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Buying a Car for College: Should You Do It? «

Buying a Car for College: Should You Do It?

College Brings Many Choices to Students
A student’s acceptance and enrollment in a college or university is a huge step in his or her life, both personally and professionally. It also comes with a number of lifestyle changes from how the student is accustomed to spending his or her days. With the independence from parents or guardians inherent to spending time at a college or university comes the freedom to make decisions without significant guidance. This can be a liberating experience, but can also be harrowing initially as students cope with the increased responsibility that comes with independence. Not only are they free from parental influence, but students can choose their own classes (something many high school students are unable to do) and decide how to spend their leisure time. Another choice students have, if they are privy to the financial resources, is whether to purchase a car for their time attending college.

Benefits of Having a Car
A car is a machine that allows one to travel further distances than possible by walking and in an extremely shorter timeframe. This, in itself, is the benefit to having a car. A vehicle lets students get where they need to go quickly and without hassle. It can also give students the ability to go on short vacations on weekends to see attractions that are not within a reasonable distance of their college or university. Having a car allows students the freedom to choose where they want to go for dinner, what they want to do during the day, and not be constrained by the location of their desired activities.

Disadvantages of Having a Car
Most of the disadvantages that stem from having a car are the costs associated with the automobile. The initial investment to purchase a car can be considerable, regardless of whether it is paid in full or financed. Besides the actual cost of the vehicle, there are constant expenses associated with the maintenance and ownership of a car. It is illegal in the United States of America to operate a vehicle without at least liability insurance, so a student must pay the premiums for an insurance policy. Driving the car is also not free, as the fuel for the car costs money (oil prices are steadily rising as well). A smaller nuisance may be the fact that friends may continually ask you for rides to various places.

Location, Location, Location
When weighing the benefits over the disadvantages of having a car, it is very important to consider the location of the college or university the student is attending. Is there a good public transportation system that makes buying a car less of a necessity and more of a luxury? How far is the school from the student’s family if he or she wants to visit? These questions are important as the presence of public transportation can present a great alternative to investing in an automobile.

Financial Ability
Finally, the most important thing to consider when purchasing a car is a student’s ability to pay for the vehicle. Some people’s parents are willing to front the cost of the car, but the student still has to be able to afford gas at a minimum. It is important to inspect the income a student generates and weigh it against the cost of purchasing a vehicle. If a student has outstanding loans, it may be a much smarter investment to pocket the money that could have been spent on the car and use it to pay those down.

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