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College Students and Recent Grads

Top Checking Accounts for College Grads

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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When you graduate college, you’ll also graduate from your student checking account. Your bank will likely transition your student account to a standard account, but you don’t have to stay there. It’s worth comparing the best banks for college graduates to find the one that best meets your needs.

After all, you don’t want to get stuck with unreasonable fees or high account minimums. To help you find the right bank, we’re going over what to look for in a checking account, along with our recommendations for banks for college graduates.

Note: All information in this report was accurate as of September 2021

5 key things you should look for in a bank account

When you’re nearing graduation, start planning your bank transition.

Many banks send a letter in the mail a few months prior to your expected graduation date informing you that your student checking account is going to transition to a non-student account. If you’re not careful and you disregard the letter, you may be transitioned into an account that charges a fee should you not meet certain requirements.

You can always call the bank and ask to switch to a different account, or you can choose a new account that offers more benefits, like interest and ATM fee refunds. If you’re shopping around for a new bank account, here are some things to look for:

  1. A $0 monthly fee: Sometimes banks say they don’t charge a monthly fee but read the fine print — they may require a minimum monthly balance to avoid it. There are plenty of free checking accounts available for you to open, so there’s no reason to stay stuck with an account that charges a monthly fee. Take note, as some accounts may require you to meet certain criteria to maintain a free account like using a debit card, enrolling in e-statements or maintaining a minimum daily balance.
  2. No minimum daily balance: Accounts without minimum daily balances mean you can have a $0 balance at any given time. This may allow you to have a free account without meeting balance requirements — although other terms may apply to maintain a free account.
  3. Annual Percentage Yield (APY): APY is the total amount of interest you will earn on balances in your account. Opening an account that earns you interest on your balance is an easy way to be rewarded for money that would typically sit without earning anything. You should definitely aim to earn a decent APY on your savings account.
  4. ATM fee refunds: You may not have access to an in-network ATM at all times, so accounts providing ATM fee refunds can reimburse you for ATM fees you may incur while using out-of-network ATMs. Those charges can add up!
  5. No or low overdraft fees: Most banks charge you an overdraft fee of around $35 if you spend more money than you have available in your account. Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose an account that has no or low overdraft fees.

Best banks for college graduates

Information current as of September 2021

Account NameMinimum Monthly BalanceAmount to OpenATM Fee RefundsAPY
Chime$0$0NoneNone
Axos Bank Rewards Checking$0$50Unlimited domesticUp to 1.00% APY if direct deposits are more than $1,000 and card use more than 15 times per month
Discover Bank$0$0NoneNone, but 1% cash back on up to $3,000 debit card purchases per month
Ally Bank$0$0Up to $10 per statement cycle0.10% to 0.25% APY depending on balance
La Capitol Federal Credit Union Choice Checking$0 (if less than $1,000, there is an $8 fee)$50Up to $25 per month4.25% APY on balances up to $3,000; 2.00% APY on balances $3,000-$10,000 and 0.10% on balances over $10,000
Consumers Credit Union (IL) Rewards Checking$0$5Unlimited ATM reimbursementsUp to 4.09% on balances up to $10,000
T-Mobile Money$0$0None4.00% APY on balances up to $3,000, 1.00% APY after that
Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union Vertical Checking$0$25Up to $15 in ATM reimbursements per month3.30% APY on balances up to $20,000

For the top overall checking accounts, we chose accounts that have no monthly service fees, no ATM fees, refunds for ATM fees from other banks and interest earned on your deposited balances. These banks also have user-friendly mobile banking apps. While there is no all-inclusive account that contains every benefit, the accounts below are sure to provide value whether you want a high interest rate, unlimited ATM fee refunds or 24/7 live customer support.

Top overall bank accounts for college grads

1. Chime

The Chime Spending Account boasts an array of features that will likely benefit young adults who are just learning how to manage their money — including fee-free overdrafts up to $100, early direct deposit, no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. Additionally, Chime offers the option to round up each transaction and deposit the difference into your linked savings account.

Note that Chime is not a bank itself — it’s a financial technology company — but it provides its banking services and FDIC insurance by partnering with the Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank.

