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What’s a Purdue ID Good For?

20 Jul

example Purdue student IDWhat is your Purdue ID good for?

It’s your personal identification number, it’s how you get into your residence hall, it’s your meal ticket if you have a meal plan, it’s your verification when turning in an exam, it’s what offices require to see your student account information, and it’s how you ride the bus for free.

Not to be dramatic, but you can hardly without your Purdue ID! Although memorizing the number is highly recommended, there are other reasons to carry around the card with you.

Housing:

If you live in the residence halls, this is how you swipe into your building, and potentially even the wing you live on.

Meal Plan: 

If you have a meal plan, this is how you swipe into the dining courts. Each swipe counts as a meal. Some dining courts offer premium “double swipe” meals, like steak or other higher quality options. Double swipe meals count as two MEALS, so be careful how often you partake!

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On-the-Go! uses swipes in a similar fashion. On-the-GO! is your carry-out option for dining. Located adjacent to Earhart, Ford, and Windsor Dining Courts, On-the-GO! provides a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and snack items. Signs are posted in the On-the-Go! locations stating much each item is worth. You add up all the items until it totals one meal swipe.

Dining Dollars: Dining Dollars are additional meal swipes on top of the meal plan that can be used. These are used more for eating out or in the mini marts around campus. Cary Knight Spot and Harrison Grillé are restaurants on campus that accept student’s Dining Dollars. Restaurants in the Union also accept Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars can purchase other items besides food though. Mini marts also accept Dining Dollars, and while they have food items, school supplies, shampoo, etc. It’s similar to a small convenience store.

If you have any questions on how meal swipes, dining dollars, and BoilerExpress work, be sure to check out this article from Purdue Dining and Catering.

Boiler Express:

Boiler Express is like a pre-paid debit card. Please note: Boiler Express must be set up separately, I repeat Boiler Express is separate and your refund does not automatically go into a Boiler Express Card. Boiler Express can be used at the same places as Dining Dollars. It can also be used in the laundry facilities. Each residence hall has a laundry room and you can swipe your Purdue ID to use your Boiler Express funds instead of quarters. They do offer a discounted price if you use Boiler Express instead of quarters! Click here, for more information regarding this program.

Discounts and Freebies:

You can ride the bus for free with your Purdue ID card. Did you also know that many places offer discounts to students? Not sure how the bus system works? Check out this article.

You never know, flashing your Purdue ID might give you the unexpected, but oh-so coveted discount. So be sure to show it any time you make a purchase around town. Also, many Purdue-sponsored functions (Convocations, Union activities, sporting events, or even resident hall activities) often offer discounts to students which is a good reason to keep your ID on you to verify that you are a student.

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First College Apartment Essentials

18 Jul

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There’s nothing like moving into your own place for the first time. Sure, it comes with some extra responsibilities and the need to do more cleaning than you ever imagined but your own place can make you feel like a real adult.

It’s hard to know what to buy for your very own place since so many of the items you are used to seeing at your parents place aren’t necessarily what you need for a college apartment. To help get you started here is a list compiled from multiple sources as well as personal experience.

Remember, not everything has to be moved in on day one. Some of the items you can buy after you move in. Also be sure to check in with any roommates on what they are bringing ahead of time! You don’t want to carry a couch up the stairs to realize there is no room for it.

Please note: this is an essentials list for college students, not meant to be all-encompassing of what a family kitchen should include. For emphasis, I’ve bolded the items that it would be difficult to avoid needing.

Kitchen:

Don’t worry about having all of the super specialized kitchen tools your family has. They can be expensive and take years to accumulate. Instead, focus on the things that have multiple uses.

One big note: don’t bring too many dishes! Having more and having to wash them less often sounds great until they all accumulate and you’re the one who is washing 3 loads of dishes you didn’t use.

