College is expensive. Learn about your options to pay for it.
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College Costs Overview
College costs are more than just the price of tuition. Living arrangements, books & meals can raise the sticker price.
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is any money used to pay for college, whether it's earned by you, given to you, or you borrow it through a student loan.
Getting Financial Aid starts with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).
FAFSA is the first step in applying for many forms of financial aid. Every student should complete the application prior to entering college and re-apply for financial aid each year enrolled in school.
Submit the application even if you don’t think you would qualify for federal financial aid. You cannot borrow through the Direct or PLUS loan programs without completing the FAFSA.
To complete and submit your FAFSA online, you must create a U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. The FSA ID will serve as your electronic signature. You can fill out the FAFSA online and create a FSA ID .
Use the checklist in our college planning guide to help manage FAFSA timelines and requirements
For More Information:
Grants & Scholarships
Obtaining funds through these resources to pay for school will reduce the amount of student loans you’ll need to borrow, helping to save money now and into the future.
- Federal Pell Grant
This grant provides monetary assistance to undergraduate students who exhibit financial need and have not yet earned either a bachelor's or a professional degree. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible. Unlike loans, Pell Grants are not repaid. They are a financial incentive to advance your education. Award amounts may change annually, the maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $7,395 for the 2023–24 award year (July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024). To apply, you must complete the FAFSA.
- State-Administered Grants
These grants and their awards vary by state. You should contact your high school guidance counselor or for details and application deadlines.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
This grant provides monetary assistance to undergraduate students who exhibit exceptional financial need and have not yet earned either a bachelor's or a professional degree. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible. Like Pell Grants, this grant does not have to be repaid. Awards may range from $100 to $4,000 annually. To apply, you must complete the FAFSA.
Several companies and corporations offer scholarship programs, which are often free to enter and can be found on their website. Through the PNC Student Solution Scholarship, students can enter to win a $2,000 scholarship.
Sites such as can make searching for the right scholarship easy.
- Public libraries
Look for books such as the Annual Register of Grant Support.
- Professional organizations
A number of professional and community organizations offer scholarships, such as the Lions Club, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts.
Some employers offer their employees and their children scholarship opportunities.
- High school guidance counselors
These professionals may know about grants and scholarships that specifically match you and your interests.
- Financial aid professionals
The financial aid offices of the schools that interest you can provide detailed information on the types of aid available from their school, the required applications and deadlines.
College Savings Plans For Your Student
In addition to regular interest-bearing savings accounts, college savings plans are available to help you increase how much you can save and contribute towards funding an education.
"Qualified Tuition Plans"
529 plans allow you to save for higher education for a named beneficiary or prepay future tuition in today's dollars, and can offer significant tax advantages. Parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts or friends can establish them. You can even set up a plan for yourself as long as the plan is designated for education funding needs.
A Coverdell Education Savings Account (CESA), formerly known as an Education IRA, is designed to help you set aside money for the qualified education expenses of your children, grandchildren or any other eligible beneficiaries. You cannot deduct contributions on your tax return, but the earnings are not taxed while they are held in the account.
When your child is ready to head to college, distributions from this account will be tax-free if they're used to pay qualified education expenses. These funds may also be used to save for elementary and secondary education.
A custodial account under the Uniform Gifts to Minor Act (UGMA) and Uniform Transfers to Minor Act (UTMA) is another way to save for your child's future higher education needs. Although not tax advantaged - earnings and withdrawals may be subject to your child's tax rate - custodial accounts allow you to contribute as much as you like and give you maximum control over investment choices and decisions.
Student Loan Insights
Getting federal financial aid for college begins with knowing where and how to apply. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process.
4 min read
Student loans are often the primary way many finance their college education. But what if students can’t secure loans on their own? A co-signer might be the answer.
3 min read
Tips and tactics for using excess student loan funds wisely.
2 min read
Repaying Your Student Loans
Find out if refinancing makes sense for you—click the tabs below to learn more.
- Why Refinance?
- Simplifying Payments
- Repayment Period
- Interest Rates
- Getting Started
One way to help achieve your financial goals is to refinance your student loans. Whether you’re looking for the convenience of a single monthly payment or want to save money over the life of your student loan(s), PNC can help.
The PNC Education Refinance Loan (PERL) is specifically designed for refinancing student loans. To learn more about the options available to meet your unique needs, watch our series of videos on student loan refinancing.
Video: Why Refinance
Consolidating your student loans can make managing your student debt simpler with only one service provider and one monthly payment.
Video: Simplfiying Payments
Select the repayment term that best meets your financial goals: shorten your term to reduce total paid or extend your term to lower monthly payments.
Video: Repayment Period
You may want the security of knowing your rate is locked in for the life of your loan. Or, perhaps you'd prefer a lower rate right now, knowing you could pay more later on if rates go up. Whatever you decide, we've got you covered.
Video: Interest Rates
Learn what you need to get started, including what you'll need and how to apply.
Video: Getting Started
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Refinancing: Refinancing at a longer repayment term may lower your loan payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing at a shorter repayment term may increase your loan payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. For example, if you have a 15-year loan that matures in 10 years and you refinance for another 15 years at a lower rate, your payments will be lower but you will pay interest for an additional 5 years. Contact us to discuss the option that best meets your needs.
You are encouraged to explore all scholarship, grant and federal borrowing options before applying for a private loan. PNC Solution Loans and PNC Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit approval. Certain restrictions and conditions apply.
PNC does not provide accounting, tax or legal advice. Financial literacy content and interactive calculators are provided for educational, informational and illustrative purposes only. The utilization of calculators and any results displayed do not represent an offer or solicitation for a product or service by PNC Bank or its affiliates. PNC does not guarantee the accuracy or applicability of these resources to your circumstances. Please consult a financial, tax or legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
FAFSA is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Education.