Ascent Private Student Loans Review

Loans, Student Loans
ascent-private-student-loan-reviews-independent-tuition-loans

The Ascent Program for Funding Education, an online lender known as Ascent, offers two student loan products: one for students who want to borrow independently (Ascent Independent) and one for borrowers with a co-signer (Ascent Tuition). Borrowers can choose between a fixed- or variable-rate loan, as well as from three different repayment terms. To ensure borrowers know what they’re getting into when they borrow money, all Ascent loans require applicants to take a short financial literacy course.

Before turning to private student loans, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA, to see if you’re eligible for grants, scholarships, work-study and federal student loans.

Ascent Independent student loan review

The Ascent Independent private student loan, launched in April 2017, looks at more than just credit scores and income so student borrowers can qualify for a loan without a co-signer. A borrower’s major, graduation date and future earnings potential are all taken into consideration. It’s best for borrowers who do not have access to a co-signer since interest rates are higher than those available to students with co-signers.


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At a glance

  • Fixed rates: 5.37% to 14.36% APR. Variable rates: 3.99% to 12.74% APR.
  • Available loan terms: Five, 12 or 15 years. Borrowers who choose a fixed-rate option may only select a five- or 12-year term. For loans with low balances, the minimum monthly payment amount may cause a shorter term.
  • Borrowing limits: $1,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance.

Do you qualify?

 Minimum qualifications
Credit score
Not specified
IncomeFuture earnings potential is factored in
Debt-to-income ratioFuture earnings potential is factored in
EducationEnrolled at least half time in an eligible school

No co-signer is allowed or needed for this type of loan. When evaluating student applicants, Ascent considers factors including creditworthiness, school, program, graduation date, major, cost of attendance and future earnings potential. Ascent looks at a potential borrower’s credit score, but a lack of credit or a low credit score will not automatically make them ineligible. A student’s program of study and likely outcomes are tied to the amount they will be approved to borrow. But interest rates do not differ between program or major.

To be eligible for funding, all borrowers are required to complete a brief online financial literacy course as part of the application process.

» COMPARE: Private student loans

Repayment options

  • In-school interest-only repayment: Make interest-only payments while enrolled at least half time.
  • $25 minimum repayment: Make set monthly payment amounts of at least $25 while enrolled at least half time.
  • Deferred repayment: Payments begin up to six months after graduation or leaving school.

Borrowers will get the lowest rate by opting for the in-school interest-only repayment option. They can also get a lower rate for choosing a shorter repayment term.

Where Ascent Independent student loans shine

No credit score, income or co-signer required: This is especially beneficial for students who would otherwise not qualify for a loan and may not have a co-signer available. This loan could benefit borrowers with high earnings potential post-graduation who may qualify for lower interest rates now.

Relatively long forbearance period: Borrowers undergoing financial hardship can benefit from temporary forbearance benefits that lasts longer than what many other lenders offer. Ascent’s forbearance allows for 24 total months over the life of the loan in up to four consecutive periods. Lenders Discover and Sallie Mae, for example, only offer up to 12 months of forbearance.

Where Ascent Independent student loans fall short

No co-signer puts more pressure on student borrowers: When you borrow a loan to pay for college, your intention is to pay it back yourself. But if you can’t meet the payments and there’s no co-signer to fall back on, you’ll put yourself at greater risk of default. Those who choose the shortest, five-year repayment term will especially want a firm plan for repayment since there’s less time to pay back the loan and their monthly payments may be larger.

Higher fixed interest rates than most other private student loans: Other lenders may offer student loan products with much lower fixed interest rates for those who defer payments until after leaving school. CollegeAve, for example, offers fixed-rate loans as low as 4.45%, and Sallie Mae offers a fixed-rate loan as low as 5.74%. But these lenders generally require a co-signer for students without sufficient credit history.

Loan details

Fees:

  • Late fee of 5% of the amount past due, but not less than $5 or greater than $25.
  • Returned payments due to insufficient funds fee of $25
  • No origination, prepayment, disbursement or loan application fees

Loan servicing: University Accounting Service

Grace period, deferment and forbearance:

  • Temporary hardship forbearance: Each period must be a minimum of one month to a maximum of three months. Borrowers have a maximum of 24 total months of forbearance during the life of the loan. A borrower may apply for up to four consecutive periods of temporary hardship forbearance.
  • Active duty military deferment: 36 months
  • In-school deferment: 24 months

Next steps

Compare multiple private student loan options to find the lender that’s best for you. If you’re ready to apply for a loan with Ascent, check your eligibility on the Ascent student loans website. If you’re eligible, you’ll need to create an account and apply through the campusdoor.com app linked to Ascent.

