Ascent Private Student Loans Review
Ascent in a Nutshell
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If you’re looking for a student loans provider that can help give you financial independence, Ascent may be the way to go. We were impressed with the company’s offerings, which, although slightly more narrow than other providers, are great for students looking to pay their way through school.
The company’s two different loans—with a co-signer or without one—are designed to cover up to the full cost of attendance for an academic year. With a great range of interest rates available, and some really useful discounts and bonuses, our Ascent review showed us a terrific alternative for students looking for independence and financial flexibility.
Although it’s a more recent entrant into the student loans market, Ascent has quickly made a name for itself as a top contender. The company is owned by Goal Structured Solutions (GS2) and Richland State Bank and operated fully online, though it is based in San Diego, California. They are available across the US, though it does have a list of eligible institutions to which it allows student loans.
One of the company’s major tenets is education, and they require all borrowers in its independent loan track to complete a financial literacy course prior to being approved.
Additionally, Ascent offers useful tips and advice on its website, as well as a handy blog that has interesting articles and valuable financial strategies.
The company’s loans are originated by Richland State Bank and are serviced University Accounting Service, which handles all payment processing, statement deliveries, and general account guidance for borrowers. All told, they manage over $26 billion in student loans for its clients.
Why Get a Loan from Ascent?
When we were searching for our Ascent student loans review, we came across the fact that even if you’re applying on your own, you won’t be penalized heavily if you don’t have a credit score yet or are still working on building it up. Instead, they use their own blend of eligibility criteria, which measure different aspects of your creditworthiness, future earning potential, existing financial, aid, cost of attendance, and more. Even better, the company is happy to discount their rates, reward graduation, and commitment, and even give you cash rewards when you refer others for student loans.
Finally, Ascent is great about working with its borrowers, even in tough times. You can choose how you want to pay while you’re in school (full payments, interest, or a flat rate), or wait until 6 months after you’ve graduated or finished your studies to start paying. If you find yourself in tough times, financially, They also give you forbearance and other alternatives to help you pay down your debt responsibly.
What Student Loans does Ascent Offer?
One thing that stood out to us in our Ascent loans review is how streamlined the company’s loan options are. Although they’re applicable for both undergrads and graduate students, the company offers two loans
- Cosigned: These loans are the standard student loans that compare with most competitors. You can apply for these loans at any point in your education, and your co-signer’s creditworthiness will be important in determining your rates.
- Ascent Cosigned Credit-Tested Loan lets you choose between variable and fixed rates, and gives you a deferred payment track. You can also reward your co-signer with a release after 24 months of on-time payments. It also offers payment terms of 5, 10, or 15 years, and no early repayment penalty. Fixed rates only have 5- or 10-year terms.
- Independent ( non cosigned): If you don’t have or want a co-signer, you can opt for an independent loan, though this only applies to juniors, seniors, and graduate students. These loans check your credit scores, but base eligibility on a broad variety of factors.
- Ascent Non-Cosigned Credit-Based loan lets you apply without a cosigner and cover up to 100% of your tuition and eligible living expenses, and still gives you fixed or variable rate options. It features slightly higher rates and limits your repayment options to 10 or 15 years.
- Ascent Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loan lets you apply without a cosigner and is based on your major, school, GPA and future predicted income. It also has repayment options of 10 or 15 years.
In both cases, you can apply for a minimum of $1,000, and a maximum aggregate of $200,000. It’s worth noting that their loans only cover up to one academic year, so you’ll have to reapply each year to ensure you’re still covered.;
Ascent Rates, Terms, and Fees for February 2020
|Cosigned||Non - Cosigned|
|Variable Rates:||3.16% - 11.90%*||3.16% - 11.90%*|
|Fixed Rates:||4.21% - 13.16%*||4.21% - 13.16%*|
|Discount on Interest Rate:||0.25% for automatic payment||0.25% - 2.00% automatic payment|
|Graduation Reward:||1% Cash Back Graduation Reward||1% Cash Back Graduation Reward|
|Repayment Terms:||5, 10, or 15 years||5 or 10 years (start payment six months after leaving school)|
|Loan Amount:||$2000 - $200,000|
$1000 - $200,000
$200,000 for credit tested loans
$20,000 for non-credit tested loans
|Grace Period:||6 months||6 months|
|Fees:||Late Fee 5%||Late Fee 5%|
|Forbearance:||up to 24 months||up to 24 months|
|Co-signer release||Yes. after 24 on-time payment||Yes. after 24 on-time payment|
|Products:||Graduates / Undergraduates||Graduates / Undergraduates|
*Rates are for February 2020 including the 0.25% - 2.00% auto-pay discount
You can choose from one of three repayment options while in school when you take an Ascent student loan.
