Automakers Offer Unadvertised Incentives To Recent Graduates

Recent graduates shopping for a new car may be eligible for incentives offered by several automakers. The incentives are rarely advertised, unknown even to most dealers.

•Toyota offers a $400 rebate to recent graduates, and requires proof of graduation;
•Nissan offers a $500 rebate to recent graduates;
•Ford offers a $500 rebate to recent graduates, or students in the last half-year of school.

Incentives from other automakers take several forms, including lower rates and deferred payments. Each offer varies, so be sure not only to ask the dealer, but to get details directly from the automaker. Though incentives help, greater savings can be earned by doing your homework before setting foot in a dealership. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Some Automakers Offer Incentives to New College Grads [KABC]
(Photo: Justin Russell)

Update: Our resident car expert clarifies: “They do actually advertise these incentive deals — but they don’t advertise them in the mainstream. What they do is either buy lists from alumni organizations and do mailings to them, or they advertise in school newspapers, etc. Dealers in big college towns, for instance in East Lansing and Ann Arbor, MI, are well aware of the incentive programs and actively push them to young-looking folks who come in to buy.”

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  1. TheCheez says:

    The best way to find out and apply a student rebate is fairly simple. This is what I did when I bought in Canada, but things may be slightly different in the US.

    Research the manufacturer’s web page. Some companies offer up to $1000 but only on specific models.

    Negotiate the price of the vehicle first – then show your hand. Its a manufacturer rebate, the dealer shouldn’t deny it.

    Don’t forget your documents. For most companies the rebate is good for up to 2 years after grad.

  2. uricmu says:

    I’m not sure about “unadvertised” graduate rebates, but the advertised ones are often part of a finance deal.

    I’ve recently (early May) bought a new Toyota. There was an advertised “recent graduate” rebate, but it was only to those who use financing. Between the “administrative charge”, and the possible impact on my credit history for having such a line of credit, I decided to skip it.

  3. emilu says:

    When I bought my Scion in January I had to dig online to find the recent graduate rebate. The dealership never mentioned it, but when I did, they honored it, and it required me to finance. I ended up financing the minimum amount and paying it off after the first statement. For about $30 in interest I saved $400. Not to mention the years in grad school to be a “recent graduate” at 27.

  4. jwissick says:

    Ford also makes offers to honor society members like Phi Theta Kappa.

  5. BaysideWrestling says:

    GM does the same thing, but also extends it to graduate students. I finished my M.Ed. at age 33, and was able to get $750 off the price of a Vue at Saturn because of their “Recent College Graduate” program, and that was in 2002. So don’t think you have to be a 22-year-old with a bachelor’s to take advantage of these deals.

  6. MBPharmD says:

    I bought my Scion (which is really a Toyota) right after graduation and they threw in 2 years free roadside assistance and the option of 4 months deferred payments (which would, of course, only make the rest of your monthly payments go up, so I passed).

    Thankfully I never needed the roadside assistance so in the end they didn’t give me a damn thing “extra”. A nice gesture I suppose.

  7. TWinter says:

    This is not a new thing – I got junk mail offering me special new grad deals when I graduated back in 1993.

  8. Also make sure to check with your school’s career service office. Automakers often have special deal packages there to hand out to new graduates.

    [www.tian.cc]

  9. squikysquiken says:

    I got a new graduate rate when I bought my first new car. I had no credit history at all and I still got a great rate. It was a good way for me to start building a good credit history for loans (instead of just credit cards).

  10. Thrust says:

    Toyota’s real sweet about their grad program. They give you two YEARS after graduating to buy a new car, the discount ranges from $500 (most models), to $1000 (SUV’s, Trucks, and expensive models).

    Wasn’t gonna complain about half a grand off my new Matrix.

  11. beyond says:

    Only if you tell them you are a recent grad AFTER you have already worked them down on the price. Otherwise they are just giving you $1,000 off that you probably could have negotiated anyway.

  12. Rahnee says:

    Receiver of the Nissan grad credit here. All you have to do is ask for it.

  13. krunk4ever says:

    Either way, even with the incentive, I’d think you’d still be much better off negotiating for a better price, since I’m pretty sure the graduate discount is only available for off the sticker price.

  14. bmwloco says:

    I work for VW; they have a college grad program that’s pretty nice: 1 free payment, interest rate that’s best (unless you already have bad credit) and a standard 4 year, 50,000 warranty plus roadside assitance.

    And it’s a VW, not some econo-box.

  15. Thrust says:

    @beyond: Can’t speak for GM or Ford, but Toyota’s discount is from Toyota, not the dealership, so they can still be talked down from the price with it included (and Toyota claims their prices aren’t negotiable too lol)…

    I got $300 off the price, a free hood deflector, free oil/filter for seven years, and then still got the 500 for graduating. Then my friend who refered me to the dealership got a hundred for the referral which we were gonna split, but he ninja’d off with my half.

  16. Mitsubishi gave me 500 off from the factory in Sept 2006 for graduating just under 2 years earlier.

  17. ingridc says:

    I believe it’s been mentioned in previous car-buying tips on Consumerist, but Edmunds.com lists all current incentives and rebates for all brands of new cars. See here (and make sure to change the ZIP code to your own).

  18. bnissan97 says:

    I have bought a handful of new cars since 1990 for me and assisted my mother. Every time the New Graduate incentive came up. So this is nothing new. Been going on for years. I really don’t have any issue with it.

  19. WMeredith says:

    I just bought my wife an ’08 Scion xB.

    They bumped her up a “credit tier” which knocked a full point off our loan, they gave us $400 cash back, and they put her first car payment out 45 days.

    All we had to do was show them a diploma.