Ascent Student Loan Review: Undergrad and Graduate

 August 7, 2020
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Private Student Loan rates starting at 0.99% APR

0.99% to 11.98% 1
VARIABLE APR

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1.13% to 11.23% 2
VARIABLE APR

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0.99% to 11.44% 3
VARIABLE APR

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  • Variable APR

Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Any changes specifically to Ascent’s student loan offerings can be found on their website, but you can also check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.

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Ascent student loans are a good choice if you’re looking for flexible and money-saving payment options. Of course, that’s assuming you’ve already exhausted your options for federal student aid and scholarships.

Ascent also sticks out from the pack because it’s one of a few student loan lenders who will give out student loans without a cosigner, in some cases. It offers a lot of options which is good, but that also increases the complexity of its loans.

This Ascent student loans review will cover the following three main types of loan:

We’ll also cover the following topics:

Ascent undergraduate cosigned loans

Ascent Cosigned Credit-Based Student Loan
APR range ● Fixed: 2.97% to 12.95%
● Variable: 1.50% to 11.33%
Note: These rates include an autopay discount of 0.25% for credit-based loans and 2.00% for future-income-based loans.
Loan amount $1,000 to $200,000. You can only borrow a grand total of $200,000 across all loans.
Loan terms 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years.
If you choose a fixed-rate cosigned loan, you may only choose from a 5- or 10-year term length.
Fees No early payment or origination fees.
Grace period 9 months
Cosigner release You can apply for cosigner release after 24 months of on-time payments if you’re able to meet the qualifications to get a loan on your own, and if you’re signed up for autopay.

Eligibility requirements

Ascent offers cosigned loans, and the requirements are as follows:

  • Be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at least half-time
  • Cosigners must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Cosigners must earn at least $24,000 per year
  • Both students and cosigners must meet certain credit requirements, which Ascent doesn’t publish

Repayment options

Another of Ascent’s strong points is that it offers a lot of repayment options. Some of these repayment options can save you big bucks as you pay off your loan:

  • Interest-Only Repayment: You can choose to pay just the interest portion of your student loans while you’re in school. This will prevent your balance from growing at all.
  • $25 Minimum Repayment: You can choose to make a $25 monthly payment while you’re in school. This may make your balance grow at a smaller rate.
  • Deferred Repayment: This is the traditional repayment method where you don’t make any payments while you’re in school, and interest accrues at the fastest rate. Your balance will grow the largest with this repayment plan.
  • Graduated Repayment: For loans funded after May 17, 2019, you can now choose to enroll in a graduated repayment plan after you’re finished with school. This allows you to make smaller-than-normal payments in the beginning and larger-than-normal payments toward the end of the loan. This lets you pay it off in the same amount of time, but scales your payments so that you pay less in the beginning, when you’re likely not making as much money yet.

Like most student loan lenders, if you sign up for autopay, you’ll get a 0.25% interest rate reduction. This can be a big boost, especially if you choose to start repayment while you’re still in school, because you’ll be getting the smallest interest rate right from the very start.

Cash Back Graduation Reward

Another nice thing about Ascent student loans is that you can qualify for a cashback reward of 1% after you graduate. For a $10,000 loan, that translates into $100. You’ll need to meet some requirements to earn it:

  • Be signed up for autopay
  • Be current, and not late, on your student loan payments
  • You must have graduated within five years of getting your first Ascent student loan

If you do qualify, you’ll need to contact Ascent directly to request your reward. They won’t send it out automatically, and you may need to provide documents to show proof that you qualify.

Cosigning and cosigner release

Signing up to be a cosigner on someone’s loans isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. If your student misses their payments or defaults on the loan, you’ll now be on the hook for the full amount.

However, you can eventually be removed as a cosigner with Ascent student loans. In order to qualify for cosigner release, your student will need to meet all the criteria to qualify for a non-cosigned loan (these requirements are listed below), as well as having already made 24 on-time payments. Ascent currently only offers cosigner release to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents — unfortunately, DACA students do not qualify.

Ascent undergraduate non-cosigned loans

Ascent Non-Cosigned Credit-Based and Future-Income-Based Student Loans
APR range ● Fixed: 2.97% to 12.95%
● Variable: 1.50% to 11.33%
Note: These rates include an autopay discount of 0.25% for credit-based loans and 2.00% for future-income-based loans.
Loan amount $1,000 to $200,000. For future-income-based loans, you can only borrow $20,000 per academic year. You can only borrow a grand total of $200,000 across all loans.
Loan terms 10 years
If you choose a Non-Cosigned Credit-Based loan, you may also choose a 15-year term if you prefer.
Fees No early payment or origination fees.
Grace period 9 months
Minimum credit score N/A

Eligibility requirements

There are two options for Ascent student loans without cosigners. The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loans: You must be a junior or senior who is enrolled full-time in a degree program. You also must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have a GPA of 2.9 or higher and be at least 18 years old.
  • Non-Cosigned Credit-Based Loans: You must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In addition, you must have at least two years’ worth of credit history, be currently earning at least $24,000 per year, and meet a certain debt-to-income ratio that Ascent doesn’t publicize.

