PNC Private Student Loans: Pros, Cons, and Reviews

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 10/23/20

CollegeFinance Score: ★★★★☆

If you need a private student loan at a competitive interest rate and don’t need a high loan amount, PNC’s student loans might be the right fit for you. PNC is best known as a banking institution spread across 21 states and Washington, D.C., but it also offers personal loans, mortgages, and investing services. If loan benefits and low monthly payments are important to you, PNC is well worth looking into.


  • Very competitive student loan rates
  • No application or origination fees
  • Co-signer release option
  • Higher-than-average interest rate reductions
  • Additional discounts for military members


  • Maximum loan amount per year is $50,000
  • Requires a satisfactory credit score and work history for loan approval
  • Not all schools are eligible for PNC loans
  • Uses a third-party loan servicer

PNC: What You Need to Know

PNC is a traditional bank offering brick-and-mortar and online services throughout the country. PNC also offers refinancing loans and new student loans for individuals currently attending college.

PNC is dedicated to helping college students better afford their education, with a unique refinancing loan that allows students currently attending college the chance to receive a better rate on their student loans.

While PNC private student loans do not have rates as low as federal student loans, this bank is able to offer extremely competitive rates to those with satisfactory credit scores. PNC also offers various benefits and discounts to student loan borrowers that help it stand out from other private lenders.

In addition to student loan services, PNC offers a scholarship program, a financial literacy database, and student financial information through its online blog. PNC has undergraduate, graduate, refinancing, health-specific, residency, and bar exam student loans. 

PNC’s BBB Rating: A+

PNC prides itself on its reputation for customer service and financial literacy, but what do PNC customers think of this financial institution? To find out, we took a look at the top review sites, so you can form a more educated opinion of this loan provider.

First, we looked at PNC’s rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB is a private nonprofit company review website that was founded in 1912. The BBB’s goal is to bring unbiased reviews and evaluations of companies to the general public. Companies are rated by the BBB and can respond to customer claims and complaints directly online. 

PNC has earned an A+ rating from the BBB, which is the highest rating this site offers. The BBB page shows nearly 1,600 customer complaints to date, but PNC has responded to and closed all existing BBB complaints. Customers have given PNC a one-star rating on the BBB, but these ratings were likely submitted before complaints were resolved.

In addition to the BBB rating, Trustpilot has granted PNC a 2.9 out of 5 stars. According to the Trustpilot website, this slightly lower rating is the main reason PNC has not responded to this site’s complaints in over 12 months.

It’s important to keep in mind that PNC is being reviewed as a whole on both sites, rather than strictly for its student loan services.

PNC: Potential Benefits for Borrowers

If you need a private student loan, PNC really shines when it comes to discounts and loan terms. PNC offers more significant rate discounts than most private lenders and provides even more options for discounts and benefits if you are an existing PNC customer or military service member. PNC also offers longer-than-average student loan terms when compared to most private lenders.

Here’s a more comprehensive look at the student loan benefits that PNC offers:

  • PNC offers significant rate discounts. While most private lenders offer a 0.25% rate decrease when you enroll in autopay, PNC offers double this amount, by granting a 0.50% rate decrease for signing up for autopay. You can also reduce your rate if you’re an existing PNC member or have another loan serviced through PNC.
  • PNC provides extra discounts for military personnel. If you’ve served or are serving in the U.S. military, you might be eligible for additional rate discounts or forbearance and deferment options.
  • PNC does not have an application or origination fee. It can be hard to find a private student loan provider that doesn’t rack up the service fees, but PNC is one of the few that does not charge an application or origination fee.
  • PNC has a co-signer release option. Many students struggle to find co-signers willing to be on the hook for their student loan payment for five to 15 years. PNC makes it easier to find a willing co-signer by offering a co-signer release option that allows co-signers to get off the student loan after 48 months of consecutive, on-time loan payments.
  • PNC offers additional benefits to members. As a PNC member, you gain access to the annual student scholarship sweepstakes for $2,000. You’ll also be connected to PNC’s large library of financial literacy educational topics.

PNC: Potential Drawbacks for Borrowers

There are many factors to consider when deciding on a private student loan lender, and you shouldn’t rush into a decision without considering both the pros and cons of a lender. To help, we’ve noted some of the downsides to taking out a student loan or refinancing your student loans with PNC.