2. Axos Bank Rewards Checking

The Axos Bank Rewards Checking account is a great option for college grads, as it offers low fees and generous rewards. There are no monthly service fees, no overdraft fees and unlimited reimbursements for domestic ATM fees. Currently, you also can earn an APY up to 1.00% if you meet the following requirements:

  • Receive monthly direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more
  • Use your Axos debit card at least 15 times per month

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on Axos Bank’s secure website

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3. Discover Cashback Debit

Next up on our list for the best banks for college graduates is Discover Bank, which takes a unique approach to checking account rewards. Instead of offering an APY on deposit balances, Discover opts for cash back as an incentive to get consumers to sign up for its checking product.

The Discover Cashback Debit account offers up to 1% cash back on $3,000 of debit card transactions per month. That coupled with its zero fees and free access to 60,000 ATMs nationwide make it one of the best checking accounts for college graduates.

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. Ally Bank

Online bank Ally Bank offers a solid checking account with minimal fees, decent APYs and other attractive perks. Its Interest Checking account charges no monthly maintenance fees and provides free access to Allpoint ATMs nationwide, as well as a $10 reimbursement per statement cycle for any other ATMs fees incurred.

Ally Bank’s APY isn’t too shabby, either: You can earn an APY of 0.25% with a $15,000 minimum balance or 0.10% with balances under $15,000. Other cool features include its Ally Skill for Amazon Alexa, which enables you to transfer money with just your voice.

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on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

A closer look at high-yield checking accounts for college grads

Since most checking accounts offer little to no interest, high-yield checking accounts are a great way for you to maximize the money that would typically just sit in your account without earning interest. These accounts often offer interest rates that fluctuate depending on how much money you have in the account.

However, in order to earn interest, there are some requirements that you may have to meet, such as making a certain number of debit card transactions or enrolling in e-statements.

1. La Capitol Federal Credit Union Choice Plus Checking

This checking account has a $2 monthly service fee, which can easily be waived if you enroll in e-statements.

While the terms state a minimum balance requirement of $1,000 and a low balance fee of $8, the fee can be waived if you make 15 or more posted non-ATM debit card transactions per month.

To earn the top interest rate on your checking balance, you just need to make at least 15 or more posted non-ATM debit card transactions per month. There are numerous surcharge-free La Capitol ATMs for you to use, and after signing up for e-statements, you can receive up to $25 per month in ATM fee refunds when you use out-of-network ATMs.

2. Consumers Credit Union (IL) Rewards Checking

The Consumers Credit Union (IL) Rewards Checking account is just that: Rewarding. It offers a tier-based APY, which includes a 4.09% APY on balances up to $10,000, 0.20% APY on balances between $10,000 and $25,000 and 0.10% APY on balances over $25,000.

In order to earn the highest APY, you must complete at least six signature-based debit purchases, receive at least one direct deposit or ACH debit or pay one bill through their free bill payment system totaling $500 or more. You also must spend $1,000 or more with a Consumers Credit Union Visa credit card each month. This account has no fees and offers unlimited ATM reimbursements if requirements are met.

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on Consumers Credit Union (IL)’s secure website

NCUA Insured

3. T-Mobile Money

Wireless carrier T-Mobile has forayed into finance with a checking account, T-Mobile Money. The account offers a generous APY of 4.00% on balances up to $3,000, with balances over that threshold earning 1.00% APY.

In order to receive the higher APY, you must meet the following requirements: Be enrolled in a qualifying T-Mobile wireless plan, be registered for perks with your T-Mobile ID and have at least 10 qualifying purchases using your T-Mobile Money card posted to your account. T-Mobile Money does not reimburse for out-of-network ATM fees, but it does not charge any maintenance fees.

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on T-Mobile MONEY’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union Vertical Checking

Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union’s Vertical Checking account doles out a generous APY of 3.30% on balances up to $20,000 if you meet the following requirements per month:

  • Make at least 15 debit card purchases
  • Make at least one direct deposit
  • Make at least one online or mobile banking login
  • Receive e-statements

This account boasts a low, minimum opening deposit of just $25 and no monthly service fee, as well as up to $15 in ATM fee reimbursements per month.

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Sallie Mae Student Loans Review for 2021

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Most students who borrow money for their education should start with federal student loans. The federal loan programs offer borrowers a variety of repayment, forgiveness, cancellation and discharge options that aren’t available from private lenders.

But if you’ve reached your federal loan limits, or examined your options and found you might be better off with a private student loan, you can compare loan offerings from private student lenders. One of the largest private student loan companies, Sallie Mae, has more than a dozen education loan products you can consider.

