Back to school: Should you rent a U-Haul or pay movers?

Some people need more than mom's minivan to get to school.
Some people need more than mom's minivan to get to school.
Ariel Skelley/Riser/Getty Images

Another summer over and it's time to go back to school. Unfortunately, in discussing things with your roommate, you drew the short end of the stick, and you're responsible for all the big items that will make that dorm room feel like home. Your roommate will be able to pull up to the front door of your dormitory with all his stuff loaded up in the back of his mom's station wagon, while you have to figure out a way to get the futon, the big-screen television, the microwave and the minifridge back to school. That's on top of your clothes, comforter, desktop computer and textbooks. There's also the lifetime supply of laundry detergent that your mother insists upon sending with you, a talisman she believes will protect her from loads of dirty clothes coming home at fall break. And don't forget your tuba for marching band!

Clearly, this will take a ride with a larger load capacity than your parents' two-door sports car. But what to do: rent a moving van or pay movers to do it for you? This is the kind of tough decision you didn't expect to have to make until your first pop quiz!

This decision, like the correct answer in a pop-quiz situation, will require a little research and homework. Ultimately, we can't tell you the right answer, and we can't even plug in all the numbers for you -- after all, we may never write another article again if we got estimates for every moving job. But we can tell you some of the factors that you should consider that will make solving this equation a little easier. Get your No. 2 pencil and notepads ready, and turn the page.