By Josie Wilkerson

Homecoming at the University of Missouri, while being the first of its kind, is a day filled with what you would typically expect. Family and friend-filled tailgates, colorful displays of school pride, and expensive parking violations.

I can still remember my friend’s quiet sobs as we drove to retrieve her towed car. It was 2018 and I was a freshman who didn’t understand the difficulties of navigating campus parking. $200 was a devastating blow to my friend’s bank account, as it would be to any college kid navigating finances alone. Her mistake resulted in more hours at work, fewer hours focusing on school, and a near-missed rent payment.

While parking in the wrong place on campus is not usually as swiftly punished, large events like homecoming and a misplaced car can put a dent in anyone’s saving. Parking, in general, can be a difficult and not often thought of expense that can catch most students off guard.

According to the University of Missouri parking and transportation rates, it costs $154 to park in an uncovered lot and $180 to park in a covered structure a year (University of Missouri, Student Regulations). While it is certainly beneficial to have a designated parking spot, there are other factors such as residential living and seniority to consider when understanding exactly where your vehicle will be parked.

Students living on campus, especially higher years, receive close and on-campus spots by their dormitories. If you are a student living off-campus, it is most likely you will receive a parking spot that requires a shuttle or a long walk to reach central campus. This is something to consider when living off-campus as a $154 to $180 parking spot that requires extra travel time may not be as beneficial as you expect.

Off-campus living, however, can offer amenities such as a shuttle or bus that is free to residents to be dropped off and picked up at campus. This is a wonderful resource, however, unexpected delays such as traffic or shuttle maintenance can also impede this resource.

Let’s say I’m running late! I live off-campus, missed my shuttle bus and do not have a parking permit for the campus. I drive my personal car and park in a parking garage on campus. After class, I find a parking ticket on my car. For this infraction, I will be cited a $25 fee which if I repeat seven times will turn into a $75 charge each time after according to the University of Missouri parking citation rates.

While parking seven times in a paid spot does seem excessive, $25 charges on a budgeted student would not be the most cost-effective scheduling mishap. Under the table selling of parking permits is also a costly infraction at MU. A $150 fine will be charged to any students learned to have sold their permit to any needing friends or acquaintances of a parking spot.

Let’s say I left my car in a campus parking structure for a couple of days without a permit. Tiger Towing, a towing service used by the Univerity of Missouri, would most likely have my vehicle. Now that my vehicle is impounded, I may face similar charges like my friend, that add up to $200 to get it released.

According to Dirt Legal, this fee is usually not a set price, prices can range from $100 to $1,000 depending on vehicle size that affects transportation fees, the impound release correlated to events and demand, and how long a car may be impounded, adding hundreds on per day. If I’m not careful and mindful, the wrong parking spot can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars lost.  Certainly, if you attend school in an urban area, the costs could be higher!

My advice is to make sure to budget for parking infractions and always remember where your car is parked. College is a busy time! Your car and where it’s parked may not always be your main priority. However, disregarding parking rules, especially for long periods of time can be the largest headache and money waster of your college career.

Wilkerson is a senior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.