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Ascent Review: Private Student Loans

Ascent offers two student loan options: Co-signed and non-co-signed.
Aug. 28, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
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4.5 NerdWallet rating

Bottom line: Best for students who want to use a co-signer and pay off loans fast or upperclassmen and graduate students with no credit, income or co-signer.

Reviewed loanCo-signed and non-co-signed private student loans for undergraduates
Loan termsCo-signed option: 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 amountsCo-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 period6 months
Co-signer release availableYes, for the co-signed loan option.
Related productsPrivate graduate student loans

Pros & Cons


  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.
  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.
  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
  • For non-co-signed option, no co-signer or credit history is required.


  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Non-co-signed option is available only to college juniors, seniors and graduate students.

Full Review

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 at a glance

  • Generous forbearance options.
  • Offers co-signed loan borrowers multiple in-school repayment options including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
  • Borrowers who don’t have a co-signer or credit history can qualify.

How Ascent could improve

Ascent could improve by offering:

  • Advertised fixed interest rates below 10%.
  • Personalized rate estimates without a hard credit check.

Ascent private student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.
  • Loan terms: Co-signed option: 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. Ten 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.
  • 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: 600 for primary borrowers and 660 for co-signers who choose 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: Yes, after five years have passed.


  • 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.
  • Types of schools served: 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 repayment: 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.
  • Co-signer release available: Yes, for the co-signed loan option.
  • Death or disability discharge: 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: 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 for approval: Varies with each borrower.

  • 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.
  • Refer a Friend Program: Borrowers can get up to $600 per year by referring friends to Ascent. For every friend you refer who applies for a loan and is approved, you’ll get a $100 gift card.
  • $50,000 Summer Scholarship Giveaway: Ascent is giving away $1,000 a day for 50 days through Aug. 27 through its Instagram @ascentstudentloans.

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.


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

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