Parking is complicated. All undergraduates apply online for their top three lot or deck choices. Each lot and deck has a code, and can be found on the map on the Parking Services Web site. The prices vary according to the location of the space. No undergrad is guaranteed to get one of his or her top three choices. For that matter, no undergrad is guaranteed to get any spot at all, but they do the best they can. Anyone dissatisfied with the space they are given, or students who did not receive anything, remain in the lottery, and it is run every so often to ensure that the spots given up are offered to others in an effort to alleviate the parking madness. A new deck was built at the East Campus Village that offers 850 spaces for students. Parking illegally is a common offense on UGA's campus. Parking Services religiously scours every lot and every floor of every deck several times a day to make sure the proper tags or stickers are displayed. If you park illegally, even for five minutes, there's a good chance you'll get caught.
Relying on just finding a random spot close to campus is not something I would recommend to anyone. If you live off campus, and don't get a spot you like in the lottery, don't just assume you'll be able to find a street spot every weekday morning. After five, if you have a meeting or want to study at the SLC, there is a free lot right next to it. Also, the faculty lot behind the journalism building is available after five. The pay lot at the Tate Center does not charge students after 10 p.m., and is also close to the SLC.