PNC Student Loans Review: Are They Right For You?

PNC Student Loans Review: Are They Right For You?

PNC is best for refinancing student loan borrowers who didn't complete their degrees. Most other borrower types should consider alternative lenders, as PNC's rates are quite high and its terms are limited.

Good for

  • 0.5% autopay discount
  • Refinancing borrowers that didn't graduate

Bad for

  • Borrowers that need high loan amounts
  • Only one loan term option for student loans
  • Co-signer release: 48 months of consecutive payments to be eligible

Editor's Rating

3.0/5.0

PNC Bank is not the best lender for most borrowers as its rates are not as competitive as many online lenders, even with the 0.5% autopay discount the company offers. However, if you didn't complete your degree and need to refinance, PNC is one of the only lenders that will refinance your loans.

PNC Bank Student Loans Review

PNC student loans aren't a great option for most borrowers, as bank’s rates are quite high, with limited loan terms and loan amounts. Although PNC offers the highest autopay discount we've seen—at 0.50%, PNC's rates are still not very competitive, especially for borrowers with excellent credit. The lender's fixed rates start at 6.03% and go up to 12.29%, with the autopay discount, while lenders like CommonBond have rates starting at 5.3% with an upper bound of only 9.82%.

Other than rates, PNC is a rather standard lender with three repayment options, deferment and forbearance. PNC doesn't service its student loans, meaning that your loan will be handled by the third-party servicer, American Education Services (AES), which is common for student lenders. However, this means that you may not receive the same quality of service that you do with PNC's other products, as your loan won't be directly handled by the lender. So, even if you have an existing PNC account, you should still check out other student loan options.

PNC Bank Refinancing Review

PNC Bank's refinancing loan is a great option for borrowers that left school without completing their degrees and have already made 24 payments on their loans. Most refinancing lenders require that applicants graduate to qualify for a loan, and some lenders, like CommonBond, even require a specific degree type (four-year degree) to be eligible.

However, if you did graduate, PNC will not be the best refinancing option, as it only covers up to $75,000 of student loan debt and has relatively high rates. You can find other lenders that offer better rates for both high and low credit scores. As always, it doesn't hurt to check your rate from multiple lenders, as long as they only perform a soft pull on your credit. PNC doesn't offer a soft credit check, and you will have to fill out a full application to see your loan options and rates.

Who Can Qualify for PNC Bank Student Loans?

PNC Bank loans are available to undergraduate, graduate and professional borrowers, including medical residents and law students taking the bar exam. The lender doesn't disclose a specific credit score to qualify for its loans but requires borrowers or co-signers to have two years of satisfactory credit history and continuous income or employment history. To be eligible for a PNC education refinance loan, you need to have made at least 24 months of payments on your loan.

Credit scoreNot specified
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 48 on-time payments
Accepted citizenship status
  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
Part-time studentsAt least half-time
Eligible schoolsTitle IV public and private institutions.

PNC Bank Student Loans Rates, Terms and Fees

If you have great credit and are looking for low rates, PNC Bank is not the ideal lender for you. The company doesn't have the best rates, provides one loan term of 15 years and only lends up to $40,000 per year. On the other hand, most students don't need more than $40,000 per year, as the average student loan debt is $32,731 per borrower.

Undergraduate Student Loan Features

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount rangeUp to $40,000
APR range
  • 6.03% - 12.29% Fixed rate
  • 5.19% - 11.39% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: 5% of payment or $5
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms15 years

*Rates include 0.50% rate discount with autopay

Student borrowers can qualify for PNC's education refinance loan with at least $10,000 of debt after 24 months of repaying their loans. The lender only refinances up to $75,000 and has loan terms of 10 and 15 years, while lenders such as SoFi has terms up to 20 years and refinances 100% of your student loan debt.

PNC Private Refinance Loan Features

Loan typeRefinance/Consolidation
Loan amount range$10,000 - $75,000
APR range
  • 5.39% - 7.59% Fixed rate
  • 4.98% - 7.18% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: 5% of payment or $5
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms10 or 15 years

*Rates include 0.50% rate discount with autopay

How to Repay Your Student Loans

PNC Bank offers three different repayment plans: in-school, interest-only and deferred-repayment. This means that you can choose to start paying your full monthly payments in school, pay only the interest each month while in school or wait until after you complete school to pay off your loans. Most students choose to defer their student loan payments, but starting to pay off your loans while in school will decrease the total cost of your loan.

Deferment and Forbearance

Similar to most lenders, PNC Bank allows student borrowers that chose to defer their loans a grace period of six months after leaving school before repayment begins. If you start to have trouble paying back your loans, PNC allows you up to 12 months in total of forbearance in two-month increments.

Permitted DefermentsLimit
Grace period upon leaving school6 months

In order to be approved for forbearance, you must have a qualifying financial situation that is preventing you from affording your payments. You can declare forbearance for two months each year and up to 12 months in total. You must wait 12 months before requesting another two months, and interest continues to accrue on loans in forbearance.

ForbearanceLimit
Permitted PeriodUp to 12 months
ConditionsMust be experiencing financial hardship, unemployment, excessive debt burden or medical disability.

How Does PNC Bank Compare to Other Student Lenders?

In most cases, PNC Bank will not be your best option, as there are lenders with better rates and terms. Sallie Mae provides lower rates than PNC Bank while offering to cover up to 100% of school costs. And Discover offers borrowers helpful repayment assistance options if they are struggling to repay their loans.

PNC BankSallie MaeDiscover
Loan types offered
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
  • Private student loan
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
APR range*
  • 6.03% - 12.29% Fixed
  • 5.19% - 11.39% Variable
  • 5.74% - 11.85% Fixed
  • 4.25% - 11.10% Variable
  • 5.99% - 13.99% Fixed
  • 3.99% - 12.99% Variable
Loan amountUp to $40,000$1,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses$1,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses ($120,000 max with other financial aid)
In-school repayment optionsIn-school, Interest-only or DeferredDeferred, Fixed, or Interest-onlyIn-School or Deferred
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 48 on-time paymentsYes, release permitted after 12 on-time paymentsYes, release not permitted

*Rates include discount with auto-pay

PNC Bank vs. Sallie Mae

Compared to PNC Bank, Sallie Mae offers students better rates, both on the high and low end and will cover up to 100% of school expenses. On top of this, co-signers can be released after 12 monthly payments, while PNC Bank only allows co-signer release after 48 monthly payments, four times longer than Sallie Mae. Between the two lenders, PNC Bank would only be a better choice if you want to repay your student loans while in school as Sallie Mae doesn't offer that option. However, there are many other lenders to choose from with lower rates that offer an in-school repayment plan.

PNC Bank vs. Discover

Discover stands out from other lenders as one of the best options for borrowers who may have difficulties paying back their loans post-graduation. The company offers multiple repayment assistance options to help borrowers struggling with repayment. This includes a longer grace period, payment extensions, early repayment assistance and reduced payments. In comparison, PNC has industry-standard policies of deferment and forbearance with a six-month grace period upon leaving school and a 12-month forbearance limit. On the other hand, PNC Bank offers lower fixed rates for borrowers with great credit history. But if you have great credit history, you should look for other lenders to get even lower rates.

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