While on-campus parking is pretty easy to find, students are going to be paying a monthly fee to stay in the parking structure. If students are going to try to park on the street, they should remember that this is a crowded city and that most parking has one- to two-hour time limits. Also, the meter maids in San Francisco are very strict, so don't expect to ever get out of a ticket from these guys. Luckily, citations can be appealed through a process. Knowing the best times to park (very early mornings or late evenings) is essential to finding parking.
A car is not essential in San Francisco, though. Public transportation is very cheap, and although it may not be the best ride of your life, students will save a lot of money this way. The best idea is to invest in a decent bike; there are lots of bike shops to find the perfect one for you. Riding a bicycle is the cheapest alternative, with plenty of parking, and it's a great way to keep off the Freshman 15, too.