Their repayment options include:
- Interest-only payments - To avoid having your principal grow (due to capitalization) once you graduate, you can start to pay off your monthly interest while you’re in school.
- Fixed payments - If you want to start making a dent in your overall repayments, you can sign up to make monthly $25 payments to chip away at your principal.
- Deferred payment - If you can’t afford to start making payments right away, you can defer your repayment until your grace period ends. Your loan will still accrue interest, and you have a maximum deferment term of 60 months.
Student Loan Refinancing With Ascent
Although refinancing is incredibly useful for paying your loans once you’ve graduated, we were a little disappointed to see that Ascent does not offer any form of refinancing or consolidation options for its borrowers.
Soft Credit Check
You can be worry-free when you sign up for a private student loan with Ascent because they don’t penalize based on poor credit scores or low transaction numbers.
Unlike most loan service providers which conduct a hard credit pull before offering loans, they only require a soft credit check to begin comparing offers from applicable lenders.
They’ll also collect details about your education to determine the prospective terms and rates of the student loan as.
Bright Futures Engine
The Bright Futures TM Engine is an advanced technique that encourages students to understand how their choice of school and major can impact future career prospects. It does so by evaluating the total educational costs based on your anticipated future earnings.
Ascent Bright Futures grades colleges across the country so that students can get a clear picture of their potential ROI on the basis of the cost of attendance at a particular school or for a certain major.
Transparency is the main attraction focused on helping students make better decisions about their higher education by comparing academic fees with expected earnings.
You can compare the costs and possible earnings based on whether you are a high school student, college student, or supportive parent before starting the process of applying through Ascent.
One of the things that really makes them stand out is its approach to help customers. The company partners with several financial tech companies that offer services to help students manage their finances and develop financial responsibility. Additionally, they offer a blog and an informative FAQ.
If you need to contact the company, you can contact them via telephone Monday through Friday between 6 am and 6 pm (PST) or leave them a support ticket.
Ascent Pros and Cons;
- Get a 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward when you graduate from your chosen degree
- Apply for a loan even if you don’t have credit scores thanks to Non-Cosigned Credit-Based and Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loans
- Get a 0.25% - 2.00% discount on your interest rate when you sign up for auto-pay
- Earn up to $525 in cash rewards when you refer friends to Ascent
- Choose the payment plan that’s right for you from full payments, interest-only and $25 monthly
- Learn about managing your money with the company’s financial literacy course
- Reduce the stress of financial hardship with forbearance options that help you deal with debt
- There are no specialized options for different educational tracks, making it harder on some career paths
- The maximum amount is slightly lower than some competitors on the market
- Non-cosigned loans are only available to juniors, seniors, and graduates.
How to Apply for an Ascent Student Loan
To start your application, you simply need to visit Ascent’s website and begin by filling out the forms requested. The company does have some basic eligibility requirements you should keep when applying:
- You (or your cosigner) must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident
- You must be a half time student (for cosigned loans) or a full-time student (for non-cosigned)
- Independent borrowers need a GPA of at least 2.5
- You must have a credit score above 540, in cases where a cosigner has a credit score of 740 or higher, otherwise, you must have a credit score of 600
- A minimum 680 FICO score if you’re applying independently
- The cosigner must have a minimum gross annual income of $24,000 for cosigner loans (not required for non-cosigned, but it can help your case)
- Once you complete your initial application, an Ascent agent will work with you to finish providing all the relevant documentation and complete your credit check.
If you’re looking to strike out on your own, or simply can’t find a reliable cosigner, Ascent may be the choice for you. The company is happy to work with students looking for independence and financial freedom and is accommodating even if you’re only recently able to support yourself.
With great rewards and incentives, as well as a friendly repayment structure, our Ascent loans review found that the company is all about flexibility. From their payment options, while you’re in school to their friendly deferment and forbearance policies, you can rest easy knowing you’ll be able to responsibly pay your debt, and still get the most out of your academic career.