Education Financing

College is expensive.
Learn about your options to pay for it.

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College Costs Overview

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Explore our college planning guide to learn the information you need to start off strong.

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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 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:

Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) 
1-800-4-FED-AID (433-3243) 
Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. ET 
Saturdays: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET

FAFSA on the Web 
The government offers a detailed, question-by-question guide to filling out the paper and online FAFSA

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. Awards may range from $400 to $5,920 annually. 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 oryour state's higher education authority 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.


  • Online
    Sites such 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.
  • Employers
    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.

$2,000 Scholarship. 12 Winners. Enter today.

Financial knowledge and help with finances can improve your college experience. Here's a chance for Undergraduate students to get both. Learn more » [1]

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.

529 Plans
"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.

Learn More »

Coverdell Education
Savings Accounts

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.

Learn More »

Student Loan Insights


How to Apply for Federal Financial Aid

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 Loan Consolidation vs. Student Loan Refinancing

Understanding your options for consolidating or refinancing your student loans may help you manage that debt more wisely.

3 min read


Tips for Paying Off Student Loan Debt Faster

As your college education progresses, your student loan debt can accumulate. How can you pay that debt down — and ultimately pay it off — as quickly as possible?

3 min read

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Important Legal Disclosures & Information

  1. Scholarship: Restrictions and conditions apply. For detailed information, view the scholarship disclosure and the official sweepstakes rules.

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. 

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