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Car deals available to college students, recent grads

Nicholls State University graduate Brandi Moore jumps with

Nicholls State University graduate Brandi Moore jumps with excitement after seeing her new car shortly after graduation ceremonie in Houma, La. (Saturday, May 20, 2006) Credit: AP Photo

If you're a college student looking to buy a car, you're probably also looking for ways to save money in the process. If you're dead set on a new car, everyone from automakers to the government is willing to give you a hand.

There are two kinds of discounts that automakers offer for college students or recent graduates on top of the incentives they offer all buyers. The first is a cash-back offer, which means you'll get a few hundred in cash when you purchase a car at selected dealerships. There are few requirements for these discounts other than proof that you're a student and that you purchase a new vehicle. Different automakers offer different amounts, but you can safely expect $400 or $500. Check automakers' websites before going in, though, as discounts are often seasonal.

The second category of discounts affects people with college graduation in their near future or recent past. Many automakers now offer financing packages specifically for college graduates who are buying new cars. Though the numbers vary, you're generally qualified if you're within six months of graduation or two years past it. Other requirements include a small debt to income ratio, employment, insurance, and good credit. Though these plans don't give you a direct discount on the price of the car, you can expect to pay less up front and probably less in the long run. Plans include a mix of the following: smaller APR, delayed first payments, less-stringent credit requirements and special leasing plans.

GM offers a unique plan for college students. Unlike other automakers, it doesn't offer cash back or special financing. Instead, GM (which includes Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC) will sell cars at a discounted price rather than the MSRP. That means you can save on a new Chevrolet Sonic (depending on what trims and options you choose) or Chevy Malibu, for example. To be eligible, you must be a current student or recent graduate, and you must register online and obtain a code to use at a participating dealer.


Though young drivers tend to get stuck with higher insurance rates than most other drivers on the road, there are a few things students can do to lower their car insurance payments. Nearly all insurance companies offer a discount for good grades. The requirements all hover around a B or 3.0 average, so keep your grades up! You can also prove your trustworthiness with a good driving record; if you've never been in an accident or have never gotten a ticket, there are insurance discounts for that as well. Some insurance companies also offer discounts for airbags, anti-theft devices, driver's training, partnering organizations (membership in student groups or alumni associations) and attendance at a school more than 100 miles from home.

Though all of these tips may help you in making a decision about your new car, make sure you research cars, insurance companies and discount plans before deciding to buy. Many discounts are seasonal, and therefore change without warning. Discounts are also often difficult to find in brochures or on websites, so never be afraid to ask at the dealership.


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