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The 10 most car-friendly colleges in the U.S.

Textbooks, 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.

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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 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

California Polytechnic State University

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

Total Cost: $2,297

9. Penn State University

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

Total Cost: $2,131

 

8. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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

Total Cost: $2,092

7. University Of Iowa

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

Total Cost: $1,934

6. University Of North Carolina at Charlotte

University Of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Average Annual Insurance Premium: $496
  • Student Parking Permit: $450
  • Annual Cost of Gas: $962

Total Cost: $1,908

5. James Madison University

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

Total Cost: $1,878

4. University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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

Total Cost: $1,790

3. Iowa State University

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

Total Cost: $1,789

2. North Carolina State University

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

Total Cost: $1,579

1. East Carolina University

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

Total Cost: $1,547

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.

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Ross Martin LinkedIn

As a licensed insurance agent, Ross is responsible for researching and writing about all matters related to insurance. He has a background in writing and education, as well as a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London. He has been quoted by CNET, iDriveSafely.com and Kin Insurance.