Ascent Private Student Loans: Pros, Cons, and Reviews

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 10/29/20

CollegeFinance Score: ★★★★☆

 

Ascent offers a variety of private student loan options for undergraduate and graduate borrowers. For those with little to no credit history, Ascent private student loans may be a good option. You can choose to have a co-signer or not, depending on a number of factors, including your year in school, GPA, academic program, and more. Though note that applying with a credit-worthy co-signer will significantly improve your likelihood of getting approved – and of getting a better rate.

Pros:

  • Customizable loan terms
  • Financial wellness resources provided
  • Some borrowers may be eligible without a co-signer
  • Co-signer release option
  • Ascent Rewards – 1% rebate at graduation

Cons:

  • Best for borrowers with good credit
  • Ascent considers more than a credit score

Ascent: What You Need to Know

Ascent aims to help students fund school and reach their dreams. They believe that student loans should help students expand their possibilities instead of hinder them. For this reason, Ascent created a private student loan program for students who may or may not have a co-signer. They aspire to help borrowers in their journey to financial wellness by incorporating financial education into the application process and encouraging education as an investment. 

In short, Ascent aims to

  • Expand access to higher education 
  • Encourage financial wellness to students and their families 
  • Instill better decision-making 

Ascent private student loans for graduate students are meant to help borrowers pay for their master, doctoral, or professional degree. They offer a co-signed credit-based loan or a non-co-signed credit-based student loan. Whether you’re an undergraduate student or graduate student, Ascent offers loans to help you cover the costs of education. 

Undergraduate options:

  • Co-signed credit-based loan or non-co-signed credit-based loan: If you don’t qualify for a loan on your own, you can add a co-signer. After 24 consecutive, regularly scheduled payments, you can apply to release your co-signer.  
  • Non-co-signed future income-based loan: This loan option is available to eligible juniors and seniors. This loan option was designed for student borrowers without a credit score and who do not currently meet the income requirement. 

Ascent’s BBB Rating: No Rating

Through our research, it was discovered that Ascent does not have a rating by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or appear on the review site Trustpilot. However, it’s still a good idea to be familiar with the BBB’s rating system for the future. 

Businesses on the website may be rated anywhere between an A+ (highest) and an F (lowest). However, in some cases, the BBB will not assign a rating due to reasons that include insufficient information.

Listed below are some of the criteria used for rating by the BBB:

  • Business’s complaint history: They take into account the number of complaints filed, the size of the business, the age of resolved complaints, etc. 
  • Type of business: If the business type raises some level of concern in the marketplace or might violate any laws, the BBB will rate it lower.
  • Time in business: The BBB takes into account how long the business has been operating. 
  • Transparent business practices: If the BBB finds that the business is not transparent, the business will have a lower score. 
  • Failure to honor commitments: A business’s rating can be lowered if they do not continue to honor commitments to the BBB.
  • Licensing and government actions: The BBB takes into consideration any issues with licensing and finalized government filings. They also perform checks before a business is accredited by the BBB. 
  • Advertising issues: Lastly, the BBB lowers business’s scores that have advertising that misuses the BBB name or is inaccurate.

Ascent: Potential Benefits for Borrowers

If you are looking for a flexible private student loan, Ascent is a good option. Since they offer both co-signer and non-co-signer student loan options for undergraduate and graduate students of different income levels, they are a good option for many borrowers. Ascent student loans are an especially good option for first-time borrowers, as they encourage financial literacy and provide resources to teach borrowers.  

  • Customizable loan term: Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate borrower, Ascent private student loans allow you to customize your loan repayment terms. Loans can be repaid anywhere between five and 20 years. 
  • Monthly payments that work: With Ascent private student loans, you can choose to make monthly payments while in school or defer until you’ve finished school. They offer multiple repayment options to fit your financial needs while getting your education. 
  • Financial resources: Part of Ascent’s goals is to instill financial wellness in borrowers. For this reason, they provide borrowers with helpful resources. Additionally, all borrowers must complete a financial wellness module to finish the application. 
  • Efficient loan process: Once you’ve submitted your application, you may be able to start choosing your repayment process. From there, you should know if you are approved within two business days. Afterward, your school must certify the loan, and you will be notified of your disbursement dates.   
  • Co-signer options: Depending on your credit history and annual income, you may or may not qualify for a loan on your own. Ascent offers different loan options, depending on your financial situation. Even if you need a co-signer, you can release the co-signer after making 24 consecutive, regularly scheduled full principal and interest payments on time. 
  • Ascent Rewards: Upon graduation, borrower may be eligible for a rebate of 1% of principal.
  • Multiple deferment options: Borrowers can defer payment after completing a deferment form and providing any requested documentation. Ascent allows loan deferment in specific situations, which include: active military duty deferment, in-school deferment, residency or internship deferment, temporary hardship forbearance, administrative forbearance, and natural disaster or declared emergency forbearance. 
  • Several grace period options: Depending on the type of student loan, you could have a grace period of nine, 12, or even 36 months. For most Ascent student loans, borrowers are eligible for a nine-month grace period. Borrowers with Ascent dental school student loans are eligible for up to a 12-month grace period, while those with Ascent medical school student loans have up to a 36-month grace period. 

Ascent: Potential Drawbacks for Borrowers 

Like all lenders, there are some drawbacks to Ascent private student loans. In most cases, these drawbacks will not be deal breakers. Nonetheless, it’s important to look at every angle before deciding to take on a private student loan. 

  • Best for borrowers with good credit: If you or a co-signer do not have the best credit score, you will likely have to pay higher rates. 
  • They consider more than a credit score: Ascent private student loans may look beyond credit history. For example, the future income-based student loan takes a potential borrower’s GPA, major, school, graduation date, and more into consideration.  

Ascent: The Details

Loan Amounts and Term Lengths

Minimum loan amount: $1,000

Loan term options: Flexible 5-, 7-, 10-, 12-, 15-, or 20-year term

Multi-year approval available: Not disclosed

Interest Rate Ranges

Fixed and variable rates available: Yes

Fixed low APR: 3.53%

Fixed high APR: 14.50%

Variable low APR: 2.69%

Variable high APR: 12.98%

Repayment Options

In-school payment options: Ascent offers four in-school payment options:

  • Full monthly payments (interest and principal) 
  • Interest-only monthly payments 
  • Monthly $25 minimum repayment
  • No payments while in school

Grace period: Ascent offers several grace periods, which include: 

  • A nine-month grace period for undergraduate, law, MBA, general graduate, and health professionals student loans 
  • A 12-month grace period for dental school student loans 
  • Up to a 36-month grace period for medical school student loans 

Co-signer release available: Yes, Ascent offers a co-signer release after making 24 consecutive, regularly scheduled full principal and interest payments on time.
Bank Lender of Record: Richland State Bank

Other Perks and Options

Interest rate discounts: They offer a 0.25% autopay discount for credit-based loans and a 2% discount for undergraduate future income-based loans. 

Other rewards or services: Ascent offers borrowers a 1% cash back graduation reward and a $1,000 student scholarship every month.

Ascent: Eligibility and Application Requirements

Eligibility Details

Income requirements: You or your co-signer must have an annual income of at least $24,000. 

Credit score requirements: A minimum credit history of two years 

Eligibility for international borrowers: International students are eligible for Ascent private student loans if they have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer. 

Application Details

Application or origination fees: None

Soft pull rate check availability: Yes, Ascent offers a soft pull credit check so that you can check your eligibility without harming your credit score.  

Private Student Loans: Understanding Your Options

Before you consider private student loans, it’s wise to consider federal student loans first. This is because federal student loans tend to have better benefits, interest rates, and repayment options. Federal student loans are the best choice for borrowers, as they offer income-based repayment options, public service loan forgiveness, and are subsidized. 

Funds for federal student loans come from the U.S. Department of Education and include four types of Direct loans:

  1. Direct subsidized loans are given to eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.
  2. Direct unsubsidized loans are given to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
  3. Direct PLUS loans are given to graduate or professional students or parents of dependent undergraduate students. This loan type requires a credit check.
  4. Direct consolidation loans enable borrowers to combine all of their eligible federal student loans.

 

Although federal student loans are typically better options for students, they do have a cap. For undergraduate students who borrow Direct subsidized loans and Direct unsubsidized loans, they can borrow no more than $5,000 to $12,500 per year, depending on their dependency status. Graduate students with Direct unsubsidized loans can borrow up to $20,500 annually. These amounts are not always enough to cover all of the costs associated with education, so there are private student loans. 

Private student loans are similar to federal student loans, but they have different benefits. Because private student loans have less advantageous interest rates and repayment options, they should only be resorted to once grants, scholarships, and federal student loans have been exhausted. In some cases, private student loans can offer lower interest rates than federal student loans to those with a co-signer with strong credit and income. 

Before choosing any student loan, you should: 

  • Understand the terms of your loan: It’s important to fully understand your loan terms before you commit. After you sign for the loan, you should keep copies of all documents related to the loan to refer to. 
  • Research starting salaries: Because salaries vary from state to state and job to job, it’s important to research what you should expect to earn when you graduate. This way, you can ensure that you will be able to make your monthly payments.
  • Consider the differences between federal and private loans: Generally speaking, federal student loans tend to be the best option for students. Before you make any decisions, consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of each loan type. 

Is Ascent Right for You?

Ascent private student loans are a great option for students who need additional funds to cover the costs associated with their education. Although it is always wise to use financial aid and federal student loans first, Ascent offers borrowers affordable repayment options with or without a co-signer. 

Ascent offers borrowers additional benefits, such as cash back and referral bonuses. After graduation, Ascent offers eligible borrowers a chance to get 1% of their loan back as a cash reward. Additionally, they offer borrowers who suggest Ascent to their friends a $100 gift card. 

Regardless of your financial needs, Ascent could be a good fit. This is because they offer students varying loan amounts, ranging from $2,000 to $200,000 each year.  

As with any loan, there are some downsides. Most prominently, you could face higher interest rates without a co-signer. This is particularly an issue for some borrowers with sparse credit history. 

Ascent Could Be a Good Option for You If:

  • You want repayment options that fit your budget while in school. 
  • You want the flexibility of starting the loan with a co-signer but plan to release the co-signer in 24 months. 
  • You want the power to set the length of your loan and monthly payment. 

At CollegeFinance.com, we want to help you get the most out of your college education. With the right information, you can make the most informed decisions to build a promising future and get the most out of your investment in your education. We believe in helping students and families understand how to fund higher education, which is why we offer resources to help you plan, borrow, and repay your student loans.