This academic year, parking rates have increased to $600 for an annual pass, $120 more expensive than the 2015-16 rate. While students have shown discontent with this increased cost, parking at Vanderbilt is lower than the average of top universities. The increase was implemented to level the costs with the cost of maintaining lots and garages.
VUPD Parking Services, in coordination with University Finance, determines parking costs based on operating costs and permit sales trends. They also compare the permit prices to local parking rates and those at peer institutions. The increase in rates is not due to the split from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which occurred last spring. Rather, while student rates have not risen in two years, the costs of repairing and maintaining the parking system have fallen out of alignment with income from permit sales.
Vanderbilt spends approximately $13.3 million each year maintaining lots and providing transportation services. Even with the increased rates, income from parking permits is expected to cover only 71 percent of these costs. The university funds the remaining $2.5 million.
Following the email announcement of the increase July 29, there was backlash from students on social media. While students may not like the 25 percent increase from last year, Vanderbilt’s parking costs fall over $200 lower than the average cost of parking at the top 20 schools by U.S. News & World Report.
Parking at some schools, including University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, costs upwards of $2000 a year. Meanwhile, annual permits at Dartmouth College and Rice University are under $400, less than Vanderbilt’s rate even in previous years. Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University don’t offer student parking at all.
With regards to local parking, parking at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville costs $394 per year, while Tennessee State University includes parking costs in tuition. Belmont’s parking costs are not publicly available.
As part of the Vanderbilt University Land Use Planning Initiative launched in 2015, the Office of the Chancellor is organizing campus-wide dialogues and town hall conversations over the course of this academic year to discuss issues such as public transportation options and transportation needs.