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Moving into college can be an exciting experience. From making the perfect packing list to choosing new bedsheets, it’s a first step towards independence. But while bringing a car might be on that list, it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether the family car is being taken out-of-state or to an in-state college, parents and students should be aware of the extra expenses and responsibilities that come with bringing a car to college.

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Should college students bring a car to college?

Having a car in college has several advantages. Simple tasks like running errands and buying groceries are more convenient with a car. There’s also the freedom to explore nearby areas and cities outside of classes and on the weekends. For some students, having a car also means widening their radius when it comes to job, internship and volunteer opportunities. Keep in mind that bringing a car does mean an additional expense, as most colleges require purchasing a permit for on-campus parking.

The decision to bring a car to college largely depends on personal needs and budget, as well as where the college campus is located. A centrally-located university near public transportation, as well as rideshare and meal delivery options should make it easy for many to get by without a car. For many first-year college students, it’s likely they won’t know yet if they’ll need a car in college, but knowing what comes with bringing a car to college can help with the decision.

Can a college student stay on their parents’ car insurance?

In most cases, young drivers can stay on their parents’ car insurance while attending a college out-of-state. For instance, if the car they’re bringing is registered in a parent’s name and they still go home during holiday breaks, students can usually stay on their family car insurance policy.

If this is the case, make sure that the garaging ZIP code of the car is updated to the new address in the car insurance policy. This applies whether the student is attending college out-of-state or in-state and living on-campus. You’ll probably also want to check what the state DMV regulations are for bringing in vehicles out-of-state to see if there are any special rules or requirements when it comes to car insurance for students.

How much does car insurance cost for students?

Drivers under 25 face some of the most expensive car insurance premiums compared to all other age groups. College students can likely reduce their cost of car insurance by qualifying for specific discounts and, if they are dependents, staying on their family car insurance policy. Below is a comparison of car insurance for college students on their parents’ car insurance compared to individuals of the same age who aren’t students and are on their own policy:

Age group On parents’ policy, with student discounts applied Own policy, with no student discounts applied
Age 18 $3,352 $5,320
Age 19 $2,929 $4,130
Age 20 $2,758 $3,782
Age 21 $2,426 $3,005

Car insurance discounts for students

Finding the best car insurance for students can mean balancing coverage and taking advantage of special car insurance discounts for students. On average, drivers under the age of 25 pay some of the highest car insurance premiums, so these discounts could offer great saving opportunities. Popular car insurance discounts for students include:

  • Good student discount: Students that maintain a high GPA can typically qualify for this discount. Each car insurance company may have its own threshold, but it’s normally at least a 3.0 GPA or B-average.
  • Enrolling in a safe driving course: By completing a qualifying safe driving course and receiving a certificate, an extra discount can usually be added to the policy with many companies. Check with your insurance carrier to see what may be offered.
  • Telematics discount: To combat some of the high rates young drivers face, taking advantage of a telematics program might be helpful if your company offers it. Drivers who participate can earn discounts based on real-time safe driving habits.
  • Affiliation discounts: Joining different clubs and organizations in college can be a great experience. Some, like fraternities and sororities, also often offer discounts on car insurance. Each car insurance company’s affiliations differ, so it’s a good idea to check with yours to see where this type of discount may apply.

While the distant student discount (also called a student-away-from-home discount) is a popular car insurance discount for students, it only applies if they do not bring their family car to college. The student also needs to attend a school a certain number of miles away from home.

Frequently asked questions

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2022 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2020 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the ages 18-21 (base: 40 years) applied. Depending on age, drivers may be a renter or homeowner. Age is not a contributing rating factor in Hawaii and Massachusetts due to state regulations.