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Parking Wars


Anyone who has ever attended a large university knows that parking is typically pretty pricey. To give you a sampling of some of the universities I’m familiar with, the University of Texas parking is insane. My college roommate parked at a far-off satellite spot still about a mile from her classes and she paid $300 PER MONTH to park there! PER MONTH!!!!!!

For my Master’s degree I attended a smaller university so parking was pretty reasonable – $50/semester. My current university is a larger one and parking here is what I’d consider mid-range for large universities: $600 per academic year.

But even though $300/semester isn’t too bad (relatively speaking), they kill you on the daily parking rates! On my first day of the new job I jumped on the parking and transportation website and there was no information about summer parking permits. The only available info talked about academic year parking permits. So I assumed I’d have to pay the daily rate until the academic year officially begins in a month.

But the daily rates are crazy! I’d been paying $10/day – that’s $50/week just to park on campus. And, unfortunately, there really aren’t options for parking off campus. There are busses, but they don’t run out to where I live (I live in the suburbs, just outside Tucson city limits, whereas the university is located directly mid-town). And if you try to park in the neighborhoods you’ll get towed immediately. So unless I get a motorcycle (for which parking is much cheaper, but we don’t own a motorcycle and I can never see myself riding one), I’m stuck paying for parking.

On Thursday night I started thinking about parking. $50/week; 5 weeks – we’re talking $250 in parking costs until the academic year permit goes into effect! That’s insanity! Who can afford that!?

So Friday morning I called the parking and transportation office and – wouldn’t you know – they DO offer summer permit parking passes. The prorated rate for the remainder of summer costs exactly $56.

At this point I slap my own forehead in disgust of the amount of money I’ve spent on parking, knowing I could have saved myself by buying this permit that wasn’t advertised on the website!

So the moral of the story is ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask! Wish I would’ve asked on day #1 and saved myself $50! A very expensive lesson to learn. At least I’ve kept my parking receipts for tax purposes. Even though it’s a pain, every little bit helps. Moving forward I’ll be able to have parking expenses automatically withdrawn from my paycheck pre-tax so I won’t have to worry about keeping up with receipts, etc. Good stuff.

Do you remember how much you paid for parking when you were in college (also – what type of college: large, medium, small?)


  • Reply onefamily |

    If you don’t want to pay the $600 per year and there is no bus service near your home, could you park at a “park and ride” and then take the bus into campus from there?

    • Reply Ashley |

      There are park and ride options for much cheaper ($200 per academic year), but the busses are operated by the university (not city), and are known for being a little unreliable. They don’t show up when they’re scheduled to, might be fewer operating than they’re supposed to have, and they only operate on certain dates (e.g., not during summer, not during winter break, and not on any university holiday), and at certain times (not on nights and weekends). I’d love to save that extra money, but I value being able to have a reliable parking place year-round regardless of time of day or holiday. I’ve been known to work odd hours (Sundays are one of my favorite working days, for example), so I don’t like all the restrictions with the park and ride lots.

  • Reply Maureen |

    I think parking s outrageous. I don’t remember college prices per se (but I went to school in a small town with ample parking). However, I work in downtown Chicago and live in the suburbs. My options are:

    1. Take the commuter line train-which involves driving 3 miles each way from my house, parking (paying $3 for 12 hours at the meter). Then, taking the commuter train into the City (25 min each way) for a price of $4.75 each way ($42.50 for a 10-ride or $130 a month), and then walking a mile each way to my office (or in inclement weather it’s a $10 cab ride each way). There is a limit of 12-hours at the meter and a few times I have come close if a train gets delayed!

    2. Driving 6 miles to the “L” (i.e., subway) and paying $3-$5 to park all day depending on lot and than $5 round trip which gets me a within a block to my office.

    3. Driving into the City (which can be up to 2 hours each way and I live 14 miles away) and paying $18-$40 a day to park–depending on lot, time in, pre-booked, etc.

    I most often opt for #1 out of convenience but will be converting to #2 as the weather gets worse (#2 is “better” but it takes me through less safe parts of town). So on average it costs me between $10-$15 a day to commute/park not including gas.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Ugh! That sounds awful! We’re really very lucky in Tucson in that we rarely have traffic issues. I can’t imagine it taking up to 2 hours to travel 14 miles!!!

  • Reply k |

    During college I only had to get a parking permit freshman year, and it was only like $25-30. We’re a tiny little college and parking was never that big of a deal. Sophomore to senior year I lived off campus and close enough to just walk to class, never needed to bother with driving my car there.
    Thankfully where I work now we have free parking and there seems to be plenty of it. I’m always thankful I haven’t had to deal with any bad parking situations!

  • Reply Juhli |

    When I was in college we couldn’t afford the parking fee so we found an area where we could park on the street and walked about a mile to campus. I do think though that if you are the on call person for emergencies for your children that you should have a secure, easy to get to parking space so you can come and go as needed.

  • Reply Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore |

    I went to a state university with about 20-25,000 students. Parking seemed expensive to me – like $250/year but now that doesn’t seem like that much. But to a broke college kid, that’s a lot of money!

  • Reply Kerstin |

    sometimes having a car is such a pain!!! 😉 I got really good at giving myself literally an hour extra to drive around (wasting gas though) looking for free parking while I was in school. Good grief, it was ridiculous!

So, what do you think ?