Banking in College

Transitioning from your piggy bank to a financial institution

Gone are the days of saving your money in a piggy bank. College expenses call for a more mature financial strategy. If you are attending school away from home, consider opening a student account with a local bank on campus; everyday transactions and problems will be easier to take care of when your bank isn’t miles away. Here are some banking basics to get you started.

Which Account Suits Your Needs?

There are two standard bank accounts: checking and savings. The first and most common is a checking account, which offers broad access and no interest. Savings accounts usually have less access by limiting the number of transactions but offer an interest rate.

Which Bank Suits Your Needs?

  1. Does the bank offer online services? Online banking offers 24/7 access to your account. Transactions are instant and spending is tracked, which can be helpful for any person on a budget. In addition, online bill pay and the ease of transferring funds to or from other accounts is especially convenient for a college student living away from home.
  2. How many ATMs are located near campus and at home? Once again, choose the bank that is most convenient for you.
  3. What are the bank’s fees like? Look into overdraft fees, the penalty for bounced checks, and if your account must have a minimum balance.
  4. What additional services are provided? Most banks will already provide you with a debit /check card or direct deposit when you open your account. However, think about your future banking needs. Would you feel comfortable opening other accounts with the bank such as Money Market accounts, CDs, or loans?

Should You Co-Sign with Your Parents?

Joint banking allows your parents to have access to your account. Your parents can transfer funds online and help you manage your financial responsibility.

What Is a Credit Union?

Many universities have a student and faculty credit union where you can open an account. Credit unions work in the same way as a regular bank; however, they are nonprofit and owned by their members. That means that instead of returning profits to shareholders, credit unions will return their profits to members in the form of lower rates and charges.


This article was written by Krista Bradley

Krista Bradley is a former staff editor for Krista writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.


  1. Scott S.

    Credit unions are the way to go! Lower-cost services, friendly staff and low loan rates (when you are ready to borrow). You can even keep your accounts after you graduate. And, like the author said, profits go back into the credit union (not to stock hodlers) which makes the organization stronger. Win-win!

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