Here’s an in–depth look at the pros, cons and other details of Sallie Mae student loans.

Sallie Mae student loans: an overview

Started nearly 50 years ago, Sallie Mae has played a variety of roles in the student loan space, including lending federally guaranteed loans and private student loans, as well as servicing federal and private loans.

Sallie Mae spun off a portion of its student loan servicing business to form a new company, Navient, in 2014. Plus, due to changes in the federal student loan programs, Sallie Mae no longer originates federally guaranteed loans. Now, Sallie Mae only offers and services private student loans, while also offering other banking products, such as savings accounts.

Types of student loans Sallie Mae offers

Whether you’re a parent of a grade school student or about to begin your doctorate, Sallie Mae may have a student loan that fits your needs. Its loans are designed for undergraduate students, graduate students and parents or sponsors of students. It also has loans to cover the costs of medical or dental residency or preparing for the bar exam.

  1. K-12: For a parent or sponsor of a child who wants to take out a loan for a student’s private education from kindergarten through high school
  2. Career training: For students at eligible non-degree granting schools
  3. Undergraduate: For students at degree-granting schools who are earning an associate or bachelor’s degree
  4. Graduate: For students at degree-granting schools who are earning a master’s or doctorate degree
  5. Parent: For a parent or sponsor of a child who wants to take out a loan for an undergraduate, graduate or certificate program
  6. MBA: For business school students
  7. Medical school: For graduate medical degree students, including those in allopathic, osteopathic and podiatric programs
  8. Dental school: For graduate dental degree students, including those in dentistry, endodontics and orthodontics programs
  9. Health professions graduate: For graduate health profession students, including those in allied health, nursing, pharmacy and other graduate-level health degrees.
  10. Medical residency and relocation: For medical residency students to help pay for board examinations and residency-related travel and moving expenses
  11. Dental residency and relocation: For dental residency students to help pay for board examinations and residency-related travel and moving expenses
  12. Law school: For students studying for their law degree
  13. Bar study: For law students and recent graduates to help pay for bar review courses, registration and living expenses while you study

Sallie Mae Bank student loans in a nutshell

Most of Sallie Mae’s loans are identical when it comes to fees, cosigner release options and discounts.

Fees

  • Aside from the K-12 loan’s 3% disbursement fee, none of the loans have application, origination, disbursement or prepayment fees.
  • Late payments result in a fee that’s 5% of the amount due (capped at $25).
  • Returned checks carry a $20 fee.

Cosigner release

  • You can apply to release a cosigner after making 12 consecutive and on-time full interest and principal payments. However, parent loans don’t offer a cosigner release option.

Discounts

  • With all but the K-12 loans, you can receive a 0.25% interest rate discount if you sign up for automatic payments.
 K-12 loansParent loansCareer trainingUndergraduate loansGraduate loansMBA loans
Fixed APR range*Not available5.49% - 13.87%6.62% - 13.83%
4.25% - 12.59%4.75% - 12.11%
4.75% - 12.11%
Variable APR range*Check Sallie Mae website for current rates3.37% - 12.99%**
Check Sallie Mae website for current rates1.13% - 11.23%**
2.12% - 11.64%**
2.12% - 11.64%**
Loan terms3 years10 years5 to 15 years5 to 15 years15 years15 years
Loan amount$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of tuition
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
Repayment plans (both in-school and post-school)Full interest and principal paymentsFull interest and principal payments

Interest-only payments
$25 a month

Interest-only payments
Deferment

$25 a month

Interest-only payments
Deferment

$25 a month

Interest-only payments
Deferment

$25 a month

Interest-only payments

*All rates are accurate as of May 4, 2021.
**Variable rates are capped at 25%.
 Health professionsDental schoolMedical schoolMedical residencyDental residencyBar studyLaw school
Fixed APR range*Check Sallie Mae website for current ratesCheck Sallie Mae website for current rates4.75% - 11.97%
Check Sallie Mae website for current ratesCheck Sallie Mae website for current ratesCheck Sallie Mae website for current rates4.75% - 11.98%
Variable APR range*Check Sallie Mae website for current ratesCheck Sallie Mae website for current rates2.12% - 11.48%**
Check Sallie Mae website for current ratesCheck Sallie Mae website for current ratesCheck Sallie Mae website for current rates2.12% - 11.48%
Loan termsCheck Sallie Mae website for current termsCheck Sallie Mae website for current terms20 yearsCheck Sallie Mae website for current termsCheck Sallie Mae website for current termsCheck Sallie Mae website for current terms15 years
Loan amount$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to $30,000
$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to $30,000
$1,000 to $15,000$1,000 minimum

Borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance
Repayment plans (both in-school and post-school)Deferment

$25 a month

Interest-only payments
Deferment

$25 a month

Interest-only payments
Deferment

$25 a month

Interest-only payments
No payments while enrolled at least half-time and during grace periodNo payments while enrolled at least half-time and during grace periodNo payments while enrolled at least half-time and during grace periodDeferment

$25 a month

Interest-only payments

*All rates are accurate as of May 4, 2021.
**Variable rates are capped at 25%.

How Sallie Mae compares with other lenders

Sallie Mae finished first among MagnifyMoney’s top five private student lenders. We compared undergraduate student loan products and began with the nation’s 10 largest national lenders. The ranking focused on loans’ APR ranges, discounts, fees and repayment terms, as well as lenders’ policies for releasing a cosigner, deferring loan payments and their online applications.

In addition to having a top-rated undergraduate loan, Sallie Mae differentiates itself by offering a wide variety of different student loans. Many of these other loans share characteristics with the undergraduate loan, including the 12-payment cosigner release requirement, lack of a specific maximum loan amount and a 0.25% interest rate discount for auto debit.

However, as with any lender, there are pros and cons to consider before taking out a loan from Sallie Mae.

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on Sallie Mae Bank’s secure website

Lender Disclosure

Advantages of Sallie Mae Student Loans

You may be able to choose a repayment plan. Depending on the loan product, you may be able to choose from up to three different repayment plans. A plan that requires you make payments while you’re in school could help you save money in the long run; however, deferring your full payments can give you more money to cover education and living expenses now.

12-month payment requirement for cosigner release. With most Sallie Mae student loans, you can apply to release your cosigner once you make 12 consecutive, full and on-time payments (principal and interest). Other lenders may let you apply for cosigner release, but it could take longer to qualify.

In addition to the payments, you’ll need to pass a credit check and meet Sallie Mae loan requirements for releasing a cosigner.

Discharge due to death or permanent and total disability. Similar to the federal student loan guidelines, Sallie Mae will waive a borrower’s current balance if they die or become permanently and totally disabled. The benefit may be especially important to borrowers who have a cosigner or dependents, such as a spouse or child(ren), who could be affected if the debt isn’t waived.

No preset loan limit. While some federal student loans and private student loans set dollar-amount limits on how much you can borrow, most Sallie Mae student loans allow you to borrow up to your school’s certified cost of attendance.

Loans for less-than-half-time students. Some private school lenders require borrowers to have at least a half-time course load to qualify for a student loan. Sallie Mae’s loans for students don’t have this requirement.

Forbearance and deferment options. Putting your loans into forbearance or deferment lets you temporarily stop making payments without getting charged late fees or hurting your credit. Forbearance is generally for when you have trouble making payments, perhaps due to losing a job or a medical emergency. Deferment, meanwhile, may apply to other circumstances, such as returning to school.

Sallie Mae could approve up to 12 months of forbearance in three-month increments and up to 60 months of deferment in 12-month increments. Interest continues to accumulate, and your long-term costs may increase, but forbearance or deferment are still better options than missing a payment or letting a loan go into default.

Extra perks. Many of Sallie Mae’s student loans also come with the Study Smarter benefit. With it, borrowers can get four months of free study tools and 60 minutes of live online tutoring.

All of Sallie Mae’s loans also give borrowers and cosigners quarterly access to a FICO® credit score.

Drawbacks of Sallie Mae Student Loans

No additional interest rate discount. Sallie Mae’s 0.25% interest rate discount for auto debit is standard for most federal and private student loans. But other private lenders offer borrowers opportunities to get an additional 0.25% to 0.50% interest rate discount by having other financial products from the same lender or making auto debits from an account with the same lender.

Sallie Mae assigns loan terms. Many Sallie Mae student loans have a repayment term that ranges from five to 15 years. Most other lenders that offer a range of terms let borrowers choose their term, along with the corresponding monthly payment and interest rate. Sallie Mae, however, will assign you a term.

No loan preapproval. Private student loans require a credit check. Some lenders will do a soft credit pull, which doesn’t hurt your score, to determine if you can qualify for a loan or need a cosigner and to show you estimated interest rates if you qualify. Sallie Mae will only show you rates after a hard credit inquiry, which could hurt your score slightly.

What it takes to qualify with Sallie Mae

All products have the same basic Sallie Mae loan requirements:

Minimum credit score: Sallie Mae doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score requirement. In 2020, 94% of applicants that were approved for a Sallie Mae student loan had a FICO Score of 670 or above at the time of their loan’s origination.

Minimum age for borrowers: Borrowers must be the age of majority in their state (often 18 years old). Younger applicants will need an eligible and creditworthy cosigner.

State residency requirements: Sallie Mae student loans are available in every state.

Eligible schools: Sallie Mae doesn’t publish a list of eligible schools, but you can search for the name of a school at the beginning of the loan application to see if your school qualifies.

 Additional requirements
K-12 loansThe student you’re taking the loan out for has to be enrolled in a private school.
Parent loansThe student you’re taking the loan out for has to be pursuing a certificate or an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree at a degree-granting school.
Career trainingYou must be enrolled at a non-degree-granting school and pursuing professional training or a certification.
Undergraduate loansYou must be enrolled at a degree-granting school and pursuing a certification or an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Graduate loansYou must be enrolled at a degree-granting school and pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree.
MBA loansYou must be enrolled at a degree-granting school and pursuing a masters of business administration degree.
 Additional requirements
Health professionsYou must be enrolled at a degree-granting school and pursuing a degree in one of the eligible areas of study.
Dental schoolYou must be enrolled at a degree-granting school and pursuing a degree in one of the eligible areas of study.
Medical schoolYou must be enrolled at a degree-granting school and pursuing a degree in one of the eligible areas of study.
Medical residencyYou must either have a half-time course load and be in your last year at an eligible school, or graduated from an eligible school in the previous 12 months.

If you didn’t already earn your medical degree, you must expect to earn the degree in the current academic program year.
Dental residencyYou must either have a half-time course load and be in your last year at an eligible school, or graduated from an eligible school in the previous 12 months.

If you didn’t already earn your dental degree, you must expect to earn the degree in the current academic program year.
Bar studyYou must either have a half-time course load and be in your last year at an eligible school, or graduated from an eligible school in the previous 12 months.

You must take the bar exam within 12 months of graduating.
Law schoolYou must be enrolled at a degree-granting school and pursuing a J.D. degree.

What borrower is Sallie Mae best for?

Sallie Mae offers a variety of student loan products that could be a good fit for parents or students. If you, or a student you’re supporting, can’t take out additional federal student loans but need more money for school, Sallie Mae’s lack of a predefined loan limit could make it a good option.

The medical and dental residency programs and the bar study loan do have a loan limit — but, even then, it’s higher than the limit of some competitors who offer similar types of loans.

You also may want to consider Sallie Mae if you think you’ll need a cosigner and would like to release the cosigner later. Although you still may not qualify, depending on your creditworthiness, the 12 months of consecutive full payments is shorter than what some other lenders require.

Get more details via the online platform

You can learn a lot of details about Sallie Mae’s student loans on its website. There are specific pages for each loan product that have a lot of the basic information you’ll want to know. Plus, there are additional pages with generally helpful information, such as how to make a loan payment or options if you’re having trouble making payments.

Some of the informational pages, such as on the one about interest rates and interest capitalization, also have quick video explainers to help you understand the topic and why it’s important to student loan borrowers.

The actual loan application doesn’t have quite as nice of a design as the other parts of the Sallie Mae website, but it’s still relatively easy to navigate and fill out.

The fine print: What to watch out for

The Sallie Mae product and informational pages give you a lot of the basic information you’ll want if you’re comparing student loans from several lenders. There are also loan application and solicitation disclosure forms for many of the loans online. In these, you can see fine-print items, like the variable-rate loans’ interest-rate cap and late payment fees.

It’s more difficult to find fine-print information on some of the loans, though. The K-12, residency and bar loans don’t have application and disclosure forms on their pages, for example.

While you would have a chance to review your loan details after agreeing to a credit check but before signing the loan agreement, it would be nice to have that information up front. Many reputable lenders offer the ability to prequalify and view rates while submitting to only a soft credit check.

We were also disappointed in how difficult it is to understand how loan terms work with Sallie Mae student loans.

Some private lenders only offer one term. Others offer a variety of terms and let borrowers choose their loan term. Most of Sallie Mae’s undergraduate and graduate student loans have terms of five to 15 years, but Sallie Mae chooses which term to offer you.

The loan-term range and the fact that Sallie Mae chooses the term rather than the borrower aren’t clearly disclosed on the loan’s main page.

What to expect during the application process

Sallie Mae has an online loan application system that makes the process fairly uniform for all its student loans. A few questions may differ, but you can expect the process to be similar to the following steps. Applicants with cosigners may need the cosigner’s personal information, including their Social Security number and date of birth.

Basic information

General information. Basic information about the student and borrower:

  • Your name, email address and phone number
  • Your date of birth, citizenship status and Social Security number
  • Your relationship to the student, if you’re taking out a loan for someone else

Address. Your permanent address and a previous address if you moved in the last year. If you have a different mailing address you’ll have to fill that in, too.

Student and school information. If you’re taking out the loan for a student, you’ll need the student’s name, date of birth, citizenship status and Social Security number.

Enter the name of the school and your (or the student’s) academic information:

  • Degree type or certificate of study
  • Major or specialty
  • Enrollment status
  • Grade level
  • Academic period that the loan will cover
  • Anticipated graduation or certification graduate date

Loan application

Loan amount. The cost of attendance (which the application can help you estimate), as well as your estimated financial assistance.

You’ll automatically have a loan amount for the difference between your cost of attendance and financial assistance. You can choose to request less money, and even if you’re approved, Sallie Mae could offer you less than what you requested.

Employment info: Fill in information about your work, including:

  • Employment status
  • Employer’s name
  • Your occupation
  • Work phone number
  • Years with the current employer
  • Gross annual income

Financial info: You can list additional income and assets you have, such as:

  • Income from alimony, child support or a rental property
  • Investments
  • Disability
  • Social Security
  • Income from a household member, such as a spouse
  • Your current assets that could be in checking, savings, CD or money market accounts

You’ll also be asked about your expenses, including monthly housing payments (when applicable).

Personal contacts: Unless you’re taking out a loan for someone else, you’ll have to share two personal contacts that Sallie Mae can use as references. These could be a relative or family friends, and you’ll have to have their full name and phone number.

Submit application: Choose to apply on your own or add a cosigner. You’ll be prompted to read and agree to an electronic delivery consent form, and may then get a copy of the loan’s disclosure form and Sallie Mae’s privacy policy.

You’ll have to agree to let Sallie Mae review your credit history to submit your application.

Finalize the loan

Once you’ve completed an application, you may need to send verification information, such as pay stubs or tax returns. Generally, Sallie Mae will offer a quick response based on your credit.

If you’re approved, you can choose your type of interest rate and repayment plan before accepting the loan. Once you accept the loan offer, Sallie Mae will contact your school to verify that you’re eligible for the loan and loan amount.

The school certification process may take several weeks, and it could even be put on hold until about a month before your term begins. As long as everything checks out, Sallie Mae will send the loan to you or your school, depending on the type of loan.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

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Switching From a Student to a Non-Student Bank Account

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

 

If you’re wondering how to change your student account to a normal account, we’ve got good news for you: Your bank will probably do this for you automatically. You’re only eligible for a student account and the incentives that come with it while you’re enrolled in school or meet another requirement.

Once you graduate, age out or otherwise become ineligible, your bank will likely switch your student account over to a standard account. At this point, it’s up to you to decide whether to stick with your current bank or change to a new one.

Let’s take a closer look at what causes a student account to change to a standard one, as well as how to choose the right bank account for you.

How to change your student account to a normal account

As a college student, you’re seen as a hot commodity to banks. To entice you, banks will offer exclusive deals, such as free banking during your college years. However, when you become ineligible, your account will switch to a standard one, and all those perks and savings will come to an end.

Here are some common requirements you may need to meet to have a student account (note that these may vary by bank, so check with yours to see its specific criteria):

  • You’re enrolled in college
  • You’re between the ages of 17 and 24
  • You’ve had your student account for 5 years

Once you graduate, turn 25 or have your account for longer than the specified time frame, the bank will likely change your student account to a normal one. If you have extenuating circumstances, such as not graduating on time, let your bank know. It might be able to extend your eligibility while you’re in school.

