Can You Get a Student Discount on Cars?

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, - September 10, 2021

Yes, it's possible to get one if you're looking for a student discount on a car. There are all kinds of discounts available for college students. Typically, discounts come in the form of college grad cash, but the programs vary widely among automakers. Here's what you need to know.

Grad Discounts are Plentiful

Most automakers have some kind of college graduate discount available. They tend to run as rebates between $400 to $1,000. In order to qualify for college grad cash, as it's sometimes called, you typically need to meet these requirements:

  • Must prove you've graduated within the past two years, or be graduating in no more than six months.
  • Must have a good credit standing, or at least not bad credit.
  • Must provide proof of employment, usually with a check stub or letter of intent from your future employer.

Most Offers are for New Cars

In order to be eligible for a student discount on a vehicle, you typically need to finance a new car. Some programs extend the offers to certified pre-owned vehicles as well, but not all do. If you're not interested in purchasing a new car, some automakers also allow student discounts to be stacked with lease deals, making leasing a decent option for some recent grads.

It's important to know what offers are out there before you start applying for financing so that your credit score takes as small a hit as possible. If you space out your search for an auto loan over a few months, each time a lender pulls your credit it's liable to hurt your score.

You can counteract this by doing your research first, and then applying with a few different lenders within a 14-day timeframe. This is known as rate shopping. When you do this, all the hard pulls still show up on your credit report, but only one of them should impact your credit score.

If you're worried about a lack of credit history due to being a college student, don't be. Most lenders that work with college students and recent graduates are prepared for you to have a thin credit file, and often hold relaxed requirements for car loans with these deals. Not everything is relaxed with every automaker, though – some deals are only available to students with good grades. Remember, all programs and requirements vary; loan requirements vary by lender as well.

Most Comprehensive Student Discount Program: Ford

Ford offers the most wide-ranging pool for student discounts, encompassing high school seniors, college enrollees, trade school students, those in grad school, and recent graduates. The current Ford College Student Purchase Program offers $750 cashback on the purchase of a new Ford model, or $500 on a lease.

Eligible vehicles for student discounts are new 2020/21 model year Ford Fusion, Escape, Edge, Mustang, Ranger, F-150s, and all Lincoln models.

In order to qualify, you must adhere to the enrollment status required for your school situation. And, bring proof in the form of enrollment documents, diploma, or letter of intent, and proof of class schedule, report card, or dated letter from the school.

Student Discounts Not for You?

If you're not having any luck qualifying for a student discount, or the discount available just isn't for you, you're not out of options for an auto loan. There are subprime lenders available that specialize in lending for borrowers who are new to the world of credit. These lenders also look beyond your credit score and try to make it as painless as possible to qualify for the financing you need.

To find one of these lenders in your area, you need to find a dealership that's signed up with subprime lenders, and at CarsDirect, we want to help. To get the process started today, simply fill out our fast, free, zero-obligation car loan request form. We'll get right to work finding a match for you.

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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