Ascent is an online lender that offers two options for student loan borrowers: a traditional co-signed loan and another aimed at borrowers who lack a credit history, co-signer or income.
The co-signed loan is a good fit for borrowers who plan to use a co-signer and want to pay off loans fast. The co-signed option offers lower interest rates.
The non-co-signed loan — available only to juniors, seniors and graduate students — is one of only a few available to borrowers with no credit, income or co-signer.
Ascent borrowers can allocate overpayments to multiple accounts or a single account, and they also can make biweekly payments via autopay. These features help borrowers pay off debt faster.
Ascent private student loan at a glance:
- Generous forbearance options.
- Offers co-signed loan borrowers multiple in-school repayment options including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
- Option for borrowers who don’t have a co-signer or credit history.
|Reviewed loan||Co-signed and non-co-signed private student loans for undergraduates|
Five, 10 or 15 years for variable-rate loans. Five or 10 years for fixed-rate loans.
Non-co-signed option: 10 or 15 years for variable-rate loans. 10 years for fixed-rate loans.
|Loan amounts||Co-signed option: $2,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance.
Non-co-signed option: $2,000 to total cost of attendance.
|Grace period||6 months|
|Co-signer release available||Yes, for the co-signed loan option.|
|Related products||Private Graduate student loans|
How Ascent private student loans score
NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether Ascent ranks below average, average or above average compared with other private student loan lenders.
Enables faster repayment:
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.
Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying for the loan.
Serves range of borrowers:
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.
Offers payment flexibility:
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible repayment policies that help borrowers during tough times.
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.
How Ascent could improve
Ascent, like other five-star loan options, isn’t perfect. Ascent could improve by:
- Keeping its advertised fixed interest rates below 10%.
- Offering borrowers personalized rate estimates without affecting credit.
Ascent private student loan details
- Get a personalized rate before applying: No.
- Application or origination fee: No.
- Prepayment penalty: No.
- Late fees: Yes, a fee equal to 5% of the amount of the past due payment applies after the payment is 10 days late. The minimum late fee is $5; the maximum is $25, except where prohibited by law.
Compare Ascent’s range of interest rates with private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your co-signer’s credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Ascent will offer you, apply on its website.
Ascent’s non-co-signed option takes into account a borrower’s future earnings rather than emphasizing current income or credit as part of its underwriting process. For the co-signed option, borrowers must meet credit and income requirements.
- Minimum credit score: 680 for the co-signed option. Credit score is not considered for the non-co-signed option.
- Minimum income: $24,000 for the co-signed option. Income is not considered for the non-co-signed option.
- Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
- Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
- Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
- Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Not typically, according to Ascent.
- Citizenship: Borrowers can be U.S. citizens, permanent residents or international students. The same requirements apply to co-signers.
- Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 states.
- Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes. non-co-signed borrowers must also meet satisfactory academic performance requirements with a 2.5 GPA or higher.
- Must attend a Title IV-accredited school: Borrowers must attend an eligible school, typically traditional two-year or four-year degree-granting institutions.
- Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 100% for the co-signed option and 0% for the non-co-signed option.
In-school repayment options for co-signed loan borrowers:
- Deferred repayment: No payments while you’re in school and until your grace period ends six months after leaving school or dropping below half-time. Since there are no prepayment penalties, you may opt to make payments sooner. Interest will continue to accrue while you’re in school whether you pay or not. The interest that accrues will capitalize, or be added to your principal balance, at the end of your grace period.
- Flat-fee payment: Pay $25 every month while enrolled in school and during the grace period. This option will save you more than deferred repayment, but slightly less than interest-only repayment. You can pay a set monthly payment while enrolled in school at least half-time.
- In-school interest-only repayment: Pay interest every month you’re enrolled at least half-time in school and during the grace period. This option will likely save you the most money.
Post-school and non-co-signed loan repayment options
- In-school deferment: Yes, students enrolled at least half-time are eligible for up to 24 months of deferment.
- Military deferment: Yes, active-duty service members can defer payments for a cumulative 36 months.
- Reduced payments for medical and dental residents: Bachelor’s degree holders can defer payments if accepted into a residency or internship program for up to 24 months.
- Forbearance: Postpone loan payments up to four consecutive periods lasting anywhere from one to three months. Borrowers have a 24-month limit on forbearance. Forbearance will not extend the loan’s repayment term, and interest will continue to accrue on the loan.
- Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower? Yes, the loan is forgiven if the student dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled. The loan is not forgiven in cases where the non-student borrower, including any co-signer, dies or becomes totally or permanently disabled.
- Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
- Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.
- Loan servicer: Launch Servicing LLC.
- In-house customer service team: Yes.
- Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
- Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
- Average time from application to approval: Did not disclose.
- Cash-back reward: Borrowers are eligible for a 1% cash-back graduation reward upon satisfaction of certain terms and conditions.
- Online financial literacy course: If you’re approved for a loan, you’ll need to take a brief course before receiving funding.
How to apply for an Ascent student loan
Before taking out an Ascent student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.
» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide
Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.
If you’re ready to borrow with Ascent, you can apply on its website.
STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY
NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
— Among the very best for consumer-friendly features
— Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features
— Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features
— Good; may not offer something important to you
— Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features
— Poor; proceed with great caution