Student Loans

The Smart Option Student Loan® for First Commonwealth by Sallie Mae®

Loans are available for borrowers attending degree-granting institutions.

Now you can pay for college the smart way with three great repayment options and competitive interest rates! This loan is an ideal solution to help you pay for college expenses not covered by scholarship and federal loans.  You can learn more, apply or get started here.

The Smart Option Student Loan offers:

  • Multiple in-school repayment options plus a choice of competitive fixed and variable interest rates provides even more flexibility
  • No origination fees and no prepayment penalty
  • Rewards and interest rate reductions available
  • Rates that reward creditworthy borrowers
  • Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may help you qualify
  • 100% US-based Student Loan Specialists
  • Originated and serviced by Sallie Mae

Apply Now!

1-2-3 Approach to Paying for College

Paying for college responsibly

Invest in the future with Sallie Mae's 1-2-3 Approach to Paying for College

When you’re planning for college, the first question is often which school to choose. But just as important is the question of how you’ll pay for it. That’s why we’ve partnered with Sallie Mae® to bring you their 1-2-3 Approach to Paying for College. These three steps can help you make more informed, responsible financial decisions for a big investment in your future.

1. Start with money you won’t have to pay back. Supplement your college savings and income by maximizing scholarships, grants, and work-study.

Begin by taking stock of college savings that have been put aside in a dedicated college savings account. Include current income that you're earmarking for college. You can also take advantage of tuition payments plans, which let you pay tuition in installments (there may be a fee for the service). Maximize "free" money you will not have to pay back, including scholarships and grants. Then consider work-study.


Scholarships are offered by colleges and universities, federal and state governments, religious groups, professional associations, employers, and other companies. You might associate them exclusively with academic or athletic accomplishments, but they can be awarded for a number of criteria such as

Apply for scholarships-the earlier, the better, since many have deadlines.

Apply for scholarships every year you plan to attend college-not just for freshman year.

Grants and work-study

Grants and work-study are generally federally funded, so be sure to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for them. The FAFSA is also used to apply for most state loan, grant, and scholarship programs.

  • Pell Grants, the largest federal grant program, are based on financial need; unlike a loan, a Pell Grant doesn’t need to be paid back.
  • Work-study programs are offered by federal and state governments, as well as schools. They offer part-time jobs that let students earn money to help pay education expenses.

2. Explore federal student loans. Apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

After you've mazimized your free money, consider federal student loans, which are provided by the government. Some examples of federal loans include Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Direct Subsidized Loans are available for students with demonstrated need; and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, are available regardless of family income.

  • You can apply for both by filling out and submitting the FAFSA.
  • They're eligible for income-driven repayment plans that link monthly payments to income.
  • Federal loans may be eligible for loan forgiveness programs, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for borrowers who are employed by a public service organization.

3. Consider a responsible private student loan. Fill the gap between your available resources and the cost of college.

If you still need additional funds after following steps 1 and 2, consider a private student loan. Private loans differ from federal student loans in several ways:

  • They're originated by Sallie Mae.
  • They're credit-based: the lender reviews your credit score and history to determine if you qualify. A cosigner-parent, guardian, or other adult - may improve the chances of approval. Some lenders offer a cosigner release option.
  • Your interest rate is based on several factors, including your creditworthiness and the loan terms and options that you choose.
  • Private student loans may offer different features, terms and options, and benefits that can help reduce your interest rate and/or total loan cost.

Encouraging responsible borrowing

Sallie Mae has helped more than 34 million Americans pay for college since 1972. We encourage students and families to supplement their savings by exploring grants, scholarships, federal and state student loans, and to consider the anticipated monthly payments on their total student loan debt and their expected future earnings before considering a private education loan.

Federal student loan information was gathered on July 25, 2016 from; check that site for the most up-to-date information on federal student loans. Rates, fees, and availability of federal student loans are subject to change by the federal government.

*See eligibility criteria.

Interest rates, fees, terms, and borrower benefits for private student loans are based on a July 25, 2016 review of national school-certified private loan programs offered by publicly-traded companies or subsidiaries thereof. Sallie Mae, the Sallie Mae logo, and other Sallie Mae names and logos are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank or its subsidiaries. All other names and logos used are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Sallie Mae Bank, are not sponsored by or agencies the United States of America. © 2016 Sallie Mae Bank. All rights reserved. SMSCH MKT11952 0816

Senior Year Calendar

Calendar to help high school seniors and their families organize

Senior Year Calendar for College Entrance


Websites to help you pay for college

Scholarship Search Engines

Fastweb - Search for scholarships for college students with free matching service for scholarships. Also learn about financial aid. - Free college scholarship search.

bigfuture - Find scholarships and other financial aid.

Other Helpful Websites (U.S. Department of Education website) - Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (U.S. Department of Education website)- Instruction on how to view federal student loan documents, entrance counseling and how to sign promissory notes. (U.S. Department of Education website) - College affordability and transparency center for the U.S. Department of Education. - (U.S. Department of Education website) - Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. It is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

PHEAA (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency) - Pennsylvania and national provider of student financial aid services, serving millions of students and thousands of schools through its loan guaranty, loan servicing, financial aid processing, outreach, and other student aid programs.

Education Planner - Your one-stop career and college planning website. A public service of PHEAA (the Pennsylvania  Higher Education Assistance Agency), its student loans servicing operations, FedLoan Servicing,  and AES (American Education Services).

You Can Deal With It - Provides a practical and easy-to-understand advice on how to deal with common financial situations facing today's college students and recent graduates. A public service of PHEAA , its student loans servicing operations, FedLoan Servicing,  and AES.

My Smart Borrowing - A free tool for calculating an affordable future. Answer a few simple questions and see how your college and career choices can affect your financial future. A public service of PHEAA , its student loans servicing operations, FedLoan Servicing,  and AES.