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Student Loans

PNC Student Loans Review

Loans for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students

  • No graduation requirement for refinance loan
  • Apply for cosigner release after just 48 months
  • Repayment terms range from 5 – 15 years

In 1983, Pittsburgh National Corporation and Provident National Corporation merged to create PNC Bank. Over the last 40 years, PNC’s dedicated itself to providing financial services from simple banking to asset management.

Among those services are private student loans. PNC offers student loans for multiple degree programs and levels of study, including undergraduate loans, graduate loans, and student loan refinancing.

To qualify for these loans, you’ll need to meet citizenship and credit requirements. Some loans come with specific enrollment criteria too. We’ll dive deeper below.

Our take on PNC’s private student loans

Type of student loanLendEDU rating
Undergraduate3.9 out of 5
Graduate3.8 out of 5
Check your rate in just five minutes.

Our take is based on hours of editorial research into each of these types of student loans. No two companies earn the same best-for designation—and some don’t receive one at all.

When that happens, it doesn’t mean that the company is a bad choice. It just means its financial products are more run-of-the-mill than one-of-a-kind.

That’s exactly the case for PNC: Its student loans are designed to appeal to a range of borrowers and, thus, don’t have many niche features that set them apart.

But if you’re looking for a straightforward loan from a time-tested company, PNC’s student loans are a solid bet.

Rates, terms, and more

PNC’s student loan rates and repayment terms are similar to its competitors. What’s unique about PNC, though, is that its interest rates don’t vary by student loan type. 

Instead, annual percentage rates (APRs) are specific to your repayment period. The longer your repayment period, the higher your APR. 

Your APR also depends on whether you choose a fixed or variable rate. Fixed rates stay the same over the life of the loan, while variable rates can fluctuate based on market conditions. Take a closer look at the possible APRs and other key facts about PNC’s student loans:

  • Loan amounts: PNC will let you borrow as much as $50,000 per year (undergraduate) or $65,000 per year (graduate or professional programs), up to $225,000 in total student loan debt. Note that this $225,000 includes all your federal and private loans. 
  • Rates (APR): The interest rate on your student loan will depend on your application, but PNC discloses the range where your rate will fall. This range varies by repayment term. Here’s the range for each repayment term, including the 0.5% autopay discount:
RepaymentFixed rates (APR)*Variable rates (APR)*
5 years6.69% – 11.94%8.44% – 13.69%
10 years8.29% – 13.54%10.04% – 15.29%
15 years8.64% – 13.89%10.39% – 15.64%
*Rates in March 2024
  • Repayment terms: PNC lets you repay your loan over five, 10, or 15 years.
  • In-school repayment options: You can make regular payments toward principal and interest, or you can elect interest-only repayment while you’re in school.
  • Grace period: You can put off your payments until six months after graduating or dropping below half-time status.
  • Cosigner release: PNC lets borrowers apply for cosigner release after 48 consecutive, on-time payments, not including interest-only payments or periods of deferment. If PNC approves your cosigner release, your cosigner will no longer be listed on the loan, and you’ll bear sole responsibility for repaying the debt.
  • Fees: PNC doesn’t charge any application or origination fees, though late payment fees may apply.
  • Unique features: PNC offers a 0.5% autopay discount for borrowers who enroll in autopay and apply their monthly payments to principal and interest.

Who’s eligible for PNC private student loans?

In addition to meeting citizenship and age requirements, borrowers also must demonstrate recent or current enrollment in a higher-education program

Your level and program of study must correspond to the loan type you’re seeking

Undergraduate students can’t apply for PNC graduate student loans, and engineering students can’t apply for a medical school loan. Take a closer look at PNC’s borrower requirements:

CitizenshipMust be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
State of residenceAll 50 states
Minimum age18 to apply on your own

17 with a qualified cosigner
Enrolled school or programMust enroll in a degree or certificate program that matches your student loan type

Bar study loans require enrollment at or graduation from a PNC-approved law school

Medical residency loans require participation in a PNC-approved residency program
Enrollment statusMust be enrolled at least half-time

Eligibility depends in part on your credit score and employment history, too. If you’re nervous about whether you can qualify on your own, consider applying with a cosigner. A creditworthy cosigner can improve your approval odds and help you snag a lower interest rate. And because PNC allows cosigner release, your cosigner can be off the hook after as little as two years of repayment.