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Silverware
  • Silverware organizer (that goes in a drawer)
  • At least one pot and one pan
  • Trash and recycling bins
  • Oven mitts or pot holders
  • Microwave (some don’t think it’s essential, but 4 minutes in the microwave vs 45 in the oven is common for frozen foods)
  • Dish soap (and dishwasher detergent if you have a dishwasher)
  • Scrubbing sponges
  • Trash bags
  • At least one good, sharp knife
  • Zip-lock baggies & food storage containers
  • Ice cube trays
  • Towels or paper towels (discuss this with your roommates: excessive paper towel use can drive people crazy, but someone has to launder cloth towels)
  • Coffee maker
  • Spatulas, ladles, etc
  • Dish drying rack (necessary if you don’t have a dishwasher)
  • Tin foil or plastic wrap
  • Toaster or toaster oven
  • Water filter
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Baking needs: measuring cups & spoons, baking sheets, and mixing bowls
  • Strainer/ colander (mandatory if you’re going to be making mac n cheese or spaghetti)

Bedroom:

Despite the fact that you might spend the most time in this room, you don’t need a whole lot to get by. If you’re going truly bare-bones, you can just throw a mattress on the ground and call it good. But here’s a list if you’re trying to top the absolute minimum.

  • Mattress
  • Pillows
  • Box spring
  • Bed frame
  • Sheets and pillow cases
  • Blankets
  • Night stand
  • Dresser or some other containers
  • Clothes hangers
  • Lamp
  • Laundry hamper
  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Curtains (or a dark sheet/ blanket)
  • Trash bin
  • Fans
  • Full length mirror

Living Room:

Other than your bedroom you’ll likely spend the most time here. Just make sure you and any roommates are on the same page about any potential issues with monopolizing couch and TV time.

  • Couches, futons and/ or chairs
  • Table
  • Wall decorations
  • DVD player
  • Television
  • Foot rest
  • Lamp

Bathroom:

Talk to your roommates and figure out if it’s okay for everyone to keep their things in the bathroom or if you’d all prefer it stays in the respective bedrooms when not being used.

  • Shower curtain, rod, and rings
  • Toiletries (soap, shampoo, etc.)
  • Toilet paper
  • Plunger
  • Bath mat
  • Trash bin
  • Towels
  • Shaving supplies
  • Shower caddy
  • Cosmetics organizers
  • Hair straighteners, curlers, dryers, etc.

Miscellaneous:

There are tons of extra things that could be included here but the items that you’ll use to clean are the main takeaways.

  • Cleaning supplies (rags, cleaners, bleach, etc.)
  • Laundry supplies (detergent, dryer sheets, etc.)
  • Trash bags
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Power strips
  • Light bulbs (some landlords will charge you for any they have to replace, so read the lease carefully)
  • Internet router and related needs (almost mandatory, but it’s possible to utilize computer labs instead)
  • Rugs
  • Coasters
  • Adhesive strips and hooks
  • Phone chargers
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop
  • Shoe organizer
  • Basic tools (screwdrivers, duct tape, pliers – but remember to contact your landlord for most needs, you are paying them to maintain your place for you)
  • Band-Aids & first-aid needs

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Healthcare & College Students: What You Need to Know

13 Jul

Up to this point in your life, there’s a very good chance that you’ve never picked up the phone to schedule a doctor’s appointment. There’s also a very good chance that you’ve never thought about how medical insurance works. The receptionist at the doctor’s office takes the information and the charges get paid, right?

Well, sometimes, but this is typically not the case. Many people are covered by an employer-provided insurance plan. Often, these plans have high deductibles, and a limited number of physicians you’re allowed to see. As a college student, healthcare is probably the last thing on your mind,but it shouldn’t be.

Unexpected healthcare costs could really put a bind on your already stretched college budget.

But don’t worry, the process isn’t as complicated as it seems. With a little planning and preparation you can learn how to manage your healthcare dollars wisely. Here’s how:

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Have a plan and know your benefits before you need to use them. Ask your parents if you are covered by their medical insurance and for how long. Most plans will cover you until you are 26.

Once you find out this basic information, call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card.

Ask your insurance company:

  • Am I covered while I am away from home? Some plans only cover for emergency services when you are away from home.
  • Am I covered at Purdue University Student Health Services? PUSH is out of network for all insurance plans except the student resources plan offered by the university.
  • What percentage will your insurance pay? What percentage will be your responsibility? You will be responsible to pay for services not covered or the balance after insurance payment.

Once you are familiar with your current insurance coverage, you can go here to see the plan offered by the university. Read the plan coverage and do a quick cost/benefit analysis to decide whether this plan would be more or less cost effective for you and your individual circumstances.

Purdue University Student Health Services (PUSH)

Purdue Student Health Services is a student-oriented healthcare facility on campus. The providers at PUSH understand college health and its impact on your academic success. This is a great resource for affordable, accessible healthcare.

Most currently enrolled students on the West Lafayette campus are eligible to be seen at PUSH. Students enrolled full time during any semester can be seen for an illness or injury at no charge.

Students enrolled part time are eligible to be seen, but they will have to pay an office visit charge.

There are fees for all other services, including laboratory, radiology, physical therapy, women’s services, allergy and immunization services, and sports medicine. Although there are fees for most services at PUSH, the fees are typically less than they would be if you were to go to a provider off campus (good to know if your percentage of required out-of-pocket expense is high).

If you are at PUSH for an office visit and your provider recommends any testing or treatment, regardless of your insurance coverage, it’s always best to ask our business office how much the test/treatment will be and find out from your insurance company how much they will pay for that particular charge.

Don’t forget to utilize the Business Services department at PUSH. Often, they can help you choose the most cost-effective path forward with your healthcare.

Practice Healthy Habits

Now that you will be learning how to manage your own health and healthcare with less parental involvement, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself matters in the learning process. Staying healthy is going to save you the most money in terms of healthcare expenses.

Good nutrition, sleep, and exercise are as important as studying for that final exam. You are going to be learning habits now that will impact your wellness for the rest of your life.

In the long run, taking care of your health, managing your healthcare, and being a wise consumer with your healthcare dollars will reward you, and your bank account.

Meal Swipes & More: Paying for your Meals at Purdue

6 Jul Text "meal swipes and more: paying for your meals at Purdue" over picture of dining court food

Purdue Dining and Catering offers several different payment methods to its patrons: meal swipes, dining dollars, Boiler Express, and cash/credit options. Below you will find an explanation of each option, culminating in a cost-effectiveness evaluation.

Meal Swipes: During academic semesters (including Maymester and summer school), students have the ability to purchase a meal plan, providing them with meal swipes. There are several different types of meal plans, which are covered in this blog. Meal swipes allow the student to swipe his or her student ID card and enter the dining court quickly. They are prepaid via the meal plans, which range in totadiningdollars_tall_meal-plan_purdue (2).jpgl pricing from $2,998-$5,398. Depending on the meal plan purchased, a student can have anywhere from 8 to unlimited meal swipes per week. Students holding one of the unlimited meal plans are given 16 meals per year with which they can swipe in friends or parents. Students on the 8 or 13 meal plans cannot bring in friends or parents, as the swipes are exclusive to the intended cardholder.

Dining Dollars: The second most popular student option. Dining dollars come pre-loaded on the student’s meal plan. Some meal plans are sold without dining dollars, so be aware of the dining dollar total presented with the meal plan you select. Dining dollars can only be re-loaded if you purchase the Boiler Flex Unlimited plans. Dining dollars are a great option, as they allow the student to bring in guests. The student will be asked whether or not their guest is a fellow student. Student pricing is slightly cheaper, as it is tax-free. The guest will be asked to produce a student ID to verify their status. A student dinner with dining dollars costs $9.60.

BoilerExpress: a third, slightly more expensive option. BoilerExpress accounts are helpful for off-campus students, employees of the university, or the student who has run out of dining dollars. Their pricing is a little steeper, coming in at $11.40 for a student dinner. Students can use their BoilerExpress accounts to bring in friends and parents in a manner similar to dining dollars. Employees can use BoilerExpress accounts to purchase meals at a discounted rate. BoilerExpress accounts are also valuable in their potential for refunded money. Unspent dining dollars expire at the end of the academic year; unspent BoilerExpress money can be refunded to a student as long as the account total is in excess of $10. It’s important to note that any deposit in a BoilerExpress account results in a convenience fee of $3, so when depositing, be sure to think ahead to future costs.

Cash & Card: Finally, anyone can purchase entry to Purdue’s buffet-style dining via cash or credit card. This is the most expensive of the options, costing $11.90 for a student dinner, and $12.73 for a non-student guest. Students can, again, show their IDs for tax exempt pricing, and if a family chooses to eat at a dining hall, children aged 3-10 will receive a discounted price. Purdue Dining accepts Visa and MasterCard.

Ideally, an incoming student will select the most appropriate meal plan and feed his or herself primarily using meal swipes. This is the most cost-effective option, assuming the student is not overpaying for unused swipes. If a student runs out of swipes for the week, the next best option is to pay using dining dollars. If the student does not have dining dollars, they can use BoilerExpress, or lastly, pay using cash or a credit card. It is important to make sure you know how many meals you have left per week! You can ask the employee who swipes you in to let you know how many meals you have remaining. If you choose to buy a meal using dining dollars or BoilerExpress, be sure to ask for your receipt, as it will have your current account totals printed on it. Being aware of your options when it comes to the dining halls can save you more money than you would expect!

 Student Loans: Responsible Borrowing

29 Jun

Melissa Leiden Welsh, Ph.D., CFCS, CPFFE | University of Maryland

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If you are planning to attend college, a trade school, or some type of post-secondary training after high school, you will also likely apply to obtain student loans. The challenge is to select loans that match your financial needs, not only when you are a student but also when you are earning an income following graduation.

Student loan debt has generally been considered “good debt” due to a borrower’s increased earning ability upon graduation. However, the amount of outstanding debt should be proportional to a student’s projected earning ability. Check out the following suggestions to keep from falling into student debt traps.

1. Evaluating Post-Secondary School Options

There are many things to consider as you look at educational opportunities and the decision should not be taken lightly.

Do

  • Look at different types of post-secondary school and make sure you fully understand the costs (i.e., tuition and fees, room and board) associated with each one. It’s okay to “shop around” for schools.
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FASFA is the gateway to federal student loans.
  • Examine and evaluate federal loan options. Federal loans will almost always offer lower interest rates than private loans, and you may be eligible for loan forgiveness programs, or more flexible repayment options.
  • Shop around for private loans if you don’t qualify for enough federal student loans. Even a slightly higher interest rate of 0.5% to 1% more can add up over extended repayment periods.
  • Examine potential career earnings upon graduation specific to your field of study. Some fields of study do not pay as much upon graduation as other fields. You may struggle to pay loans from an expensive post-secondary institution with a low paying career.
  • Get a copy of your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com to check for unauthorized action with your personal information. You may not even have a credit report at this time, but checking it will ensure you have not been a victim of identity theft.

Don’t

  • Overlook public in-state colleges and training facilities as they often charge lower tuition with degrees matching your career goal and financial budget.
  • Select colleges or post-secondary training sites due to a friend’s enrollment. While it is difficult to change social settings in life, it is far worse to study for a degree/certificate in a field you are not truly interested in studying.

 

2. Before Signing Loan Documents

Student loans are ultimately your responsibility to repay, so make sure you are paying attention when borrowing.

Do

  • Limit borrowing to the amount you need to cover tuition, books, and educational supplies.
  • Keep a running total of loans accruing from year to year. Only looking at semester or yearly totals may leave you surprised and overwhelmed with the final summary loan total at graduation. You can use the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) to check your Federal loan balances.
  • Keep a folder of all student loan related forms and information brochures, preferably both physical and digital. It is not only convenient to be able to find everything in a single folder, but also can be helpful when planning and evaluating repayment options.
  • Some loans require actions to keep loans in deferment/forbearance (no payments required) while remaining as an enrolled student.
  • Keep your contact information current with each lender. It is your responsibility to report a change in your address to the lender. A lack of current address is NOT an excuse for missing a loan payment.
  • Understand the terms of the agreement in regards to how loan amortization works, how interest will be charged, and if interest will be added to the principal of the loan, commonly referred to as capitalization. Some private loans capitalize more frequently than federal loans.

Don’t

  • Turn to the signature page and sign without reading all the text of the contract you are signing.
  • Use extra funds from the refund check for pizza nights, spring break, drinks with friends or shopping trips. These expenses will cost you more because of interest.

 

3. Searching for Jobs and Preparing to Graduate

It is important to consider your student loans as you near graduation and begin looking for your first post-secondary school job.

Do

  • Work hard to graduate on time. Extra years at school mean additional student loan costs and lost years of earning. 
  • Make a spending and saving budget to follow after graduation. Determine potential costs to help guide your financial decisions such as housing. It is important to look at the interest rate of each loan and work to pay off higher interest rate loans first versus small loans with low interest rates to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest costs.
  • Visit the Student Loan Estimator to determine your estimated loan repayment totals.
  • Examine and evaluate various repayment plans. Schedule an appointment with your university loan department to determine available options.
  • Read all correspondence from loan providers thoroughly before deciding to consolidate loans – some loans are ineligible for loan forgiveness programs once consolidated with non-eligible loans and loan consolidation does not necessarily lower interest rates.
  • Be cautious when deciding to pay for loan consolidation as many federal programs and some private banks offer free loan consolidation. You may receive solicitations via the mail that offer to do it for a free, but it is always free to do yourself for federal loans.
  • Explore tax credits for student loan interest payments.
  • Choose to sign up for automatic draft payments from your bank account. Automatic payments reduce the possibility of late payments and are often rewarded with lower interest rates too.

Don’t

  • Consider not paying your loans on time. Default on student loans can greatly impact your credit report. Lenders and other businesses use the information in your credit report to evaluate your applications for credit, loans, insurance, employment or renting a home.
  • Extend loans to a longer repayment time to simply have a lower monthly payment. Those extra months and years will quickly add additional interest costs beyond the principle.

 

Resources

U.S. Department of Education Blog

Student Loan Hero

Edvisors Network

Looking for Cheap or Free Stuff for Your Apartment?

21 Jun

With August closing in and the new year of leases starting soon, it’s time to start prepping for your new place. Whether it’s in Purdue housing or an off-campus apartment, you most likely need to buy a few things. It’s easy to create a huge dent in your summer savings if you buy everything at full retail price. So buy used!

I’ve always been able to easily find furniture under $50 a piece every year I’ve been at Purdue. I’ve even gotten some stuff for free. Where, you ask?

1. Thrift Stores    

Pros: It’s a one-stop-shop for small items like cooking utensils, dining ware, and picture frames at a reasonable price.

clothes rack

Cons:  If you’re looking for something very specific, they can be hit or miss. Furniture and other large items are in slim choice at Goodwill.

Where:

West Lafayette Goodwill
907 Sagamore Parkway West
West Lafayette, IN 47904
(First Saturday of every month is ½ price everything in the store)

Habitat for Humanity
3815 Fortune Dr.
Lafayette, IN 47905

Trinity Thrift Store
1224 Union Street
Lafayette, IN 47904

Amused Clothing
316 1/2 W State St
West Lafayette, IN 47906


2. 
Garage Sales 

community yard sale

Pros: Extremely cheap prices. I’ve found many household items for less than $5 at garage sales. Furniture can be harder to find, but when you do, it’s very cheap. In addition, you can haggle with the owner for a lower price. I rarely have someone turn down a lower offer.

Cons: Again, if you are looking for a very specific item, you might have trouble finding it. You also might have to drive all around town hitting up different sales to get everything you need, and we all know gas isn’t cheap.

Where: Check out Tippecanoe CraigslistYard Sale Search, or pick up a Journal and Courier on Friday or Saturday morning for the classifieds.

3. One Man’s Trash is Your Treasure

There’s a special kind of Senior Week here at Purdue. As graduating students move to full-time jobs in distant cities, there are countless free scores waiting by every dumpster, trash can, and curb side in West Lafayette.

Pros: Well for one, it’s free. But don’t worry; you won’t have to jump inside a dumpster. Many considerate movers will leave their perfectly usable unwanted furniture and appliances in a clean spot beside the dumpster.

Cons: Hey, if you’re willing to jump into a dumpster to dig deeper, I’m not stopping you. You just might get a little messy.

Where: Take a stroll or car ride around the student neighborhoods and see what you can find. Large apartment complexes will be overflowing with treasures.

4. Craigslist

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Pros:  You can shop in your pajamas at home and the seller might even deliver the goods to you. Performing a quick search through the listings is the fastest and easiest way to find a very particular item for cheap. Remember to haggle down the price!

Cons: Setting up a time and place to meet someone for your purchase can be a bit of a pain, especially if they cancel at the last second. “Oh yeah, I forgot had dinner with the in-laws tonight. Can we do tomorrow?”

Where: The Lafayette/West Lafayette Tippecanoe Craigslist.

5. Purdue Surplus

Ever wonder where all those abandoned bikes from campus go? They get shipped off to the Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store in Lafayette! They specialize in old furniture from Purdue buildings, bikes, computers and monitors, and student lost-and-found stuff.

Pros: The prices are extremely cheap. I’ve gotten an exercise bike for $10 and a coffee table for $5 from the warehouse in the past.

Cons: The Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store has odd operating hours – Mon-Fri  12PM-4PM. So if you’re only free on weekends, this option is out.  You also might be purchasing something you once owned.

Where:
Purdue Warehouse & Surplus Store
700 Ahlers Dr
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Setting Up Your Schedule for Next Semester

20 Jun

Welcome Class of 2021!

STAR is a huge step in getting your college career started off. You meet your advisor, and enjoy a few informational sessions, but most importantly you’ll sign up for your first semester of Purdue classes! 1st semester clocktower 22.jpg

Your semester can take shape a lot of different ways depending on how you set your classes up. Things like course difficulty, the times, and how the courses are presented (online, in-person) can all make a huge difference in how your semester goes. So here’s a few things to think about as you’re setting up your first semester of classes:

Coming to college, I never knew that you’re usually only in class for about three or so hours per day depending on your credit load. Even if you spend another three hours a day doing homework or studying like your professors wish, you still probably have more free time than you did in high school. Joining clubs and orgs might eat up your free time quicker than you realize, but you have more choices in how you spend your time than at pretty much any other point in your life.

You may have had classes starting at 7:30 in high school, but if you’re not a morning person definitely look into having your earliest class start a little later in the day. Without having any family members to badger you into waking up, it becomes way too easy to figure you can just catch the lecture online or get the notes from a friend.

If you’re living off campus, you’ll want to try to schedule your classes closely together. On days when the weather doesn’t cooperate (and even days when it does), having to choose between killing two hours on campus versus walking a mile back to your place isn’t a choice you’ll want to make.

Be sure to find time for lunch! Those afternoon classes become a grind if your stomach is rumbling the whole time. Plus, plenty of labs don’t allow food or drink so bringing your own snacks won’t solve the problem. Whether you leave a hole in your schedule or just plan ahead and pack your backpack with some lunch food that you can eat on the go (and doesn’t mind being squished), just having a lunch plan in your routine helps.

Online classes are sometimes thought of as an easy way to get some classes in without having the same time commitment. Unfortunately, if you’re thinking that way you’ll probably get a surprise you don’t like. Online classes often have a lot of busy work and online discussion so the professor knows you’re engaged with the class and comprehending. While they are much more flexible time-wise, they usually take up more free time than an in-person course.

Finally, what to do the rest of the day when you’re not in class? Even if you’re sleeping a mythical 12 hours a night, with three hours of class a day you’ll still have 9 hours remaining that you have your own choice how to spend.

