Planning for College

Learn about the true costs of college and the process of finding aid


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College Costs

College costs are more than just the price of tuition. Living arrangements, books and meals can raise the sticker price. Figuring out how much college is going to cost can help you create a budget you can stick to.

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Getting Financial Aid Starts with FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (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.

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Understanding the Financial Aid Award Letter

Before you can make an informed decision about whether or not to attend a college, you need to evaluate your financial aid award letter. The letter summarizes the types and sources of financial aid you will receive. Learn how to decipher the information in it.

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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 loaned to you by a bank. Read a comparison of Federal PLUS Loans versus private loans, view a list of federal tax benefits available to those paying for higher education, and learn what it means to co-sign a loan.

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Financial Aid Timeline

Getting into college and finding money to pay for college are two processes that begin in your junior year of high school. Don't get overwhelmed -- get organized. Planning ahead can improve your chances of getting the aid you need.

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Education Loans - Glossary

Can't remember what COA means? What's a disbursement? The glossary is good reference for learning the details of the student loan process. Check it out to find definitions for financial aid terms.

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Important Information and Disclosures

You are encouraged to explore all scholarship, grant and federal borrowing options before applying for a private loan.

Private loans are subject to credit approval. Certain restrictions and conditions apply.

PNC does not provide accounting, tax or legal advice. Any calculators provided are intended for educational and estimation purposes only, and their accuracy is not guaranteed. The calculators, and any results displayed, do not constitute the advice of, or reflect actual products, services, rates and/or terms available from PNC Bank or its affiliates, and nothing contained in the calculators shall constitute an offer or solicitation of a product or service by PNC Bank or its affiliates.

Read a summary of privacy rights for California residents which outlines the types of information we collect, and how and why we use that information.