How do you repay private student loans from PNC?

PNC gives its student loan borrowers multiple repayment options. You can select five-, 10-, or 15-year repayment terms, and you can choose from three repayment plans:

  • Interest-only payments reduce how much you pay while you’re in school, though you’ll end up paying more over the life of the loan.
  • Deferment lets you postpone payments until six months after you graduate or six months after you drop below half-time enrollment. Interest still accrues while your loans are in deferment, so you may end up owing more than you expected.
  • Immediate repayment means you’ll pay toward principal and interest. Not only will you pay off your loan faster, but you’ll be eligible for autopay discounts and cosigner release.

These repayment options are standard across many private student loan lenders, though some lenders offer fixed repayment plans, too. SoFi, for example, lets borrowers pay just $25 per month, every month until they finish school.

How much you’ll end up repaying at the end of your loan term depends in part on the term length you choose, how soon you pay down your principal balance, and whether you selected a fixed or variable APR.

With fixed-rate APRs, your interest rate and monthly payments don’t change. With variable APRs, your payment amount isn’t guaranteed because your interest rate can increase or decrease. 

Variable rates involve a certain amount of risk, but if your interest rate drops, you could end up paying less overall. The best rate type for you depends on whether you prioritize predictability or possible savings—and if you’re prepared for a potentially higher payment.

Our take on PNC’s refinance student loans

Type of student loanLendEDU rating
Refinance student loan3.8 out of 5

Like its regular student loans and for similar reasons, PNC’s Education Refinance Loan (PERL) didn’t earn a best-for designation. Still, here is one notable feature we’re excited about: You can refinance with PNC even if you didn’t graduate. Here are all the details.

Rates, terms, and more

PNC’s student loan refinance rates and terms are comparable to what you’ll find with other lenders. PNC differs in how it uses your educational history to determine your loan package.

The good news is that you can refinance with PNC even if you didn’t finish your program. The better news is that if you did graduate, you may qualify for lower interest rates, higher loan amounts, and a longer repayment term.

Fixed rates (APR)6.99%16.39%
Variable rates (APR)7.89%17.39%
Rate discounts0.5% for automatic payments
Loan amounts$10,000 – $200,000, depending on degree attained
Repayment terms5, 10, 15, or 20 years, depending on degree attained
Repayment assistanceDeferment for up to 36 months while enrolled full-time
Cosigner releaseYes, after 48 consecutive, on-time payments
FeesLate payment fee
Unique featuresAvailable to borrowers who didn’t graduate

When you refinance, you can choose between fixed and variable rates, just like with PNC’s private student loans. 

Remember that with a fixed rate, you’ll pay the same amount, at the same interest rate, every month until your loan is paid off. With a variable rate, your interest rate moves up or down with the market, which can change your payment amount and affect the lifetime cost of the loan.

Who’s eligible to refinance student loans with PNC?

Eligibility requirements for refinancing your student loans with PNC are similar to those for its private student loans. You and your cosigner (if you have one) must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be over age 18, and meet employment requirements

If you don’t have an associate degree or higher, you’ll also need to demonstrate that you’ve made 24 consecutive payments on at least one of your student loans over the last two years.

Eligibility requirementDetails
CitizenshipMust be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
State of residenceAll 50 states
Graduation statusGraduation not required

How do you repay PNC refinanced student loans?

PNC doesn’t specify its student loan refinance process, but it usually works like this:

  1. You apply for and accept a refinance loan with a new lender.
  2. Your new lender pays off your student loan balance with your current lender(s).
  3. You start making payments to your new lender.

That’s likely what will happen when you refinance with PNC, but review your loan documents or ask a PNC lending specialist to be sure. 

Clarify how long this process could take. Refinancing timelines vary by situation and by lender, and you’re still responsible for paying on your loans in the interim. If you fail to make those payments, you could pay late fees or see a drop in your credit score.

Once PNC takes over your student loans, it’ll be business as usual. You’ll pay PNC every month until the refinance loan is satisfied in full.

If you go back to school full-time during the repayment period, PNC lets you defer payments for up to 36 months. PNC doesn’t offer any additional repayment assistance options, and if you refinance federal loans with PNC, you’ll lose eligibility for federal assistance and forgiveness programs.

