The free checking account has no monthly service fee, minimum balance or direct deposit requirements. It also includes a free check card and free online banking will BillPay.
Probably the number one feature that students require is easy and free access to ATMs. Wachovia has what it calls College Connections to help with this. By linking the student's account with the parents' Wachovia checking account, Wachovia will waive its fees for four withdrawals and other transactions per month at other banks' ATMs.
This article from The Daily Free Press describes the competition among four banks with branches on Boston University's campus. Bank of America has the largest presence and the advantage of the most ATMs. It even has a 5 year free checking program for students.
The smaller and local Century Bank tries to compete with personalized services. It also has a checking account, which unlike Bank of America, is free without any limitations. It may not have as many ATMs, but they are strategically located on the campus, and Century Bank allows 4 free monthly transactions at other banks' ATMs. And like Wachovia, the campus branches have a signup bonus, but instead of iTunes, it's $25 cash.
Another small local bank, Sovereign Bank, has similar deals as Century Bank. One additional service is free incoming domestic wire transfers.
Finally, the article mentioned Citizens Bank. It's a bank more like Bank of America with free checking accounts that have some limitations.
I'm surprised the article didn't mention anything about Boston University's Credit Union. Just like any other credit unions, university credit unions often have better deals than the banks. However, I was only able to find the University Credit Union which seems to only serve employees of Boston University. There's no mention of students.