Attending college can be an exciting time for both students and their parents. For many students, it is their first real step toward an independent life, but that comes with new responsibilities and decisions. One of the many decisions they may need to make is whether or not to bring their car to campus. Each student’s needs are different, and while having a car on campus can be essential for some, it might not be useful or cost-effective for others. If you do choose to bring your car to college, you may need to review your carrier and coverage selections to get the most cost-effective policy possible.

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Should college students bring a car to school?

Whether you bring your car to school with you will depend on where you live, your transportation needs and your budget. In some cases—for example, if the student has an off-campus job—it may be necessary. For others, especially those that attend college in a larger city with adequate public transportation, it may be an unnecessary expense. First-year students may also want to check with college officials before bringing their car on campus, since some institutions don’t allow freshmen to have cars on campus.

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Pros of bringing a car to college

  • Makes it easy to run errands and get to appointments
  • Increased access to off-campus jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities
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Cons of bringing a car to college

  • Registration, insurance and parking permits may be more expensive in your new city
  • Vehicle maintenance can add stress to busy students' schedules

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 Average full coverage premium on parents’ policy Average full coverage premium on own policy
Age 18 $4,797 $7,499
Age 19 $4,197 $5,946
Age 20 $3,962 $5,443
Age 21 $3,506 $4,333

How can college students save on car insurance?

The cost of car insurance is rapidly increasing across the country, and college students on tight budgets may be feeling the strain on their wallets. Even though young adults typically pay high insurance rates, there are a few strategies that may help you save on your premium. First and foremost, shop around to compare quotes and see if any other carrier could offer you a better rate on your coverage. From there, you can explore the following strategies:

Maintain a clean driving record

Accidents and tickets can rapidly drive up the cost of coverage for college students who already pay elevated rates. Avoiding tickets and accidents demonstrates to insurers that you are a safe driver and may help bring down your rates more quickly as you age. Even if you have a ticket or accident on your record already, avoiding future infractions will save you money in the long run.

Look for car insurance discounts for college students

Finding the best and most affordable car insurance for college students can mean balancing coverage and taking advantage of special car insurance discounts for college 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

    • Generally speaking, the car insurance policy would defer to insurance rules of the state where the accident occurred. For more specifics, it can be helpful to speak to an agent that is local to the college to learn more about that state’s insurance rules and regulations. Additionally, make sure that your auto insurance policy correctly reflects where your student lives and where the car is parked.
    • Car insurance coverage follows the car, not the driver. This means that if anyone drives your car and causes an accident, it’s your policy that would pay for the damages. For this reason, it may not be the best idea to allow others to drive the car.
    • That depends on the rules of the particular scholarship. Some scholarships are intended only to be used for tuition, books and other costs directly related to the student’s educational experiences. Other scholarships may be less structured, with the only requirement being that it be used by the student while they are in college. The best way to know for sure is for the student to speak to a financial aid professional at their school to help them determine the limits of the scholarship’s coverage.
    • Yes, you should. If your child will no longer be on your policy but will instead be purchasing their own insurance, you are likely to save money by removing them from your policy. If they are staying on your policy, but are not bringing a car to campus, you may earn a discount if the college they are attending is a certain number of miles away from home—usually 100. If your child is taking a car to campus with them and staying on your policy, it is still important to call your agent to give them the student’s address and let them know where the car will be garaged.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2024 rates for 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 2022 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.