The main drawbacks include:

  • PNC requires satisfactory credit and employment history for approval. Many students do not have much credit history to review and often have no real employment history. This can make it nearly impossible for a student to receive a PNC loan without finding a co-signer who has good credit and a stable career. 
  • PNC has a low maximum loan amount. College is expensive, and depending on where you’re going to school, if you’re living on campus, and how much financial aid you’ve received, you might need a large loan to fund your education. PNC offers a maximum loan amount of $50,000 per year, which may be fine for many students but won’t cover the high expenses that other students face.
  • PNC does a hard credit pull. Some private student loan lenders can do a soft credit check when reviewing your application and offering you rates and loan amounts. PNC does not offer this option and instead pulls a hard credit check, impacting your credit score.
  • PNC has unclear deferment and forbearance options. While PNC advertises it has deferment and forbearance options, no specific information is offered on either service.

PNC: The Details

Loan Amounts and Term Lengths

Minimum loan amount: Not disclosed

Loan term options: 5, 10, and 15 years

Multi-year approval available: Not offered

Interest Rate Ranges

Fixed and variable rates available: Yes

Fixed low APR (10 years): 4.99%

Fixed high APR (10 years): 9.14%

Variable low APR (10 years): 3.76%

Variable high APR (10 years): 7.91%

Repayment Options

In-school payment options: PNC lets you decide how to pay while you’re in school — choose to make full monthly payments, pay your interest only, or defer payments until after you graduate.

Grace period: PNC offers a six-month grace period.

Co-signer release available: Yes, PNC allows you to release your co-signer after 48 months of consecutive, on-time payments.  

Loan servicer: American Education Services (AES)

Other Perks and Options

Interest rate discounts: You can save 0.50% for enrolling in autopay and additional rate discounts if you or your co-signer are an existing PNC member or military service member.

Other rewards or services: You’ll have access to PNC’s financial literacy library and annual scholarship sweepstakes. 

PNC: Eligibility and Application Requirements

Eligibility Details

Income requirements: Not disclosed, but you or your co-signer will need proof of income history.

Credit score requirements: Not disclosed, but PNC notes that satisfactory credit is required.

Eligibility for international borrowers: No, PNC only works with U.S. borrowers.

Application Details

Application or origination fees: None

Soft pull rate check availability: No, PNC does a hard credit check.

Private Student Loans: Understanding Your Options

PNC can help you get a private student loan or refinance your current student loans at a competitive rate. However, before applying for a private student loan, we highly recommend you first look into federal student loan options.

What are federal student loans? These loans are funded by the United States government and handled by the Department of Education. As a result, these loans tend to be safer than private student loans and also offer lower, fixed interest rates that won’t increase.

In addition, most federal student loans are offered to students regardless of credit scores or work history. If you’re not eligible for grants or scholarships, you may still be eligible for federal student loans. To apply, you’ll need to fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.

Here are some additional benefits that federal student loans can provide over private student loans:

  • Longer loan terms. PNC offers longer loan terms than most private lenders, but still can’t meet the loan terms that federal student loans can offer. PNC can extend loans to 15 years, but federal student loans can be extended to 20 years or longer. 
  • Flexible repayment options. Not every student is in a financial position to make full monthly payments on their student loans following graduation. Federal student loans offer customized payment plans tailored to your income and can even defer your loans for longer periods in emergencies.
  • Student loan forgiveness. One of the biggest benefits that federal student loans offer is full or partial student loan forgiveness for students who serve as teachers, nurses, or other public service figures.

We always recommend applying for a federal student loan before exploring private lenders since the benefits are hard to beat. Plus, you might even find that you’re eligible for federal grants or work-study programs that might be preferable to student loans. 

If you’re not eligible for federal aid or need additional money to supplement your educational costs, we recommend looking for student loans from a private lender with a proven track record, like PNC.

Is PNC Right for You?

If federal student loans aren’t an option or won’t cover your expenses, PNC could be the lender that helps you bridge the gap on your college expenses. We love that PNC offers an incredible rate discount for enrolling in autopay and that you can extend your loan terms up to 15 years.

PNC Could Be a Good Option for You If:

  • You are (or were) in the military. PNC provides great discounts and benefits for military personnel, so we recommend checking them out if you’re serving in active duty or are a former military member.
  • You want a co-signer release option. We’re big fans of PNC’s co-signer release option since we know that finding a co-signer to sign on to your debt for 10 or 15 years can be extremely difficult.
  • You’re already a PNC member. You can enjoy additional discounts and benefits on your student loan if you (or your co-signer) are already a PNC member.
  • You need less than $50,000 in financing. PNC does have a relatively low yearly maximum in loan funding, but if you need less than $50,000, this bank might be the right lender for you.

PNC has great tools available for students and can make it easier to afford college. While PNC could provide supplemental financing, we believe you should first consider federal student loans, grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and other options before turning to private loans for college.

At, we offer financial resources to help you figure out how to pay for your education. We can help you whether you’re refinancing your student loans or weighing your repayment options

If you need to find a private student loan lender, look through our reviews on the top lenders, and read our best private student loans guide before deciding.