Of course each person's needs will be different, but to tell you the truth, my daughter doesn't even use her PNC card all that much. She uses her Panther Card for meals on campus, of course. But you can put additional funds on the Panther Card so your student can use it at local merchants like CVS, Cold Stone Creamery (which would be my top pick!), Panera Bread, Joe Mama's (Italian food), Fuel and Fuddle, Caribou Coffee, Starbucks and many others. It's very easy to load funds onto the Panther Card online, and it's convenient for the students to only worry about one card. However, when the kids need cash, they can't get that off a Panther Card. The students with Citizens accounts can use the cash machines at the Towers by paying a fee, I'm assuming. I'm sorry, I don't know how much that would be.
Here's the list of merchants, both on campus and off, that take the Panther Card: http://www.pc.pitt.edu/card/merchantlist.html