Students at Risk for High Overdraft Fees

It’s not surprising to read that college students tend to have more bank overdrafts than the average consumer.  After all, they’re often managing money on their own for the first time.  Add to that the fact that they have limited resources, and that in many cases they receive their funds in one sum at the beginning of a semester, and then have to carefully stretch that money throughout several months. It takes a while to learn the skills required to manage effectively and avoid overdrafts.

A recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau identifies another risk to students: if their school spirit leads them to sign up for a debit card branded with the school logo or mascot, the fees they incur for each overdraft may be higher than average.  That’s right: just because the card is branded by your school does not mean it’s the best card for you.  Colleges do not always ensure competitive fee structures in the products included in their marketing agreements.

The risk for students is real: for students with limited resources, extra fees of even $100 – $200 can impact school success.  Students running short on money may skip purchasing key books, may work more hours and sacrifice study, or may simply become discouraged and quit.  Fortunately there is also good news – this report suggests clear strategies for minimizing the risk:

  1. Comparison shop when choosing banking services, just as when buying shoes or refrigerators.  Brand is not the only factor to consider.
  2. Provide guidance and support to college students to help them learn critical financial management skills and avoid costly lessons. Parents and other concerned adults can alert students to the need and monitor their financial well-being, with a goal of catching problems early. Students themselves, if made aware of the issue, can increase their financial vigilance.

This article from FINRA provides more information.

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

More Posts


Subscribe to “MoneyTip$”

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner