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Ascent Reviews: Co-Signed and Independent Private Student Loans

Ascent offers two student loans: a co-signed loan and an independent option for students without a co-signer.
Sept. 5, 2018
Loans, Student Loans
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Ascent is an online lender that offers two types of student loans: Ascent Tuition, a traditional co-signer loan, and Ascent Independent, which allows undergraduate juniors and seniors as well as graduate students to borrow without a co-signer. Here we review the Ascent Tuition loan; you’ll find a review of the Ascent Independent loan option below.

Review of Ascent Independent private student loan

Ascent Tuition private student loan

5.0 NerdWallet rating

Ascent Tuition is best for those who are planning to use a co-signer and want to pay off loans fast. Ascent Tuition borrowers can allocate overpayments to multiple accounts or a single account, and they also can make biweekly payments via autopay. Ascent offers lower rates for its Tuition loans than its Independent loan option.

Ascent Tuition private student loan at a glance:

• Generous forbearance options.

• Co-signer required.

• Offers multiple in-school repayment options including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.

Ascent_FullColor_Stacked_Logo
Reviewed loanPrivate student loan for undergraduates
Loan termsFive, 10 or 15 years for variable-rate loans. Five or 10 years for fixed-rate loans.
Loan amounts$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.
Grace period6 months
Co-signer release availableYes
Related productsPrivate Graduate student loans

How Ascent Tuition 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:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Average
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:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Above average
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.

Supports customers:
Average
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 Tuition could improve

Ascent Tuition, like other five-star loan options, isn’t perfect. Ascent Tuition could improve by:

  • Keeping its advertised fixed interest rates below 10%.
  • Offering borrowers personalized rate estimates without affecting credit.

Compare Ascent Tuition’s range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders.

Ascent Tuition 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.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 680.
  • Minimum income: $24,000.
  • 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.

Other

  • Citizenship: Borrowers can be U.S. citizens, permanent residents or international students. All must have a qualified co-signer.
  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 states.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.
  • 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: All undergraduate borrowers must have a co-signer.

In-school repayment options:

  • 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 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.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Loan servicer: University Accounting Service.
  • 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 Tuition student loan

Before taking out an Ascent Tuition 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.


Ascent Independent private student loan

4.5 NerdWallet rating

Ascent’s Independent option is one of the few private student loans available to students with no credit, income or co-signer. It’s only available to juniors, seniors or graduate students. Ascent evaluates your application on more than just credit, assessing your earning potential, major and attendance in school.

Ascent Independent private student loans at a glance:

  • Generous forbearance options.
  • No co-signer or credit history required.
  • Higher rates than most co-signed student loan options.
Ascent_FullColor_Stacked_Logo
Reviewed loanPrivate student loan for undergraduate juniors and seniors
Loan terms10 or 15 years for variable-rate loans. 10 years for fixed-rate loans.
Loan amounts$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.
Grace period6 months
Co-signer acceptedNo
Related productsPrivate Graduate student loans

How Ascent Independent 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:
Average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Below average
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:
Average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Above average
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.

Supports customers:
Average
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 Independent could improve

Ascent Independent could improve by:

• Keeping its advertised fixed interest rates below 10%.

• Offering borrowers personalized rate estimates without affecting credit.

• Offering additional loan term options that are less than 10 years.

Compare Ascent Independent’s range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders.

Ascent Independent 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 credit history, if any, and financial situation. To see what rate Ascent will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

Ascent considers future earnings rather than emphasizing current income or credit as part of its underwriting process.

  • Minimum credit score: 680.
  • Minimum income: $24,000.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 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: Borrowers may have no reported bankruptcy within the past 5 years. Borrowers must meet other financial requirements including having not defaulted on any private or government student loan; have no delinquencies of 60 or more days during the previous two years; no charge-offs or collections accounts over $100; and no unsatisfied repossessions, judgments, tax liens, foreclosures or garnishments by creditors.

Other

  • Citizenship: Borrowers must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 states.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes. 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 a traditional two-year or four-year degree-granting institution.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: This loan does not require a co-signer.

  • 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.
  • Repayment preferences

    • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
    • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

    • Loan servicer: University Accounting Service.
    • 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 Independent student loan

    Before taking out an Ascent Independent 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.

    5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

    4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

    4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

    3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

    3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

    2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution