Tag Archives: automobile

Is Having a Car in College Worth It?

1 Jun

car in college.jpg

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 and free for students to use. 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 pricey and important 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. Here is her Facebook page

Getting to Chicago for Thanksgiving

2 Nov


Whether you are heading up to Chicago to see family there for the Thanksgiving holiday, planning on going to the airport to fly elsewhere, or just feel like hitting the Windy City instead of seeing family, Chicago is a common destination! However, getting there can be a challenge. Whether you’re visiting short-term or using it as a way to get further from Purdue for a little while, you probably want to do it the cheapest way possible.

Note: For the airport travelers, the Indianapolis airport is closer to Purdue but flight prices may differ greatly between the airports!

I’ve gone ahead and listed a few of your options for transportation on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday returning. Some of the numbers I’ve listed below are for a specific weekend, which I’ve noted, so you’ll want to double-check your travel dates to verify the prices.


Amtrak Station

11/23: Departs from Lafayette at 3:45 p.m., arrives in Chicago at 5:45 p.m.($36)

11/27: Departs from Chicago at 5:45 PM, arrives in Lafayette at 9:57PM ($36)

Total Cost: $72 and up

Total Time: 6 hours, 41 minutes

Don’t forget about how you’ll be getting around once you get there. Whether it’s arranging a pick up from someone there, using local transit, or walking you’ll need to be prepared! If you plan to use the bus or subway (which you’ll need if the airport is your destination), you will definitely be spending extra on that and should budget accordingly. The Chicago Union station is right by downtown so you can reasonably walk to destinations if that’s the goal.


2 hours from West Lafayette to Chicago (122.5 miles)

2 hours from Chicago to West Lafayette (122.5 miles)

Gas: National average at $2.20/gallon

Total Cost: $27.50 and up plus parking

Total Time: 4 hours

If you’re averaging 20 miles/gallon, it will take about $27.50 in gas to get you to and from Chicago. However, this does not include paying for parking or any driving you may do around the city. Parking runs anywhere from $3-$15/ hour depending on the time and place you go. There are some parking lots in the heart of the city that offer flat rates for the entire day on the weekends, but you really have to search for these good deals and (as an effect of this) could use up even more gas and money. There are several apps that you can download on your phone which can help you compare parking prices. Sometimes the difference in a block is as much as $20!

The upside of this option is that you can split it with friends. Not only do they provide some company and navigation on the drive in, but they can also split the gas costs (and parking if you’re hanging out together).

If you’re catching a plane ride out of Chicago, remember that parking can cost you big! Daily parking is $35/ day if you don’t use one of the economy lots which are between $10-17/ day.



11/23: Departs from Indianapolis at 5:00 p.m., arrives in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. ($49)

11/27: Depart from Chicago at 12:30 p.m., arrives in Indianapolis at 5:15 p.m. ($49)

Total Cost: $98 and up

While MegaBus might be known for their fares as low as $1.00, that’s not the case for the Thanksgiving weekend where prices are significantly higher than usual. On top of this, the route to Chicago leaves from Indianapolis. If you drive the hour down you’ll need to pay for parking and gas. You might be able to snag a ride with a friend who is going down to visit family, but ideally you’ll throw a few dollars their way to help with gas since they are likely going out of their way. Much like the Amtrak option, though, don’t forget to take into account your transportation costs once you get there. If you’re driving yourself, going straight to Chicago might be the better bet for Thanksgiving weekend.

Lafayette Limo

Lafayette Limo

Leave Purdue Memorial Union Follett’s Purdue West Arrive at O’Hare Airport Leave Chicago Arrive Lafayette
4:30 AM 4:40 AM 6:40 AM CST 8:00 AM CST  12:00 PM
10:30 AM 10:40 AM 12:40 PM CST 2:00 PM CST  6:00 PM
3:30 PM 3:40 PM 5:40 PM CST 7:00 PM CST  11 PM

Lafayette Limo cost $60 for a one-way ticket to O’Hare Airport and $110 for a round trip back to Lafayette.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when travelling with Lafayette Limo. Once you are in Chicago you will need to consider other transportation options from the airport to the city, if you are planning on staying in Chicago. Lafayette Limo has strict pick-up and drop off times. This could keep your Chicago visit to a tight schedule. Lafayette Limo is mainly used as a transportation method for Purdue University students traveling to home during peak times (before and after each semester) which creates limited space during peak times. On top of battling students trying to return home, the Limo may be full of luggage. A packed ride to and from Chicago has the potential to put a damper on one’s trip. Though, during these peak times you can rent Lafayette Limo and have a safe ride for your group. You can find more details about renting Lafayette Limo through their website online. If you’re planning on going to the O’Hare airport, the shuttle service might save you if you would have to pay for parking otherwise.

Of the four options above, which do you think you would be most likely to use? Is your choice completely based on the prices? Or do you have another method of travel you like to use for traveling to Chicago? Let us know if you do!

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