Universities With the Most Cars on Campus

Devon Haynie

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

Many college graduates likely share one similar painful memory: driving through the school parking lot, repeatedly, in search of a parking space.

Parking crunches on campus are common across the country, causing some universities to commission papers and launch pilot projects to address the issue. The University of New England, for example, offers free bikes to students who leave their cars at home, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology embraces car sharing. Other universities charge hefty prices for parking permits or limit student parking altogether.

Still, it's a fact of life that at some universities -- particularly those with scant student housing and limited public transportation -- students will need a car to get to school. On those campuses, competition for parking is almost inevitable.

Most of the universities with the highest rates of all students with cars on campus are in the Midwest and South, according to data collected by U.S. News in the spring of 2012.

Indiana University--Purdue University--Indianapolis had the highest percentage of students with cars on campus, with 99 percent of its 30,530 students using vehicles. Although the institution provides student housing, it describes itself as a commuter school serving mostly working adults.

Wayne State University, which has about 90 percent of undergraduate students living off campus, came in second on the list, followed by Mississippi State University, where about 75 percent of undergraduate students live off campus. Spalding University, with about 92 percent of undergraduate students off campus, came in third.

Out of the 178 universities that reported the car-specific data to U.S. News, an average of 48 percent of the student body had cars on campus. Schools with no student cars on campus included Georgetown University, Polytechnic Institute of New York University and University of Wisconsin--Madison.

Below is a list of the 16 National Universities where the largest percentage of students have cars on campus (due to ties, there are more than 10 schools on the list). RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one-fourth of its rankings category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.

Schools designated by U.S. News as Unranked were excluded from this list. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.

National University (state) Total enrollment Percentage of all students who have cars on campus U.S. News rank
Indiana University-Purdue University--Indianapolis 30,530 99 RNP
Wayne State University (MI) 30,765 98 RNP
Mississippi State University 20,424 95 160
Spalding University (KY) 2,432 95 RNP
University of Missouri--Kansas City 15,492 94 179
University of South Dakota 9,970 94 199
University of Alabama--Huntsville 7,629 92 184
University of Memphis (TN) 22,725 91 RNP
Immaculata University (PA) 4,312 90 RNP
Louisiana Tech University 11,518 90 199
National-Louis University (IL) 5,737 90 RNP
Oakland University (MI) 19,379 90 RNP
University of Arkansas--Little Rock N/A 90 RNP
University of Nevada--Las Vegas 27,378 90 RNP
University of North Dakota 14,697 90 RNP
University of South Carolina 30,721 90 115

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find information about students with cars, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The car data above are correct as of July 9, 2013.