You’ll need the following when you apply:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your school attendance information, including major, expected graduation, estimated financial aid you’ll receive, housing status and the term your loan funds will cover
  • Your driver’s license or state ID information
  • Your employment information, if applicable
  • A personal reference, like a friend or family member

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Ascent Tuition co-signed student loan review

Ascent Tuition is a student loan for borrowers without sufficient credit or income to get a loan on their own. Borrowing with a co-signer means your co-signer is on the hook for your loans if you can’t make payments. To ensure you know what you’re getting into, both borrower and co-signer are required to complete a short online financial literacy course as part of the application process. Once you make 24 consecutive on-time payments, you can request to release your co-signer and take on the loan for the remainder of your term.


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At a glance

  • Fixed rates: 4.87% to 11.35% APR. Variable rates: 3.49% to 9.74%
  • Available loan terms: Five, 12 or 15 years. Borrowers who choose a fixed-rate option may select only a five- or 12-year term. For loans with low balances, the minimum monthly payment amount may cause a shorter term.
  • Borrowing limits: $1,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance.

Do you qualify?

 Minimum qualifications
Income$24,000 (co-signer income)
EducationStudent borrower must be enrolled at least half time in an eligible school

To qualify, creditworthiness of the co-signer as well as the borrower’s school, program, graduation date, major, cost of attendance and other factors are considered. Borrowers who have a co-signer will typically qualify for a lower interest rate than Ascent Independent loan borrowers.

» COMPARE: Private student loans

Repayment options

  • In-school interest-only repayment: Make interest-only payments while enrolled at least half time.
  • $25 minimum payment: Make set monthly payments of at least $25 while enrolled at least half time.
  • Deferred repayment: Payments begin up to six months after graduation or leaving school.

Where Ascent Tuition co-signed student loans shine

Relatively long forbearance period: Borrowers undergoing financial hardship can benefit from temporary forbearance benefits that last longer than what many other lenders offer. Ascent’s forbearance allows for 24 total months over the life of the loan with up to four consecutive periods. Lenders Discover and Sallie Mae, for example, only offer up to 12 months of forbearance.

Co-signer requirement means better rates: By having a co-signer you’re more likely to have a lower interest rate, especially when compared to the rates offered by the Ascent Independent loan. Also, while you shouldn’t depend on them, your co-signer will be required to repay the loan if you can’t, so you’re not completely on your own.

But most private student loans require borrowers without sufficient credit history to have a co-signer. So compare rates you’re offered for the Ascent co-signed student loan with other options to make sure you get the best available rate for you.

Where Ascent Tuition co-signed student loans fall short

Your co-signer will have to pay if you can’t: The downside to having a co-signer is they’re on the hook to pay your loan if you can’t. If you have trouble making payments and the responsibility falls on your co-signer, he or she may be at risk for default if they can’t pay.

To avoid potential financial stress on your co-signer, choose a reasonable loan amount and repayment term. For example, don’t choose a five-year repayment term just because it’s the shortest option unless you know you can make the required payments each month. A 12-year term might be more feasible, and you can always pay off your loan faster with no penalty if you’re able to.

Loan details

Fees:

  • Late fee of 5% of the amount past due, but not less than $5 or greater than $25
  • Returned payments due to insufficient funds fee of $25
  • No origination, prepayment, disbursement or loan application fees

Loan servicing: University Accounting Service

Grace period, deferment and forbearance:

  • Temporary hardship forbearance: Each period must be a minimum of one month to a maximum of three months. Borrowers have a maximum of 24 total months of forbearance during the life of the loan. A borrower may apply for up to four consecutive periods of temporary hardship forbearance.
  • Active duty military deferment: 36 months
  • In-school deferment: 24 months

Next steps

Compare multiple private student loan options to find the lender that’s best for you. If you’re ready to apply for a loan with Ascent, check your eligibility on the Ascent student loans website. If you’re eligible, you’ll need to create an account and apply through the campusdoor.com app linked to Ascent.

You’ll need the following when you apply jointly with a co-signer:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Your school attendance information including major, expected graduation, tuition payment type, estimated financial aid you’ll receive, housing status and the term your loan funds will cover
  • Driver’s licenses or other government-issued identification
  • Employment information and proof of income
  • A personal reference, like a friend or family member

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Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: anna@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski.