PNC Student Loans Review

PNC knocks half a point off your interest rate if you set up automatic payments

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PNC Bank personal loan
Investopedia’s Rating
4.0

Our Take

PNC offers a handful of loan options for all kinds of students and is generous to those who set up automatic payments. The lender can be particularly appealing if you want to refinance your student loans but didn't graduate.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Relatively large interest rate discount for automatic payments

  • Co-signer release is available

  • No degree is required to refinance

Cons
  • No pre-qualification tool

  • No options for international students

  • Limited repayment terms

Key Takeaways
  • PNC Bank offers a range of private student loans, as well as refinance loans.
  • Loans are available to borrowers in all 50 states.
  • Interest rates don't vary much between the different loan types.
  • The lender doesn't charge any fees outside of a late payment fee.
  • Details on loan forbearance options are murky.
Company Overview

PNC Bank is a full-service bank headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It offers a variety of banking and loan products and services, including private student loans and student loan refinancing. PNC only has physical branches in 28 states and the District of Columbia, but its student loans are available in all 50 states.

The bank has a good reputation among consumers, ranking second in the 2022 J.D. Power National Banking Study. 

  • Year Founded 1852
  • Official Website www.pnc.com
  • Loans Offered Undergraduate, graduate, professional, refinance
  • Customer Service Phone: (800) 762-1001; Website contact form

PNC Student Loans: Quick Look

Loan Type Variable APR*  Fixed APR* 
Undergraduate loan 5.14%–12.89% 4.49%–12.24%
Graduate loan  4.89%–12.64%  4.24%–11.99% 
Medical school loan  4.89%–12.64%  4.24%–11.99% 
Medical residency loan  4.89%–12.64%  4.24%–11.99% 
Bar study loan  4.89%–12.64%  4.24%–11.99% 
Refinance loan  5.14%–14.39% 4.49%–13.74% 

*Rates include a 0.50% discount for automated payments

Research and compare the best private student loans to ensure you're getting the best interest rates and terms. Student loans usually take a long time to pay off, so making the effort to shop around could pay off in a big way.

Pros Explained

  • Relatively large interest rate discount for automatic payments: You can often get a discount on your interest rate if you set up automatic payments, but most lenders only offer a 0.25% discount. With PNC, you'll be able to reduce your rate by 0.50%.
  • Co-signer release is available: If you make 48 consecutive on-time monthly payments and can meet the lender's credit requirements on your own, you can remove your co-signer from their obligation on the loan. The 48-month requirement is longer than other lenders that offer this feature, but it's better than not having the option at all.
  • No degree is required to refinance: Many student loan refinancing companies require that you have an associate degree or even a bachelor's degree to be able to refinance your student debt. While you'll pay a higher rate with PNC without a degree, the option is available.

Cons Explained

  • No pre-qualification tool: Many student loan companies allow you to get a rate quote with just a soft credit check, which won't damage your credit. With PNC, you'll need to submit an official application and undergo a hard credit check to see your offer.
  • No options for international students: Even if you have a co-signer who's a U.S. citizen, you can't get approved for PNC student loans if you aren't a citizen or permanent resident. 
  • Limited repayment terms: For in-school loans, you can choose from 5, 10, or 15 years, and refinance loans also include a 20-year option. In contrast, some other lenders may offer more flexibility with your loan terms, which can help with budgeting.

Student Loans Offered by PNC

Undergraduate Student Loans

If you're an undergraduate student, you can enjoy no application or origination fees and choose between three payment plans: immediate, interest-only, and deferred. Eligible borrowers can get up to $50,000 annually.

Terms for Undergraduate Loans
Variable APR 5.12%–12.89%
Fixed APR  4.49%–12.24% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000–$50,000 
Loan Terms  5, 10, or 15 years 

Graduate Student Loans

If you're pursuing a master's or doctoral degree, you can again borrow up to $65,000 each year. These loans also charge no application or origination fees, and you can choose between an immediate, interest-only, or deferred repayment plan.

Terms for Graduate Loans
Variable APR 4.89%–12.64%
Fixed APR  4.24%–11.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000–$65,000 
Loan Terms  5, 10, or 15 years 

Medical School Loans

These loans are designed for students planning to enter the health and medical industry. They're available to students pursuing an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree, or an eligible certificate program.

Terms for Medical School Loans
Variable APR 4.89%–12.64%
Fixed APR  4.24%–11.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000–$50,000 for undergraduate students $1,000–$65,000 for graduate students 
Loan Terms  5, 10, or 15 years 

Medical Residency Loans

Medical students enrolled or enrolling in a graduate/professional degree or certificate program can obtain one of these loans if they're participating in a pre-approved MD, DDS, DO, or DVM residency program, or if they're planning to participate in one within a year.

Terms for Medical Residency Loans
Variable APR 4.89%–12.64%
Fixed APR  4.24%–11.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000–$15,000 
Loan Terms  5, 10, or 15 years 

Bar Study Loans

If you've graduated from a PNC-approved law school within the last six months or you're scheduled to graduate from one within the next six months, you can obtain a bar study loan if you're planning on taking the exam within six months of graduation. You'll get the same repayment plans as PNC's other loans and skip the application and origination fees.

Terms for Bar Study Loans
Variable APR 4.89%–12.64%
Fixed APR  4.24%–11.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000–$15,000 
Loan Terms  5, 10, or 15 years 

Loan Eligibility and Approval

PNC student loans are available in all 50 states. The lender doesn't provide specific credit requirements, such as a minimum credit score or income. However, PNC provides some general criteria:

  • Have two years of satisfactory credit history
  • Meet debt-to-income ratio requirements
  • Have two years of employment history
  • Provide proof of income (must have two years if self-employed)
  • Have two years of U.S. residency

For in-school loans, you need to be enrolled at least half-time. If you're applying for a refinance loan, you need to be the age of majority in your state. If you haven't obtained an associate degree or higher, you need to have made 24 consecutive payments on at least one student loan in the past two years to refinance. 

While parents can co-sign a PNC student loan, the lender doesn't offer parent-specific loan options.

Are Co-Signers Required?

PNC requires a co-signer if the student is 17 years old, and also in cases where the student cannot meet credit, employment, and income requirements on their own. 

Remember, though, that the bank does not offer loans to international students, even with a co-signer who is a citizen or permanent resident.

Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?

PNC does not offer pre-qualification. If you want to compare rates with other lenders, you'll need to submit an official application.

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

PNC has not disclosed how long the approval or disbursement process will take. If you're approved for in-school loans, the lender will disburse them directly to your school. If there are funds left over, PNC advises borrowers to contact their school to learn about the disbursement process.

Loan Fees and Repayment Options

Loan Fees

  • Origination fee: None
  • Application fee: None
  • Late fee: 5% of the past-due amount or $5, whichever is less; the fee is assessed 15 days after the due date
  • Returned payment fee: None
  • Deferment fee: None

Loan Discounts

PNC offers a 0.50% interest rate discount if you set up automatic payments.

Repayment Options

For in-school loans, borrowers will be able to choose from three different repayment options:

  • Immediate: You'll start repaying both principal and interest while still in school.
  • Interest-only: You'll only pay the interest that accrues each month while you're in school, then both principal and interest six months after graduating or falling below half-time enrollment.
  • Deferred: All payments will be deferred until six months after you graduate or fall below half-time enrollment (interest will still accrue). 

If you get approved for a refinance loan, you'll start making monthly payments immediately. 

Loan Deferment and Discharge Options

PNC may offer deferment in the event that you enroll in school at least half-time or experience financial hardship, unemployment, or military deployment. However, the lender doesn't disclose specifics about how long you can pause your payments. 

If you die, the lender will discharge the debt. However, there is no forgiveness available if you become permanently disabled.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

If you have existing student loans you can refinance them with PNC, even if you have an associate degree or no degree at all. Interest rates, loan amounts, and repayment options can vary based on your degree level. The 20-year repayment option is only available if you're refinancing $75,000 or more. Refinancing is only available for college students, not for parents.

Terms for Refinance Student Loans
Variable APR  4.39%–13.64% 
Fixed APR  4.49%–13.74% 
Loan Amounts  $10,000–$25,000 for borrowers with no degree
$10,000–$75,000 for borrowers with an associate degree
$10,000–$175,000 for borrowers with an undergraduate degree
$10,000–$200,000 for borrowers with a graduate degree 
Loan Terms  5, 10, 15, or 20 years 

Longer repayment periods can reduce your monthly payment, but they will also result in higher interest costs over the life of the loan. Carefully weigh your budget and the long-term costs to find the right term for you. 

Customer Service

If you have questions before applying, you can reach a student loan specialist by calling (800) 762-1001 or submitting a request online, and one will get in touch with you. Once you've been approved, you'll contact your loan servicer, American Education Services, at the same number.

In 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received just three student loan-related complaints against PNC. 

Applying for a PNC Student Loan 

Before you apply for a private student loan with PNC or any other lender, it's important to first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and take advantage of all of the federal financial aid options that are available to you.

If you still have a financial gap to bridge, then move forward with your application for a private student loan.

You can apply for a loan online through PNC's website. To find out if you're eligible, you'll share the following details:

  • School state
  • School name
  • Requested loan amount
  • Enrollment status
  • Citizenship status
  • Whether you're the age of majority in your state
  • Whether you're applying with a co-signer

If you're eligible based on the information you provided, you'll need to provide the following information for you and your co-signer, if applicable:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Email address
  • Employment status
  • Income information

Once you've submitted your application, the lender says it may require additional documentation but doesn't provide specifics. 

Alternative Choices

  PNC Education Loan Finance (ELFI)  Sallie Mae 
Loan Types Offered Undergraduate; graduate; professional Undergraduate; graduate; parent  Undergraduate; graduate; medical; technical; bootcamp 
Undergraduate Fixed APR  4.49%–12.24%  3.98%+ 4.50%–14.83% 
Undergraduate Variable APR  4.39%–12.14%  3.98%+ 5.37%–15.70% 
Origination/Administrative Fee  None  None  None 
Repayment Options  Deferment; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment 
Refinancing Available  Yes  Yes No 

Final Verdict

PNC student loans can be a good fit if you've exhausted all of your federal financial aid and don't need more than the maximum the lender allows you to borrow each year. It can be particularly beneficial if you plan to make automatic payments and want a co-signer, but don't want them to be stuck with that obligation for the life of the loan.

Keep in mind, though, that some lenders may offer more flexible repayment terms, and there are other lenders with co-signer release programs that start with just 12 consecutive on-time payments. Before you apply for a PNC student loan, get pre-qualified with other lenders and compare their rates with the ranges PNC provides to get an idea of whether it's worth submitting an application.

Looking for the best rates and terms for your student loan is a smart move. Save some time by checking out our picks for the best student loans today.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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  2. PNC. "PNC Branches."

  3. J.D. Power. "2022 U.S. National Banking Satisfaction Study."

  4. PNC. "Private Undergraduate Student Loan."

  5. PNC. "Refinance Student Loans."

  6. PNC. "Private Graduate Student Loans."

  7. PNC. "Bar Study Loan."

  8. PNC. "Student Loan FAQs."

  9. PNC. "PNC Solution Loan for Undergraduates Fixed Rate Application and Solicitation Disclosure."

  10. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Consumer Complaint Database."

  11. PNC. "See if You Are Eligible to Apply."