The 10 Most Car-Friendly Colleges in the U.S.


Text books, meal plans, dorm furnishings. New grads entering college have a litany of expenses to consider, Including the cost of driving a car on campus. Read on for the 10 most (and least) car-friendly colleges, so you can budget accordingly.

College Pattern

Ever wondered what the most car-friendly colleges there are?

As we’ve detailed before, and as any driver already knows, car ownership is expensive. The annual cost to own and operate a vehicle has fallen 2% from last year, but for many American families those meager savings are not enough to offset the financial worries of car ownership when balanced alongside the hefty cost of a college education. Driving expenses vary depending on a multitude of factors, and luckily for any of you new grads headed to one of the 10 colleges listed below, the chips have landed in your favor. In a new data analysis, we looked at the top location-based variables such as insurance premium costs, basic student parking fees, and local gas prices to determine the 10 most affordable colleges for bringing a car to campus. So come moving day, you can load up your backseat with boxes, and start navigating a whole new world of collegiate freedom, without blowing through your budget.

Here is The Zebra‘s list of the Top 10 Most Car-Friendly Colleges:

10. California Polytechnic State University

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $803
  • Student Parking Permit: $375
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $1,119

Total Cost: $2,297

Cal Poly State University
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, California

Source: California Polytechnic State University via Facebook


9. Penn State University

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $812
  • Student Parking Permit: $288
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $1,031

Total Cost: $2,131

Penn State
Penn State University
State College, Pennsylvania

Source: Penn State via Facebook


8. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $789
  • Student Parking Permit: $276
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $1,027

Total Cost: $2,092

University of Nebraska Lincoln
University Of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska

Source: University Of Nebraska-Lincoln via Facebook


7. University Of Iowa

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $674
  • Student Parking Permit: $225
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $1,035

Total Cost: $1,934

University of Iowa campus
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa

Source: University Of Iowa via Facebook


6. University Of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $496
  • Student Parking Permit: $450
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $962

Total Cost: $1,908

UNC Charlotte
University Of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina

Source: University Of North Carolina at Charlotte via Facebook


5. James Madison University

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $788
  • Student Parking Permit: $240
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $850

Total Cost: $1,878

James Madison University
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, Virginia

Source: James Madison University via Facebook


4. University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $385
  • Student Parking Permit: $447
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $958

Total Cost: $1,790

UNC at Chapel Hill
University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Source: University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via Facebook


3. Iowa State University

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $658
  • Student Parking Permit: $143
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $988

Total Cost: $1,789

Iowa State University
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa

Source: Iowa State University via Facebook


2. North Carolina State University

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $458
  • Student Parking Permit: $198
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $923

Total Cost: $1,579

NC State University
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina

Source: North Carolina State University via Facebook


1. East Carolina University

  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $421
  • Student Parking Permit: $180
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $946

Total Cost: $1,547

East Carolina University
East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina

Source: East Carolina University via Facebook


What Are the Most Expensive Colleges for Bringing a Car on Campus?

To satisfy our curiosity, we also ranked the least car-friendly colleges. If you have a letter of acceptance from one of these universities in hand, you might want to consider leaving your car at home:

1. New York University – New York, NY
2. University Of Delaware – Newark, DE
3. Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo, MI
4. Florida International University – Miami, FL
5. Temple University – Philadelphia, PA 
6. University Of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI 
7. Central Michigan University – Mt Pleasant, MI 
8. Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI 
9. Grand Valley State University – Allendale, MI 
10. University Of South Florida – Tampa, FL 

It’s no surprise to see the majority of colleges that ranked as least car-friendly colleges are located in Michigan and Florida, as both states are notorious for skyrocketing car insurance prices. (Not-so-fun fact: Drivers in Michigan pay $1,048 more than the national average for car insurance.) But for all you future Floridians and Michiganders, don’t despair: The easiest way to find a good rate is to compare your options, and we’ve got you covered for that.

Our Methodology

Wondering how Cal Poly came in as #10? Or why your alma mater didn’t make the list? Our methodology is easy to break down. First, we looked at the top 100 most popular universities in the U.S. We then pulled average annual insurance premiums for males and females aged 18 – 21 for each university city or town. Next, we factored in basic student parking permit fees for each university based on their published annual rates. For the final factor, we determined annual gas expenses based on an average of 10,000 miles driven annually in a car that gets 26 miles per gallon.

Are you a student headed to one of these colleges? Do you plan on bringing your car to campus or are you leaving it behind? Let us know in the comments.