Tips for Parents

9 Reasons to Leave Your Car at Home During College

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Are you trying to decide if you should bring your car to campus? Almost every student and parent we talked to recommended leaving your car at home freshman year. Here are the top reasons why:

1. Parking isn’t available

Most campuses don’t have enough parking spaces. Even if you’re able to find a parking space, parking is often very expensive and inconvenient. You may need to purchase a parking permit, or pay by the hour for the parking spot. If you do choose to park on campus, know the rules and the different types of parking spots — staff parking only, visitor lots, permit parking only, etc., because tickets for breaking these rules is costly. Rose Gaherty wished they hadn’t sent their student with a car because of the parking fines and lack of parking. “We ended up paying the university BIG bucks for two tickets that weren’t paid in a timely fashion, on top of BIG bucks for parking permits that don’t guarantee an available spot within miles of the dorm…just say no! Wish we had.” Rose said.

2. Having a car is expensive

Besides the extra expense of parking, AAA estimates that you’d save nearly $5,000 by leaving your car at home. You won’t have to pay for gas, standard maintenance, insurance, or other miscellaneous expenses, such as traffic tickets. Some insurance companies even offer an added discount if your student leaves their car at home. Check with your insurance provider for details. Liberty Mutual offers a “Student Away at School Discount,” for teens that reside at a school more than 100 miles from your home and only occasionally drive your vehicle.

3. Zipcar makes car sharing easy

There are so many easy and convenient alternatives to car ownership. If a student needs to use a car to run errands, Zipcar is a great option. Available at more than 600 campuses, Zipcar’s membership enables students to rent cars whenever they need.  Join Zipcar for only $15 a year. Grab a Zipcar near campus. Cars by the hour or day. Gas and insurance included. Join at

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4. Use Public Transportation

Many colleges provide students with a free or deeply discounted public transportation pass. According to, “college students who live on or near campus are uniquely positioned to enjoy the benefits of public transportation, given the centralized locale in which most of their activities occur.” Click here to read,How Public Transportation Can Save Students Time and Money.”

5. Availability of Other Transportation Options

Besides using Zipcar or public transportation, there are many other transportation options, such as Uber, Lyft or Amtrak. Uber and Lyft are available on many campuses, and allow students to request and pay for a ride via their smartphone app. Amtrak offers a college student discount program. Students ages 13 – 25 with a valid student ID are eligible for 15% off the lowest Value or Flexible Fare when they book travel at least 3 days in advance of their trip.

6. Freshmen aren’t allowed to have cars on campus

Because of the congestion on most college campuses and the lack of parking, many schools do not allow freshmen to bring their car to campus. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) provides a list of 56 institutions that have first year student car bans. Check with your school’s Parking and Transportation Office to find out if cars are allowed on your campus.

7. Most students won’t have a car

According to US News, about 49 percent of students bring and keep cars at school. Since most students, especially freshmen, don’t bring a car to campus, if you do bring one, you may be frequently asked if others can borrow it. Monica Romero Matthews had this experience. She did not allow her two oldest children to have a car freshman year. “When I was a freshman in college I was THE driver because my new friends were not allowed to bring a car to school,” Monica said. Make a plan about how to handle these requests – and if you do let friends borrow your car, be clear about your expectations and about what to do if they’re in an accident.

8. Campuses are designed for walking

Even if you find a parking spot on campus, most parking is not located near the classrooms, because most campuses have been designed for students to walk. The U.S. Surgeon General recently highlighted colleges’ and universities’ opportunity to promote walking by creating pedestrian-friendly campuses and adopting policies that encourage walking. Learn more about the #StepItUp campaign.

9. You may miss out on what’s happening on campus

While it may be tempting to leave campus for dinner or to pick up groceries, this may mean missing out on what’s happening. Getting involved on campus and participating in the university’s events is a critical part of the college experience. In Alexander Astin’s book, What matters in college: four critical years revisited, research shows that engagement is positively linked to better grades while involvement with community service has a positive effect on student’s overall development.

Become a Zipcar member now!

Related Content:

Zipcar for College Students

How Zipcar Solves Students’ Transportation Needs


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Note: This post contains affiliate links. UniversityParent may receive compensation for any users that sign up for Zipcar using these links. While this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own. Click here to learn more about our sponsored content.

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