Leaving the State for College This Fall? Should You Take Your Car or Not?

If you're heading off to college in a new state this fall, you're probably already dividing your possessions into two lists: "leave" and "take." Which list does your car go on? The answer may not be as easy as a lot of people presume. Here are a few things to consider.

1.) Can you handle the pressure from others?

Having a car is convenient, especially if you want to go grocery shopping or just get away from campus for the weekend. However, there may be a lot of people around you who wish to borrow that convenient vehicle. If you have trouble turning people down, it might not be worth the pressure (and risk) brought by your friends.

If someone borrows your car, you're still responsible for any accidents that they get in. Your insurance rate, not your friend's, will go up. In addition, if your friend doesn't happen to have a valid license, your car could get impounded if he or she gets stopped by police. 

While you might not have a problem turning down someone who wants to use your car for a pizza run, it could be harder to turn down your best friend's request to borrow the car to see a doctor or pick up a boyfriend at the airport.

2.) Do you want the hassle and expense?

Cars generally have to be registered in the state in which they're primarily used. While the exact laws can vary, you will probably have to register your vehicle in the state where you're attending school, since you'll be there more than you will your home state. That can be an expense that you don't really want, especially if the state is one of those, like Virginia, that assesses yearly personal property taxes on vehicles. The tax is usually based on the average loan value of the vehicle.

If you skip this step, you may run into other problems. Many schools require proof of registration before they'll issue a parking pass for on-campus spots. If you try to park there without it, you'll face heavy tickets and could have your car towed. You'll also face steep fines and the possibility of having your vehicle impounded if you get pulled over for a traffic violation.

3.) Do you have a good reason to take the car?

For some students, a car is a luxury. For others, it can be an absolute necessity. If you are working your way through school or are involved in athletics, a car could be indispensable. Trying to navigate public transportation to and from a job could cost you hours of valuable study time. If you're an athlete, it could be nearly impossible to keep up with practice schedules and team events and get to classes. Those kinds of reasons make taking the car with you an entirely sensible decision.

Once you've examined these basic questions, it can be a lot easier to determine if your car stays at home or goes with you to school. Talk the decision over with your parents, insurance agent, and school counselor if you are having a hard time deciding. To get an idea of the fees involved with registration or taxes, talk to the DMV in the county where you'll be attending school.

For more information about car registration and other topics, consult a professional such as B & K Auto Tags.