The Ultimate Guide to Car Discounts for College Students and Grads

Student Car DealsAfter graduating college, one way to start building credit is by purchasing or leasing a car.  Fortunately, most car brands offer cash incentives to students and recent college graduates to win over brand loyalty early in life.

Let's take a closer look at how to qualify and the requirements for each of these college auto savings programs.

At the bottom, we also list all the current discounts for students and grads offered by each manufacturer.

Related: See our picks for best cars for students

How to Qualify for a Student Discount

To qualify for a student car discount you typically have to meet two main requirements.

  • You are a current college student or recent grad
  • You have a job or a job commitment

Education Requirements

Education RequirementsQualifications vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but they generally apply to those who have graduated in the past two years or will graduate within the next six months.

Chevrolet (other brands from GM used to offer student discounts but removed them in 2022) goes through the GM College Discount Program and this special applies to:

  • Current college and graduate students
  • Graduated within the past two years from a two or four-year college.

Ford and Lincoln offer discounted pricing to active college students and recent grads. But they extend the discount to:

  • Active Trade School, Community College, Graduate Students
  • High School Seniors or Recent High School Graduates with a letter of intent to attend university
  • Medical Student residencies

Toyota, Lexus, Acura are the only manufacturers to list that nursing school students are applicable for their deals.

While most require diplomas from a two or four-year college or university, Ford, Lexus, Lincoln, and Toyota specify that any student from a technical or trade school is also eligible for their discounted program.

Employment & Credit Requirements

Employment RequirementsMost, if not all programs require that graduating or recently graduated students have a job or an employment commitment after graduation. The employment period must start within a range of 90-120 days of contract. You will need to show proof of employment (pay stub) or proof of firm commitment from an employer.

Some companies do not ask for employment but will make sure your monthly payment doesn’t exceed your total monthly income (along with living expenses). For example, BMW will make sure your debt-to-income ratio does not exceed 45%.

Not many of the manufacturer bonus programs ask for a credit requirement, but those that do specify your credit must be in good standing with no adverse history and typically at least 6 months of credit history. Audi is the only program to offer deals to graduates with no credit history and without a co-signer.

What to Bring to the Dealership

Student Discount What to Bring to DealershipAll national dealerships should recognize manufacturers' recent graduate discount programs. You will need to bring the following with you:

  • Valid driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance and insurance agent contact info
  • Copy of your degree or transcript and contact info of your College/University
  • Proof of income or full-time employment and contact info for your HR or payroll of company or
  • Proof of commitment to full-time employment
  • A few dealerships may ask for personal references

GM College Discount requires an authorization code before purchase which can be obtained through their site.

Best Deals for College Students and Graduates

Best Deals for College Students and GraduatesOut of all the different bonus programs for students and graduates, Lexus offers the program to the widest range of students including nursing and trade school students, and it has a higher than average cash back deal of $1,000.

The main caveat to most of these student discounts is that you are required to finance or lease through the manufacturer’s financial service.

 

Below are some of the best car deals for new graduates.

ManufacturerProgram NameSpecial Offers & DiscountsEligibility & RequirementsExpiration
AcuraAcura College Graduate Program$500 off purchase/lease on 2021 or newer (excludes NSX)Graduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitmentOngoing
AudiAudi College Graduate ProgramEligible for flexible terms and ratesGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitment, Monthly payment cannot exceed 25% of monthly incomeOngoing
BMWBMW College Graduate Program$1,000 off purchase/lease on new or pre-ownedGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, 6 months of credit history, Debt-to-income ratio below 45%Ongoing
ChevroletGM College DiscountUp to $1,000 off purchase/lease on 2020 or newerCurrent college student or graduated in the past 2 years1/3/2023
FordFord Drive U$500 off lease or $750 off purchase on 2021 or newerCurrent college/trade student or graduated in the past 3 years, High School Seniors1/3/2023
HondaHonda College Graduate Program$500 off purchase/lease on 2020 or newerGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitmentOngoing
HyundaiHyundai College Grad Program$400 off purchase/leaseGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitment1/2/2023
InfinitiInfiniti College Graduate ProgramEligible for flexible financing optionsGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitmentOngoing
LexusLexus College Graduate Program$1,000 off purchase/leaseGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitment1/3/2023
LincolnLincoln College Plan$500 off lease or $750 off purchase on 2021/2022Current college/trade student or graduated in the past 3 years, High School Seniors1/3/2023
Mercedes-BenzRising Star College Graduate ProgramEligible for special finance offers, under $50,000Graduated in past 2 years, Proof of IncomeOngoing
NissanNissan College Grad Program$500 off existing offersGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitmentOngoing
SubaruSubaru College Graduate ProgramEligible for special finance and lease offersRecent and soon-to-be graduatingOngoing
ToyotaToyota College Grad Program$500 off purchase/leaseGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitmentOngoing
VolkswagenCollege Grad Bonus$500 off purchase/leaseGraduated in past 2 years or next 6 months, Full-time employment or commitment1/3/2023
VolvoVolvo Graduate ProgramEligible for flexible financing optionsRecent graduates with full-time jobOngoing




These offers may vary based on location, credit score, and financing terms and are not guaranteed.  So use my free service to Check Discount Car Prices to get the best prices that include current manufacturer offers and incentives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What car companies give student discounts?

Chevy, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, Toyota, and several others.

How much is a student discount for cars?

Discounts range from $500 to as high as $1,000 depending on the brand.

What are the requirements to qualify for a student discount?

Terms vary by brand but generally, you must be graduating within the next six months or have graduated within the past two years.

Do two-year degrees or trade schools qualify?

Yes, certain manufacturers like Ford and Lincoln offer discounts for two-year and trade school students.

Do high school seniors and high school graduates qualify for car discounts?

Ford and Lincoln extend student discounts to high school seniors or recent high school graduates with a letter of intent to attend a university.