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The Benefits of Leasing a Vehicle for College Students

 
If you're a college student in need of transportation, you have a difficult decision to make. On one hand, you could buy a new car. Buying a car gives you an asset that you own permanently. As you make payments, you build equity until the car becomes yours. On the other hand, buying a car is a long-term commitment for which you might not be ready. When you finish college and begin your career, do you know what type of vehicle will serve you best? Your priorities can change quickly when you enter the workforce. 
Leasing a car is an attractive option for a college student because a lease is a short-term commitment. When your priorities change, the lease term will be over. A lease also costs much less than you would pay for a new vehicle over the same time period. When you lease a vehicle, you're getting new, reliable transportation for a low cost -- and usually with no out-of-pocket maintenance expenses. 

Let's examine some of the benefits that you can expect if you decide to lease a vehicle.

Reliable Transportation

When you lease a vehicle, you get to drive an entirely new car -- one that's never been in an accident or developed the quirks of age. If you live on campus, it's unlikely that you'll drive every day. When you do drive -- whether it's because of a part-time job or a day off from classes -- you want to know that your car will start every time you turn the key. A leased vehicle almost always carries the full manufacturer's warranty for the duration of the lease. You can generally expect the dealership to perform free routine maintenance on a leased vehicle and to take care of any problems that occur. Since being a student often means getting by with very little income, it can be greatly beneficial to know that you'll never have an unexpected repair expense because your car has broken down.

Short-Term Commitment

What type of car can you see yourself driving when you're no longer a college student? Right now, you might enjoy a larger vehicle such as a truck. Trucks are lots of fun -- they're perfect for camping trips and tailgating during the weekends. Since a truck can carry plenty of items and tow a heavy load, it can also be very useful. When you finish college, though, you may accept an offer for a job that requires a lengthy daily commute. If you choose a lease term that expires around the same time that you expect to finish college, that's no problem -- you can simply trade the truck for a more fuel-efficient car such as a Chevrolet Cruze when the lease ends. Leasing a vehicle is perfect for someone whose life is in a state of transition. If you don't know exactly what you'll be doing several years from now, a short-term vehicle lease allows you to avoid a long-term commitment that you might regret later.

Lower Monthly Costs

When you lease a vehicle, you can typically expect much lower monthly payments than you would have if you purchased the same vehicle new. If the typical monthly payment for a new vehicle purchased with good credit is around $400, the lease payment for the same vehicle is around $294. So, if you don't want to buy a pre-owned vehicle -- and you can't afford a new car -- a lease is the perfect compromise. 

Remember that a vehicle lease includes a mileage limit. Auto dealerships impose mileage limits on leased vehicles so the vehicles will maintain their value. If you drive more than the allotted number of miles, the car will have a lower-than-expected value when you return it. After all, every mile driven reduces the value of a car slightly. So, you'll pay a fee -- typically around $.15 per mile over the limit -- when you return the car. Going over the mileage limit reduces some of the savings of leasing a car, so watch your mileage closely. Auto leases are typically ideal for college students, though, since students spend much of their time in class and tend not to drive as much as people who work full time.

Accident Protection

When you lease a vehicle, the car's owner will expect you to carry comprehensive and collision insurance coverage. There may be some cases, though, in which the insurance company will not reimburse the full value of the vehicle if it is stolen or destroyed in an accident. For that reason, the dealership that leases the vehicle to you will generally include gap insurance as part of the lease contract. If the vehicle's primary insurance policy doesn't cover the car's full value, gap insurance pays the difference. No one plans for a car accident. If one does happen, though, you'll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that -- aside from your insurance deductible -- you'll bear no financial responsibility if an accident does occur.

No Hassles When Lease Ends

Do you attend college far from home? Many students elect to leave their primary vehicles at home during the school year to reduce wear and tear. If you buy a car to use during school, though, you'll have to go through the hassle of selling the car to a dealership or private party when the school year ends. If you lease your car, you can simply return it at the conclusion of the lease. It's the perfect solution if you already know that you won't keep your vehicle long.
 
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