Sometimes students bring their car to school or if they are living at home use it to get to school. Most students, rightly, get a beater but some prefer to get a loan to get a car they like. Normally that is a very bad idea. Often students are living on a part-time job, student loans and/or scholarships. Adding another debt on top can send you over the edge. I'm twenty-six and my husband is twenty-nine and neither of us have had new cars and that has helped us financially.
This does mean we need to be careful when we get our cars and we need to have a repair fund. We put away about a $100 in a car fund every month, we have never used it all and we save the rest for large repairs/maintenance and our next car. I was lucky, my mom bought my first car from a friend of hers and my aunt let me inherit my current grandmother died and we were moving to buffalo. Both were extremely well taken care of and allowed me not to spend a lot of money on repairs/maintenance. My husband was not as lucky and went through quite a few cars and had to do quite bit of repairs over the years. Thankfully, his father taught him quite a bit about cars and he has done some of the work and that has kept his costs down.
When we moved to Buffalo we decided to just take one car. In San Jose our university gave us free bus passes and therefore I only drove to work and for going out. My husband and I did the math and we would have to rent a car for over thirty days to equal keeping a beater around. We decided it was not worth it, and over the last two years we have only needed to rented a car at home twice.
It is best to decide what works for you, renting a car, using zip car or owning a car. Nothing works best for everyone and you need to decide in your individual case. What works best will change over time so you have to always be thinking about your situation. At some point my husband and I may need a second car, or we will have enough extra money to buy a motorcycle and live in a place where they are practical, but that is not our current situation. My husband had to sell his bike to help him get out of debt and he did not like it but he did what he had to do, as we all need to do.
What choices have you made for good or bad? What has worked and not worked for you for transportation? Why did it work or not? What made you change your current situation?