The time has finally come for your baby to make the big leap from your nest into the vast world of college. Books, classes, meal plans, and living arrangements can add up quickly along with the fact that your student still must have a dependable means of transportation. Determining how your child will get around is perhaps one of the most important decisions that parents can make for a new college student. Not all college students will need a vehicle while away at school, but depending on location and other factors, your student may need one. If your student is going to get a car, it is vital to choose the best vehicle for the best price, safety options, and size.

Old Vs. New

One of the first things that parents must decide on upon purchasing a vehicle for their student is how much they are willing to pay for the car. With the seemingly endless number of expenses that come with going to college, parents have to be a bit creative when establishing a budget for the potential vehicle. Some things to consider in this situation are if you have room in your budget for an additional car note and insurance payment. If it is determined that there is no wiggle room in your monthly budget for an extra car payment, buying a used car may be the route to go.

However, if you believe that you have the additional room to afford this new expense, go for it.


Another factor that will be key in making this decision will be the size of the vehicle that your student needs. It is here where knowing who your student is will help you make your choice. Are they the type of person that is always out with multiple friends and/or equipment? Maybe a compact SUV would be the right choice. If they are of the more solitary type, smaller cars such as a Toyota Corolla may be worth considering.

Fuel Economy

Also, depending on the vehicle, fuel economy becomes a factor as well. Being able to save as much money as possible when traveling. If you plan on being the one to send money to cover transportation expenses, you will want to keep this number as manageable as you can. Gas expenses can add up quickly, especially with frequent traveling. Finding a car that can handle constant traveling is a necessity.


In addition to this, it is also important to think about how safe the vehicle is that your child will be driving. Sure, they may want to show up on campus with a mustang, but given the statistics on how young drivers between the ages of 18-25 take dangerous chances behind the wheel, going with vehicles that have a high safety rating is necessary.

Features such as blind-spot warning, backup camera and parking assist would all be helpful to provide you with the peace of mind that you seek. If your student will be living off campus it would provide you with a bit more peace of mind to know that you have taken extra precautions to keep your child safe.

Insurance Options

Depending on the location of the school, the type of car that you buy, and the driving habits of the person who will be behind the wheel, the insurance rates would be something to keep in mind. For instance, it may not be the best idea to send your student down to Miami with a Range Rover. For high traffic areas such as this, finding a vehicle that comes with reasonable insurance rates will also help to keep money in the pocket of the person that is paying for the vehicle.


Few things are as stressful as having a vehicle that is constantly in need of repairs. Be very careful if you decide to go the route of purchasing an older vehicle. The age, mileage, and accident history of the vehicle must all be checked prior to purchasing it.  If the point of having the vehicle is to simply get from their apartment to class, then it may be best to purchase an older vehicle that is not designed for long journeys. However, if it is decided that the vehicle will be used for heavy travel such as across state lines, it may be a good idea to buy a newer vehicle that does not require maintenance or repairs as frequently.


Naturally, if you are going to buy a car for your student, they would like to have their opinion valued in the conversation. Talk it out with them in order to find out what they like. Be sure to explain your reasoning behind your decisions as well. Show them the importance of managing their money, conserving fuel and being responsible with driving friends around. Talking things through together can really help everyone to decide on the best possible vehicle.

College is a time that is full of both tremendous excitement and uncertainty. Having proper transportation will eliminate a major concern from the long list of worries that parents typically have. Having this conundrum resolved can help ensure that the college experience is a wonderful time.