How to Buy a Car When You're a Student

Purchasing a car as a student can be a daunting task. With tuition, textbooks, and living expenses piling up, how can you afford a set of wheels? Furthermore, which car should you choose, and what are your financing options? In this article, we explore the essential steps and considerations for students looking to buy a car.

How Can Students Afford a Car?

As a student, it might seem impossible to juggle your existing financial obligations and still afford a car. However, there are several ways to make it work.

Part-Time Work and Savings

A part-time job can help you save up for a down payment. By creating a budget and sticking to it, you can determine how much you need to save each month to reach your goal. In the same way, you can save money to pay your student loans. Just use - Essay Guide for writing help, and do not waste your time or money purchasing some content online.

Family Assistance

Family members might be willing to help either with a down payment or by co-signing a loan. However, discussing repayment terms upfront is essential to prevent any misunderstandings later on.

Scholarships and Grants

Some universities and organizations offer grants that can be used for living expenses, including transportation. Research available opportunities to see if you qualify. 

Leasing Options

Leasing requires a lower upfront cost compared to buying and can be a good option for students who need a car temporarily.

Which Car is Right for a Student?

Choosing the right budget-friendly car involves balancing needs, preferences, and budget constraints. What factors should you consider?


A reliable car will save you money on repairs and provide peace of mind. Research cars that are known for their durability and longevity.

Fuel Efficiency

A car with good fuel efficiency can significantly reduce your overall expenses, especially if you'll be driving long distances.

Insurance Costs

Cars that are cheaper to insure can help you manage your budget better. Sporty cars or models known for high repair costs often have higher insurance premiums.

Resale Value

Consider cars like Volvo, Honda, or Toyota that hold their value well. This will be advantageous if you plan to sell the car after graduating.


Should You Buy New or Used?

The age-old question of new versus used has pros and cons for each option.

New Cars

New cars come with a full warranty, the latest features, and, often, better financing options. However, they depreciate quickly, meaning you'll lose more money if you decide to sell within a few years.

Used Cars

Used cars are generally cheaper and depreciate less rapidly. On the downside, they may require more maintenance and usually come with a shorter warranty period, if any.

Should You Get an Auto Loan?

Taking out an auto loan is one way to finance your car purchase, but it's essential to consider the implications carefully.

Interest Rates

Interest rates for students are usually higher due to a lack of credit history. Shop around for the best rates and consider getting pre-approved for a loan.

Loan Term

A longer loan term may reduce your monthly payments but will cost more in interest over time.


Be sure to factor the monthly loan payments into your budget to ensure you can afford them along with your other financial obligations.

Do You Need a Co-signer?

Having a co-signer can help secure a loan or lease, but there are things to consider.

Credit Score Boost

A co-signer with a good credit history can help you get a loan with better terms and a lower interest rate.

Financial Responsibility

Remember, the co-signer is also responsible for the loan. If you default, it will affect their credit as well.

Relationship Strain

Make sure both parties understand the terms to avoid damaging your relationship with the co-signer.

Can You Buy a Car Out of State?

Buying a car out of state can offer more choices and potentially better deals, but it's not without challenges.

Taxes and Fees

You'll still need to pay sales tax and potentially other fees in your home state when you register the car.

Inspection and Emissions

Your new car must meet your home state's inspection and emission standards, which can be an added hassle.


Ensure all the paperwork is in order for a smooth registration process when you bring the car back to your home state.

Final Takeaways

Purchasing a car as a student is a significant financial commitment but entirely feasible with careful planning and consideration. Prioritize reliability and fuel efficiency, weigh the pros and cons of new versus used, and understand your financing options. Whether you get an auto loan, bring in a co-signer, or buy out of state, make sure you're fully informed to make the best decision for your circumstances.


Diane Sherron is a financial literacy educator and freelance writer specializing in personal finance topics for young adults and students. With a background in economics and consumer behavior, Diane offers practical insights into budgeting, saving, and making informed financial decisions. Passionate about financial education, she regularly conducts workshops at various educational institutions and contributes to publications focused on empowering readers to navigate the complexities of personal finance.