Some students fall into the trap of getting really into Netflix and not a whole lot else. Even the best shows get boring after some time and even for an introvert, just hanging by yourself all the time can become a pretty isolating experience.

This is where clubs and student orgs can fit in. Whether it’s playing a sports club and getting that team bond that you enjoyed from high school sports, joining a professional organization that’s related to your major, something that aligns with your beliefs, or Greek life, there’s tons of great choices. They all want you to join and once you do, you’ll never remember why you had any skepticism about it!

Is It Worth It to Own a Car In College?

9 Sep

car in college

Having a car in college can lead to some really fun times. Cross country road trips in the summer, getaway weekends and nights out on the town are all easier for students who bring a car to campus. However, maintaining a car as a student probably costs more than you think. So, when is it worth it?

The Privilege of Car Ownership

There are many advantages to owning a vehicle as a college student. First and foremost is the flexibility and freedom a car affords. You’ll no longer be dependent on other drivers when you’re making plans – simply by having a car you have more say in what it you can do and what you want to do.  And, of course, your commute to campus is likely to be a bit shorter; so hitting the snooze button a few times won’t ruin your morning.

Owning a car in college can help you make and save money, too. Since you can commute a little further, you’ll be able to consider a wider selection of off-campus jobs. And with all that carrying capacity, you can tackle a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single day. If your kitchen is stocked, you’ll cook more and eat out less (and all without hauling groceries on foot or by bus).

Car ownership in college also has benefits beyond daily usage. When you really want to get out of town, having a car will make it happen. This is especially true given how difficult it can be for college students to rent cars at affordable rates.

Important Auto Considerations

gas prices are expensive

Despite all the benefits, however, there are some important financial factors you should consider before you decide to own a car while in college.

Gas is expensive, and it’s going to stay that way. The average car in the U.S. consumes around $1,000 worth of gas each year. If you drive your car regularly, you can probably expect to fill your tank once a week. Before you commit to bringing a car to college you need to determine how much it costs on average to fill the tank and how often you expect you’ll fill it up. If possible, you’ll of course want to bring a car with good gas mileage.

Car insurance is another major cost you’ll need to factor into your budget if you drive during college. Premiums are higher for anyone under the age of 25, whether or not they are enrolled in college. The good news is that, on average, Indiana auto insurance premiums are among the lowest in the country.

You’ll also want to consider the cost of campus parking before bringing your car to school. Here are the Purdue rates for parking permits. You should also make certain you are eligible; this is determined by the distance between your home and the campus.

Finally, when deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile to bring a car to college, you have to budget for damages and repairs. The average car needs just over $400 a year in repairs, not including oil changes. You can save some money changing your own oil and rotating your own tires, assuming you know how to do so safely.

Cost-Effective Alternatives

So what are the alternatives to keeping a car at college? There are a number of great ways to get around in West Lafayette:

  • Public transportation: The bus system in West Lafayette is very interconnected with Purdue. The university is central to the area, meaning the bus system can get you to the campus Lafayette CitBusfrom almost anywhere.
  • Bicycles, skateboards and so on: Bicycling is a great alternative in West Lafayette, and many people make it their main mode of transportation. Skateboarding, rollerblading and walking are also options, especially if you live on or close to campus.
  • Zipcar: The local branch of this car sharing service is available to anyone over 18 and caters to Purdue students, faculty and staff.

The Bottom Line

Because car ownership is such a complex financial commitment, you’ll need to do extensive research before you know whether or not it’s a sensible investment. In a nine-month academic year, AAA reports that the average small car costs more than $3,000, including gas, insurance and maintenance; this doesn’t factor in parking costs and non-standard repairs. As a college student, you can’t afford to gloss over such a pricy and impactful decision.

Karla Lant is a life insurance writer for The Simple Dollar. She helps everyday people understand and master life insurance issues and questions. Lant has dealt with related regulatory issues in her work as an attorney and has researched and published on life insurance and estate planning. She has also taught subjects related to life insurance as an adjunct professor – she is currently an adjunct at Northern Arizona University. Here is her Facebook page

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