Whether or not you’ve already switched to a standard account, it’s worth exploring your options to find the best bank account for you. After all, you don’t want to waste your money on unnecessary fees when you can switch banks and protect your cash.

Fees to avoid when choosing a non-student bank account

Here are a few tips on how to avoid costly banking fees while you’re shopping around for the best “non-student” banking deal for you. Specifically, let’s look at the following:

Monthly fee

When you first graduate from college, you may be living from paycheck to paycheck, with minimal money in your account. Monthly fees for bank accounts can add up quickly, so look for a bank that has no minimum deposit amount and no monthly fees.

A minimum deposit is a set amount of money you’ll need to keep in checking, or else the bank will slap you with a monthly charge. As an example, for Bank of America’s Advantage Plus account, you need to either have a qualifying direct deposit of $250 each month or a daily minimum of $1,500 in your account. Otherwise, Bank of America will charge you a maintenance fee of $12.

These fees are waived for students, but college grads get the unhappy gift of a “real-world” account. Beware — if you’re searching for a job and don’t have a direct deposit going into your Bank of America account each month (or a spare $1,500 sitting in there each day), you’re going to get charged a monthly fee.

Try to keep up with any requirements to avoid fees, or search for a bank with more lenient rules.

Overdraft fee

Big banks can charge you a fee per incident when you go overdraft. These fees can be as high as $35 per overdraft charge. Charges like this can add up quickly, and when you have a low balance in your checking account, it’s easy to make a mistake.

You may have signed up for overdraft protection, but many of the big banks still charge a fee to transfer money from your savings account to cover the cost of overdraft. Make sure you choose an account that doesn’t punish your mistakes with massive fees or nonsense charges to move your money.

ATM fee

Many internet-only banks offer free ATM visits at any ATM in the country. In some cases, you’ll be charged initially, but your bank will reimburse you for the fee.

Returned deposit fee

If you deposit a check that bounces, some banks charge a fee. Big banks can charge up to $19 for returned deposit items, and $40 for an internationally returned deposit item — however, some smaller banks and credit unions don’t charge a fee. Hopefully you won’t encounter any bounced checks, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Lost debit card fee

If you’ve misplaced your debit card, it will typically cost you up to $7.50 to replace — and if you need it replaced ASAP, then it could cost you up to a hefty $25 expedited delivery fee for a new shiny piece of plastic.

To lessen the blow, you don’t have to request expedited delivery on your new card — you can simply use cash you have on hand or a credit card for payments until the new debit card arrives.

Paper statement fee

Some banks charge customers $5 for paper statements. To avoid this fee, search for a bank that waives this fee or look into an account that enables you to bank entirely electronically.

Returned mail fee

When you move, a mail-forwarding request with your post office may not be good enough for your bank. Many banks print “return service requested” on their envelopes, so your mail gets sent back to the bank if it can’t be delivered, upon which a number of banks charge a fee.

These fees can add up, so make sure you update your address with your bank upon moving.

Human teller fee

Some banks charge a fee for using a person to handle transactions. If you’d like the ability to consult a teller, seek out bank accounts that don’t levy this charge.

How to eliminate bank fees

Don’t limit your banking options to banks with branches. Consider internet-only banks, like Ally, Axos Bank and Charles Schwab’s online banking, which often don’t have monthly maintenance fees or ATM fees and offer higher interest rates. Credit unions also tend to levy fewer (and cheaper) fees than traditional banks.

In fact, if you’re interested in opening a savings account, credit unions and internet-only banks often pay higher interest rates on savings accounts than brick-and-mortar banks. Luckily, you don’t have to do all of the work when searching for a fee-free checking account with perks — MagnifyMoney’s got you covered. Just fill out the simple tool here to find a checking account.

Now that you’re aware of these fees, you can take necessary steps to avoid the ones that may put a strain on your finances. After all, as a new graduate, these pesky fees should be the last of your worries.

When all else fails, keep in mind that you’re not obligated to stay with your current bank. If you’re not too fond of the features they offer, consider switching to a different one. Chances are, you’ll find a convenient institution where you can bank without being charged these annoying fees.

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