BANKS are offering third-level students free cash, interest-free loans and discount deals for restaurants and retail outlets as they attempt to sign them up.
It is estimated that around 200,000 students are heading to college for the first time or going back to the lecture halls this week.
Banks are aware that people tend to stay with the bank they sign up to in college, and will have a focus on those starting college for the first time.
KBC Bank is offering €100 in cash to those who sign up to its current account - the first time since the collapse in the economy that a cash incentive has been offered by a bank.
AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Permanent also have special discount deals.
And all five banks are offering free banking to students, a survey carried out by Simon Moynihan of price comparison site Bonkers.ie found.
"No matter which bank account you choose, you won't have to worry about fees and charges and can focus on the nicer things like free money, free loans and great discounts," he said.
The sign-up freebies and incentives are not as generous as during the Celtic Tiger boom, when free flights were on offer.
However, there are more free offers being thrown at students this year than in the last six years.
Finance experts warned students to be careful about running up big borrowings during their college years. Mr Moynihan recommended AIB's Student Plus Account which offers an interest-free overdraft up to €1,000, a loan that only requires interest payments while the student is still in college, and a student Leap card voucher.
The bank also a separate personal loan for students for up to €50,000 which is the largest in the market. Repayments can be delayed. Its credit card has an interest rate of 3.83pc for the first year.
Bank of Ireland is offering 20pc discounts for students who sign up for its current account at restaurants, shops and cafes. Students are also being enticed with a nine-month, interest-free overdraft offer. There is also a discounted loan of €10,000 which students can take up to five years to repay.
New entrant to the current account market, KBC Bank, is offering €100 to students who sign up. A deposit of €50 will be made once an account is opened, and another €50 will be put into the account if the debit card is used 10 times before year's end.