5 Tips on Giving a College Student a Car

Gifting a vehicle to a college student for school or even a graduation present is more than just delivering the keys to a new car; it's about giving your college student a solid start for their next chapter in their life. This thoughtful (and pricey) gift can greatly improve their everyday life as being able to get to those job interviews requires some sort of transportation. This guide goes over buying a car for a college student, including shipping if going away to college.

To make sure everything goes as you want it to and the gift is well-received, some good planning is needed. Here are five key tips to keep in mind when selecting the perfect vehicle for your college student:

Selecting the Perfect Vehicle

When picking a vehicle for a graduate or student going to college, balance what is attractive now with what will be practical later. While a sporty, compact car may be tempting, think about the long-term requirements of the recipient. Will they need more space for future life changes? Choosing a four-door sedan, hatchback, or SUV might offer the flexibility and space needed as the student's life progresses.

While electric vehicles are becoming more common, check whether your college kid's lifestyle and that their location has including charging facilities.

Handling the Paperwork to Buy A Car For A College Student

Buying a vehicle for your grad requires a some paperwork. If your college kid is at a school far away, check if the dealership provides services to assist with registration, and insurance, and shipping.


Ask about registering the vehicle. How it works if you are the person buying but your college kid is taking primary ownership. Especially ask if it's under your name but will reside in another state. Some states may require local registration of the vehicle if it will remain in the state for some time.

Insurance for Those Away at College

If your college student lives with you, then it should be pretty simple to add the vehicle. However, make sure your insurance company knows where the car will be if it's not at your residence. Although it may be easier to throw it on your policy without doing anything else, make sure you ask your insurance company how they handle one of your vehicles being driven outside of your home or even the state.

Ask About Shipping for Those Away at College

Many dealerships have options for shipping. Some may not or want to charge too much. You may be buying a preowned car for your student and need shipping. Or you may want to be in control as to who is taking responsibility for your vehicle's transport.

In one or more of those cases, you can also use an auto transport company to ship a car to your college student. We have our student car shipping service to move a car to a school without having to drive it.

Budget Wisely

Before you become attached to a specific model, think carefully about your finances. Decide if you’re buying the car outright or using financing. Leasing may also be a feasible option depending on your financial situation and how much you expect your child to drive around.

For graduates just starting, staying realistic about you can afford to maintain is important. Especially if you will be giving a financial boost here and there to get them going. If needed, consider buying a high-quality used vehicle, which might stretch your budget further without sacrificing the quality of your gift.

Personalize It

Giving the vehicle a personal touch can make your gift even more memorable. Think about adding customizations that mirror your college student's interests and personality. Simple enhancements such as a custom license plate frame, decals, or specialty car mats can have a big impact. If your finances allow, more elaborate customizations like a preferred paint color, upgraded interiors, or high-tech features such as a premier sound system or built-in navigation can tailor the vehicle closely to the college student's preferences.

Plan for Maintenance

To keep the gift valuable, plan for the vehicle’s maintenance. Many young college grads are unfamiliar with car ownership responsibilities. Adding maintenance services like pre-paid oil changes or tire rotations can keep your gift running and safe for your college student. Creating a reminder system for them, or selecting a vehicle (usually available for new cars) with an extensive service package covering routine maintenance for a while could be helpful.


Gifting a vehicle for a college student going to college or even as graduation gift is an incredibly generous and incredibly helpful decision for someone just starting out. By taking the steps highlighted above, you can make your college student's gift one they will never forget.

Carl has a decade of experience in the car shipping industry. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the transport business since 2014, taking charge of various roles in the company such as dispatching, sales, and customer service.

During those years, Carl amassed an invaluable amount of experience which has contributed to his writing of every article and and guide on NX since taking over content in 2015.