Incentives, Just for Recent Grads

Friday, April 7, 2006

Most car manufacturers offer programs for new college graduates, hoping that a first car purchase will lead to brand loyalty  that is, repeat purchases of a particular vehicle type. The programs include incentives such as rebates, special financing rates and a delayed first payment. All require approved credit, but some forgive minor credit blemishes; lack of a long credit history is generally overlooked.

Proof of enrollment or graduation from an accredited college, university, trade school or nursing program is usually required. Master's and doctoral students also accepted. Eligibility for the programs vary. Some allow participants to have graduated within the past two years, or for a planned graduation within the next six months; others are more restrictive. Current employment with sufficient income, or a job offer letter stating you'll start work within 90 to 120 days, is also usually required. Some programs exclude certain vehicles; see your local dealer or the Web sites below for more information.

-- Audi College Grad Lease/Purchase programs. Less credit history needed for approval; offers competitive rates and payment plans for renters and buyers

-- BMW College Graduate Program. Buy or lease a new or pre-owned BMW (three years old or newer). BMW's program includes flexible financing and leasing terms and competitive rates.

-- DaimlerChrysler College Grad Program. Get up to $1,000 off the cost of selected new Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles, plus qualify for incentives. Grads using this program may also get "easy-pay" plans including deferred first payment, with no payments required until four months after signing agreement; graduated monthly payments (lower payments at start, increased later); or a combination of those options.

-- Ford College Student Purchase Program. Buy or lease a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury. The program includes $500 cash back, plus you qualify for current incentives.

-- General Motors. The company -- which makes Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn vehicles -- offers a pilot college graduate program available only in northern and central U.S. states.

-- Honda and Acura Graduate Programs. These programs offer easier approval for financing or leasing, with a small down payment.

-- Hyundai College Graduate Program. You could qualify for down payment and a $400 incentive, plus current rebates, using this program.

-- Kia College Graduate Program. With this program you qualify for a $400 rebate plus incentives for new Kias; rebate must be used for down payment.

-- Lexus College Graduate Program. No money down for financing; security deposit waived for leases. The program also offers deferred first payment and free roadside assistance for one year.

-- Mazda College Graduate Program. Buy or lease a new Mazda via a pilot program -- available April through June -- that offers $500 bonus cash in selected U.S. cities.

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