By  Thu Jul 12, 2012

Some Student Checking Accounts Will Lose Perks

B Rosen / Flickr source

In the current financial climate, college students have it tough. The rapidly rising costs of a college education often leads to a mountain of student loan debt. Yet, tuition and loans aren’t the only places that students shoulder increasing financial burden. Everyday banking is getting more expensive for them too.

Starting mid-August, TD Bank’s student checking account will no longer refund a single overdraft fee per academic year — every overdraft will now cost $35. Also in August, SunTrust Bank’s student checking account will no longer offer a reduced first-overdraft fee ($25 instead of $36). SunTrust will also stop refunding two non-SunTrust ATM transactions per month.

These upcoming changes are just a sliver of the massive overhauls in checking accounts throughout the banking industry in recent years.

In 2010, Bank of America discontinued its student checking account, called CampusEdge checking, and began offering its current eBanking account, which requires online statements and electronic/ATM deposits and withdrawals to avoid a $8.95 monthly fee. The CampusEdge checking accounts was free and offered a one-time refund of an overdraft, overdraft protection transfer, stop payment or non-BofA ATM fee.

Faced with increasing financial regulation, many banks eliminated free checking, raised account and service fees and slashed perks. Evidently, some of these measures are trickling down to student checking accounts, which tend to be the least costly of checking accounts.

Silver linings

Losing an overdraft-forgiveness program may offer a much-needed lesson to young adults to keep accounts well-funded. A 2008 FDIC study found that 46.4 percent of young adult accountholders incurred overdrafts, and of those, 15 percent posted more than 10 overdrafts in one year. And, ATM-fee refunds are helpful for college students who tend to have a spontaneous need for cash.

After August, of the 10 largest U.S. banks, BB&T will be the only one that offers a fee-forgiveness perk for student customers. Citibank, U.S. Bank and BB&T will be the only ones that waive non-bank ATM fees on student checking accounts.

Despite the negative changes to some student checking accounts, monthly fees went relatively unscathed. Seven of the top 10 banks, which include TD Bank and SunTrust, do not charge a monthly account fee with proof of active-student status for five years. PNC Bank is the only one that still offers absolutely-free checking, which means that is no need for a student-labeled account.

Fortunately, like regular consumers, college students are not limited to the big banks. Online banks and credit unions can offer student-friendly perks and benefits on their checking accounts.

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