How can PNC improve its student loans?

PNC’s student loans meet borrowers where they are in their educational journeys, whether you’ve got a defined career path or you’re still figuring it out.

We’d like to see PNC be more transparent about credit requirements, however, or at least let borrowers check their rates without a hard pull, which can lower your credit score. PNC doesn’t offer loans for parents or international students, nor does it provide added benefits, such as career coaching.

If those features are important to you, explore alternative private student loan lenders. These are five of our top student loan companies:

LenderBest forLendEDU rating (out of 5)
College AveOverall4.8
Funding UNo-cosigner undergrad loans4.6
SoFiCareer services4.6
MPOWERInternational students4.5

Some of the above lenders offer refinance loans, but not all do. If you’re looking to refinance your loans and aren’t sure PNC is the right fit, these are the six best student loan refinance companies:

LenderBest forLendEDU rating (out of 5)
SoFiOnline lender4.9
EarnestSkip-a-payment benefit4.8
ELFIPersonalized support4.8
RISLAHardship protections4.4
NelnetTerm lengths4.2

How have PNC student loans evolved over the years?

PNC’s student loans haven’t changed much in recent years, save for a few tweaks:

  • Back in 2019, PNC only offered a 15-year repayment period and capped undergraduate student loans at $40,000 per year. 
  • By 2020, PNC raised that threshold and expanded its repayment periods to the three options borrowers appreciate today.

Other features, including its autopay discount and loan limits for graduate and professional students, have held steady. You could argue that PNC hasn’t kept up with rising tuition, but those limits may encourage students to borrow less overall, or at least use private loans as a last resort—which is what we recommend.

Is PNC a reputable lender?

As you research PNC (or any lender), it’s smart to consult several sources for company reviews.

Combining what you learn from our review with what customers report to the Better Business Bureau or on review sites like Trustpilot can help make you a more informed decision.

SourceCustomer rating (out of 5)Number of reviews
Trustpilot1.3 1,077
Google1.5 44
Better Business Bureau1.1 555
Collected on March 3, 2024.

PNC is a legitimate lender with an A+ BBB rating, but it doesn’t hold BBB accreditation.  Companies must submit an application and pay a fee for accreditation, so it’s possible PNC isn’t accredited because it didn’t apply.

Despite its high BBB rating, PNC’s customer reviews reflect a negative experience. Many unhappy customers describe difficulties with the online payment system or less-than-stellar customer service at branches or over the phone. Those poor reviews are worth noting, but customer reviews can involve any of PNC’s service offerings at any of its 2,300 branches or virtual customer service departments and with any of its 56,000 employees.

Furthermore, few reviews address PNC’s student loan products. In other words, the frustrations expressed in these reviews aren’t necessarily indicative of the typical PNC customer experience, at least not when it comes to student loan products.

Does PNC have a customer service team?

Unlike some private lenders, PNC services its own loans. That means you’ll work with PNC and PNC alone from the time you apply for a loan to the time you pay it off.

To that end, PNC has a robust customer service team that is distributed throughout multiple states and available across multiple channels. PNC’s lending specialists can assist you with applying, making payments, setting up online access—you name it. Here’s how to reach them:

  • Online: Fill out this contact form to get in touch with a PNC student lending specialist.
  • Phone: 1-800-762-1001 is PNC’s dedicated student loan support number. Representatives are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern.
  • Branch: PNC has 2,300 locations in 28 states and Washington, D.C. Find a branch near you for in-person assistance.

How to apply for a PNC student loan

You may be able to apply for a PNC student loan at a physical branch, but the easiest way is to use the online application system. Here’s how it works:

  1. Navigate to the loan type you need. Each PNC student loan has its own application link, so double-check the text at the top of the application page to ensure you chose the right one before you move on.
A screenshot of the PNC website emphasizing its solution loan for health professions
Source: PNC
  1. Check your eligibility. Next, answer preliminary questions about your university and enrollment status. You’ll also provide details about your and your cosigner’s age, citizenship, and income. This step doesn’t involve a credit check or require you to input any personal information.
A screenshot of the loan eligibility check process
Source: PNC
  1. Create an account. If you pass the eligibility screening, you’ll need to create a PNC account or log in if you already have one. During this step, you’ll share more sensitive information, including your name, address, and Social Security number.
  1. Submit any requested documents. As you move through the application, PNC may ask you and your cosigner to provide proof of income and identity. To refinance, you may need monthly statements for your student loans. Have those documents handy to expedite the process.
  2. Consent to any disclosures, including a credit pull. Before PNC can review your application, you’ll need to read and agree to its terms and conditions, electronic communication disclosures, and a hard credit check.
  3. If approved, work with PNC to finalize your loan. You may need to submit additional documentation, and you must sign loan documents before PNC disburses any funds. It’s unclear whether PNC will give you an immediate decision or if it could take a few days.

How PNC disburses your funds depends on the type of student loan you get. PNC disburses medical residency and bar study loan funds right to the borrower and sends funds for all other loan types to the borrower’s school.

What if I’m denied a student loan from PNC?

PNC might deny your loan application for a number of reasons. You may have a high debt-to-income ratio (DTI) or shaky employment history, for example. It could even be that your student loan balance is too high or you aren’t enrolled in an eligible program.

PNC will notify you if your application isn’t approved. This notification should list the specific reasons for denial or instruct you on requesting that information.

If you’re denied due to your credit, focus on paying down revolving debt or catching up on late payments. You can reapply in the future once your credit profile improves.


Does PNC offer private or federal student loans?

PNC only offers private student loans. You can defer payments on your PNC student loans like you can with federal student loans. PNC student loans aren’t eligible for federal repayment or forgiveness programs, though, and may have higher interest rates.

Does applying with PNC hurt my credit?

Applying for a private student loan with PNC will result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. If you apply with a cosigner, they’ll receive a hard inquiry too. Hard inquiries can drop your credit score by a few points and will show up on your credit report for two years.

Does PNC require a cosigner?

PNC only requires a cosigner for students under age 18. But if you have poor credit, a limited credit history, or a lower income, a cosigner could strengthen your application and help you qualify for a better interest rate.

Does PNC allow cosigners to be released?

You can request cosigner release after making 48 consecutive, on-time payments. These payments must include principal and interest, so borrowers on interest-only repayment plans may not qualify. You’ll also need to provide proof of income and pass a credit check.

What can PNC student loans be used for?

You can use your PNC student loan to pay for tuition and fees, room and board, meal plans, textbooks, and school supplies. You can even use your loan to cover school-related travel and transportation (say, if you’re moving out of state or studying abroad).

There aren’t many restrictions on how you can spend your loan funds, but PNC limits how much you can borrow each year. PNC also won’t let you exceed $225,000 in total student loan debt.

How long does it take to receive funds from PNC?

When you receive your funds depends on the type of student loan you take out, though PNC doesn’t give an expected timeline. Medical residency and bar study loan funds are disbursed to the borrower, whereas PNC sends all other student loan funds to the borrower’s university. 

That extra step means you’ll have to wait for your school to apply your loan funds to your tuition balance before you receive any excess. Reach out to your financial aid office for more information.

Is PNC responsible for paying off my current student loans?

PNC’s website isn’t clear about its student loan refinance process. Typically, the lender you refinance with will pay off your current student loans. Then you’ll start making payments to your new lender.

This doesn’t happen overnight, and you’re still responsible for paying your former loan servicer until the new one takes over. Ask your PNC lending specialist how long they expect the process to take and how you’ll know it’s completed so you don’t miss any payments in the meantime.

Can PNC student loans be forgiven?

Private student loans, like those PNC offers, aren’t eligible for forgiveness programs. That applies to refinanced loans too. If you refinance your federal loans with PNC or another private lender, you’ll lose out on federal loan forgiveness and repayment options.

How we rated PNC student loans

We designed LendEDU’s editorial rating system to help consumers identify companies that offer the best financial products. Our experts spend hours researching these companies each year to ensure our ratings are fresh and accurate.

Our most recent evaluation compared PNC to several lenders across a number of factors, including rates, repayment terms, customer reviews, and benefits. We weighted, scored, and combined these factors to produce a final editorial rating. This rating is expressed on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible score. We round all ratings to the nearest tenth decimal place.

Student loanOur rating (out of 5)
Undergraduate3.9 View Rates
Graduate3.8 View Rates
Refinance3.8View Rates