Repayment options

If you opt for a non-cosigned loan, you can still choose from the four repayment plans noted above: Interest-only, $25 minimum payment, deferred repayment or graduated repayment.

The only thing that differs is that if you choose a Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based loan, you’ll get an even bigger interest rate reduction of 2.00% for signing up for autopay.

Credit-based vs. future income-based options

If you’re an adult learner who’s returning to school on a part-time basis to get your undergraduate degree, the Non-Cosigned Credit-Based loan might be a good option for you. That’s because you’ll need to have at least two years’ worth of credit history and currently be earning at least $24,000 per year.

On the other hand, if you don’t yet have the income or credit chops to qualify for the Non-Cosigned Credit-Based loan and if you’re in the final two years of your undergraduate study, the Non-Cosigned Future-Income-Based loan might be a better option for you. This one doesn’t have any minimum income or credit requirements.

How to apply for Ascent undergraduate loans

Ascent offers prequalification so that you can check your rate without negatively affecting your credit score. You can do this by filling out an application on its website.

As the student, you’ll need the following bits of information to complete the application:

  • Your school’s name and the state where it’s located
  • The type of degree you’re seeking and your major
  • What year you are (freshman, sophomore, junior or senior)
  • Your enrollment status (half-time or full-time)
  • How you’ll be taking classes (online, in-person or both)
  • When you think you’ll graduate

If you like the rates that Ascent funding offers, you can proceed with your application to get funding.

If you’re applying for a Non-Cosigned Credit-Based loan, you’ll need to provide documentation showing your income as well.

How to apply as a cosigner

Similarly, if you’re a cosigner, you’ll need to fill out a separate application on Ascent’s website. You’ll need to have this information on hand, among other things:

  • Your student’s school name and where it’s located
  • What type of tuition (in-state, out-of-state or private) your student is paying
  • How much financial aid your student has been approved for by their school
  • Which school terms and loan amounts your student is applying for help with

How Ascent deferment and forbearance works

If you run into trouble making your payments, Ascent offers many different deferment and forbearance options to help, along with set limits:

  • Active duty military deferment: If you’re called up for active duty during a war, military operation or national emergency, you may be able to defer payments for up to 36 months.
  • In-school deferment: You can defer payments while you’re in school until you graduate or drop down below half-time enrollment.
  • Residency/Clerkship/Internship/Fellowship deferment: If you have at least a bachelor’s degree and you’re accepted into one of these post-graduation training programs, you can defer payments in 12-month increments for up to 48 months in a row.
  • Temporary hardship forbearance: If you run into financial struggles, you can apply for forbearance. You’ll get to choose between one and three months of forbearance, with a limit of four consecutive months at a time. You can split these up for a grand total of 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan.
  • Administrative forbearance: If you’re disputing something with Ascent, the company might put your account into administrative forbearance until it’s resolved.
  • Natural disaster/Declared emergency forbearance: If something catastrophic happens in your area and upends your life, you may be able to get up to three months of forbearance.

How to make Ascent student loan payments

The easiest way to make payments on your Ascent student loans is by signing up for autopay. You get two benefits from this: 1) you’ll never have to remember to make your payment, and 2) you’ll get an interest rate reduction of 0.25% (or 2.00%, if you have a Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loan).

If you’d like to sign up for autopay or to figure out your other payment options, you’ll need to contact Launch Servicing. This is a third-party loan servicer that Ascent has hired to handle collections on its loans, similar to how the federal government hires loan servicers to handle payment for federal student loans.

How to contact customer service

If you’re still in the process of applying for Ascent private student loans or have any questions before you start, the Ascent student loans phone number and email is:

877-216-0876
[email protected]
If you’ve already taken out an Ascent loan, you can contact Launch Servicing with any questions at:
877-354-2629
[email protected]

Pros and cons of Ascent undergraduate loans

Pros Cons
● Good interest rates
● Options for cosigned or non-cosigned loans
● Lots of repayment options
● 1% cashback graduation reward program
● Non-cosigned loans only available to credit and income-worthy students, or those close to graduating
● Fewer term length options for fixed-rate loans

Ascent graduate loans

Alongside the undergraduate loans discussed above, Ascent also offers loans for grad school, including specialty loans for certain degree programs. Here are the options — and note that all rates are current except as indicated below:

MBA student loans

  • Fixed APR: 3.02% to 12.95%
  • Variable APR: 1.51% to 11.08%

Medical school student loans

  • Fixed APR: 3.02% to 12.95% 
  • Variable APR: 1.51% to 11.08%

    Law school student loans

    • Fixed APR: 3.02% to 12.95%
    • Variable APR: 1.51% to 11.08%

      How to refinance your Ascent student loans

      If you’re not happy with your Ascent loans, you can always choose to refinance with another lender. If you’re looking to do this, make sure you claim your 1% cashback graduation reward first, because you won’t be eligible to claim it after you’ve refinanced.

      Make sure you check your interest rate, loan term length and monthly payment with your new lender if you’re looking to refinance. For example, if you’re trying to save money on the overall cost of your loan, finding the shortest term length and lowest APR makes sense. If you’re not able to afford your payments for the foreseeable future, finding another option with a low interest rate and a longer loan term length could help you out.

      Ben Luthi contributed to this report.

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