First you will be busy. You also don’t want to wonder who your friends are. As one of the few freshman with a car it could be something you get “used” for. Just go with the flow and follow the rules.

Why would you have to bring one? There are usually exceptions for commuters. If you aren’t, just don’t bring your car, like all the others. There’s a good reason not to have a car as a freshman.

Your parents drop you off at the beginning of the year and pick you up at the end. Depending on how much they love you ? they pick you up for breaks or you take the bus/train home.

If you have extenuating circumstances (like a parent who is disabled and cannot drive) you can ask the college for special permission to have a car.

Are these urban colleges like Northeastern or Boston University. At schools like that an off campus parking space can cost $5000/semester.

At both of my kids’ colleges, freshman are allowed to bring cars, but parking is expensive and not necessarily right on campus.

One is in a big city with limited parking at premium prices, the other one in a smaller town with somewhat limited parking on campus, mostly for faculty and staff.

Students have to park at a lot some distance from campus.

Neither one brought a car. They have easy access to buses and campus shuttles, and the occasional Uber.

Owning a car, insurance, parking can be costly for a college student, and it’s not good to just let a car sit for months, so we picked them up and dropped them off and sometimes they got a ride home with a friend.

Are you commuting? The schools DS is looking at allow cars for freshman, but he’s still not going to take one. It seems like way too much of a hassle/expense. At the one school just the cost of a parking permit is more than taking a bus home 3 times a month.

I disagree with those who say a car isn’t a good idea freshmen year. I think it depends on the school, area, and person. But for those schools that won’t allow cars, simply don’t take a car. If it’s a matter of feeling trapped on campus without one, don’t go to those schools and pick one that will allow you to have your car. My daughter is used to having a car since where we live most kids get cars at 16. So she didn’t apply to any schools that wouldn’t allow cars freshman year or at all. She has had her car on campus since freshman year and I can’t imagine how kids live there without cars; I think those without cars at her school are in the minority.

I can see if it’s a place out in the middle of nowhere with no public transportation, but all the schools we’ve been to have buses going constantly that are either completely free to the students or annual passes are cheap for students. We’re from an area with no public transportation and kids all get cars at 16 as well, so we’re not real used to busing, but from what we’ve seen it seems very easy to navigate. Both of the schools we’re looking at have bus apps that show where all the buses are on all the routes and they run 7 days a week. If my son took a car it would just be sitting in the lot for weeks on end in the winter in sub-zero weather and probably wouldn’t start the couple times a semester he would use it to drive home.

@cshell2 The campus bus system at my D’s school works fine for campus travel and to some of the area apartment complexes. There is otherwise limited public transportation. My D lives less than a mile from campus and neither the campus shuttle or public bus goes there. So during the day, she walks or rides her bike. For evening activities or events, she goes and gets her car. She had a parking pass freshman year. Now she just limits her use of the car on campus to after hours when parking is free. Off campus, she uses the car regularly but Lyfts to get to or from on weekend nights. And her school is in a vibrant college town but a car is still almost a must. Seems to be what everyone does.

You can take a lot of uber rides for the cost of keeping a car on campus. Many kids, even with cars, prefer to use uber/lyft if attending off campus parties obviously.

If you do have a car at such schools you will be popular…for rides to Target.

also, most campuses have Zip (or similar) cars that enrolled students can use. One of my collegekids didn’t want to take a car: students parked in distant lots, but the Zip cars were in the lot by her dorm- and they were dug out after snowfalls!

“She has had her car on campus since freshman year and I can’t imagine how kids live there without cars”

Really? Every kid can afford a car? Gas, insurance, parking, maintenance?

My kids never had cars at college (or grad school) and bought cars in their 30’s once they could afford them. The insurance alone would have used up their entire discretionary budget for an entire year at college (so no entertainment, meals out, etc.) Where is this college where every single kid can afford a car?

@blossom I never said every kid. Getting beyond the immediate campus area is challenging without a car. Certainly those who can’t afford it don’t. Those without a car will find off-campus living (especially the cheapest options), job (if needed), and entertainment options more limited. I just asked my D and she said she’d estimate at least 50% have cars. Obviously parents are likely paying the cost of the car.

Agree with @itsgettingreal21 D is OOS and all of her roommates freshman year had cars- and they were all OOS as well. The few that didn’t were miserable. It really depends on where your school is. Not letting a freshman have a car sounds great until your kid decides to go 4-5 hours away and you have to make that drive back and forth twice. Our friends that have that situation were so glad their kids have cars now.

Zip cars do seem to be common now. There could be public parking that allows a monthly payment. When a school tells us a freshman can’t have a car, that’s a big negative for us.

@jeneric neither of my kids have cars. My junior is 3000 miles away and flies back and forth to school from home (her campus is 10 mins from the airport). My freshman is 5 hours from home - Amtrak station a mile from campus and drops him 30 minutes from home. He also has an upperclass teammate who lives in our area who offered him a ride home for Thanksgiving. Obviously not everyone has that option but it was definitely something that we considered when looking at schools. Frankly, I’m glad neither of my kids needs a car at school-it’s just an added expense and worry. Neither of them wanted to be in an area where a car was necessary.

@4kids4us I don’t blame you for not wanting to ship/drive a car across the country! My D is in Orlando- you want to get somewhere, you need to drive. She works, so she needs a car. Almost all of her friends work- they all have cars. Parking at her school is cheaper than it was in high school. I think it depends on the school and area. Mine drive everyday in high school, so it doesn’t bother me. I took my car to college as did a lot of my friends- no cell phones back then. I eventually ended up at Northeastern and no way did I take a car there!

The OP wants to bring a car- it’s not that unusual. I think every tour I have been on someone always asks about Freshman parking.

@jeneric Parking is cheap at my D’s college as well. Off campus parking is either cheap at the student apartment complexes or free.

Like everything else concerning college, there’s no one size fit all and need for/benefit of a car, parking, etc will vary. Everyone needs to do their research.