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The majority of people who take out private student loans need a cosigner to qualify. It’s rare to find a lender that doesn’t require a cosigner.
Ascent is a different kind of private lender. They offer two private loan options: cosigned student loans and non-cosigned student loans.
What else do you need to know about Ascent? Let’s take a look.
What is Ascent?
All of the loans offered by Ascent are made by Richland State Bank. University Account Service (UAS) handles loan servicing for Ascent. For any loan created after May 17, 2019, Launch Servicing handles loan servicing.
Ascent Student Loans
As mentioned, Ascent has two private loan options for borrowers. Ascent Tuition is a private loan for people applying with a cosigner. Ascent Independent is a private loan more suited for people with no cosigner or who have no credit or income. Each option has its own rates and terms. Both Ascent student loans have different qualifications.
Ascent student loans are only available for eligible institutions. To find out if your school is eligible, you can email Ascend at email@example.com. You must also be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for a loan. A student must be a U.S.citizen or permanent resident to qualify for an Ascent student loan. The exception to this rule is if you have a cosigner that is a U.S.citizen or permanent resident. Borrowers must provide documentation to verify citizenship.
Ascent Tuition loans are cosigned private loans. A cosigner is required for this specific loan. Having a cosigner with excellent credit can help you secure better interest rates. When someone cosigns on a student loan, they make themselves financially liable for your student loan debt if you can’t make your payments. This is normally someone you have an established relationship with, like a parent, grandparent or family friend.
There is a cosigner release available after making 24 consecutive, regularly scheduled, on-time loan payments (principal and interest). You must also meet all of the requirements of a loan without a cosigner.
Ascent Tuition loans have competitive interest rates.
- Fixed rates range from 3.97% to 12.93% APR (automatic payment discount included).
- Variable rates are between 3.63% and 12.90% (automatic payment discount included).
Repayment Options for Ascent Tuition Loans
There are three repayment options available for Ascent Tuition loans:
- Deferred Repayment: With deferred payments, borrowers pay nothing while at school. They will start payments 6 months after leaving school. Your total loan cost is the highest with this repayment option. During deferment, interest still accrues on your loans.
- $25 Minimum Payment: Another option is to pay a $25 monthly payment. You must be enrolled at least half-time.
- In-School Interest-Only Repayment: You pay only interest payments while enrolled at least half-time in school with this option. This will save you money in the long run because you won’t have all this added interest on your loan total.
The minimum loan amount you can receive through Ascent is $2,000 and the maximum is $200,000.
Terms for cosigned loans through Ascent are 5, 10 or 15 years for variable-rate loans. For fixed-rate loans, terms are only 5 or 10 years.
Requirements for Ascent Tuition Student Loans
All applicants, regardless of what loan type, need to meet the following requirements to qualify for a private student loan through Ascent:
- Never defaulted on any student loan
- No bankruptcy within the past five years
- No unsatisfied repossessions, judgments, tax liens, foreclosures or garnishments by creditors
- No settled or unpaid non-medical charge-offs or collection accounts that exceed $100 in total
- No settled or unpaid medical charge-offs or collection accounts that exceed $500 in total
- Have a FICO score of 600 or above
On top of borrower requirements, your cosigner must almost meet certain criteria:
- Have a FICO score of 660 or above
- Have a minimum of two years of credit history outside of student loans
- No delinquencies of 60 days or more during the past 24 months
- Have a gross income of at least $24,000 (must submit proof of income)
For borrowers with less than two years of credit history, there is no minimum income requirement.
Ascent’s other student loan option is called Ascent Independent. It is a non-cosigned student loan. This isn’t typical of private lenders to offer, but Ascent isn’t the typical lender. This is one of the few options available to borrowers with no credit or income.
- Fixed rates for Ascent Independent loans are 3.97%-12.93% (automatic payment discount included).
- Variable rates range between 3.63%-12.90% (automatic payment discount included).
Repayment Options with Ascent Independent
Non-cosigned loans only have one repayment option: Deferred repayment. Payments start 6 months after leaving school.
The minimum loan amount for an Ascent non-cosigned loan is $2,000. The maximum loan amount is $200,000. The maximum for an academic year is $200,000 for credit tested loans and $20,000 for non-credit tested loans.
Terms for non-cosigned loans are 5 or 10 years for variable rate loans and 10 years for fixed-rate loans.
Requirements for Ascent Independent Student Loans
Ascent Independent loans have all of the same requirements as their cosigned loans. On top of that, there are other requirements borrowers need to meet to qualify for a loan:
- Borrowers with more than two years of credit history must have a FICO score over 680.
- Borrowers with less than 2 years credit history must still meet credit requirements listed earlier
- Regardless of credit history, you must have no delinquencies of 60 days or more during the past 24 months
Ascent looks at other factors when approving borrowers for loans. This includes but isn’t limited to your school and degree program, expected graduation date, and cost of attendance.
Ascent Application Process
Ascent has a simple, 4-step process when applying for a private student loan:
- First, you need to submit an application online. Be sure to have any personal, financial, and school information on hand when filling out your application.
- Second, if you receive a preliminary decision, you can choose a repayment plan.
- Next, you will upload required documents into the Ascent Portal for review and complete other tasks.
- The last step is getting school certification for your loan. Ascent sends your loan info to your school during this step. You can contact your school if you’re unsure how long their certification process lasts. If your loan is certified, you’ll receive your final disclosure and disbursement dates.
Deferment and Forbearance Through Ascent
Ascent does offer some deferment and forbearance options to borrowers. Here are the types of deferment and forbearance they offer:
- Active Duty Military Deferment
- In-School Deferment
- Residency / Internship Deferment
- Temporary Hardship Forbearance
- Administrative Forbearance
If you are seeking deferment or forbearance, you can either submit a written request to Ascent or complete and sign a deferment form. You’ll need to provide any requested documentation to be approved.
Here are some other notes regarding deferment and forbearance:
- Approval is at the discretion of Ascent
- Interest will still accrue during deferment
- Deferment and forbearance will extend your original repayment terms
- Any unpaid interest is capitalized at the end of deferment
It’s best to avoid using deferment or forbearance if possible. It’s nice to know there are options, though, if you find yourself in a hardship with little or no options.
Borrowers can request a cosigner release after 24 consecutive on-time, scheduled principal and interest payments. You must also meet the other requirements set forth by Ascent concerning qualifying for a loan without a cosigner.
Borrowers can contact Ascent directly if they’re interested in a cosigner release,
Pros & Cons of Ascent Student Loan
It’s rare to find a private lender willing to award loans to people without established credit or a cosigner. That fact helps Ascent stand out from the crowd. There are other aspects of Ascent’s loans that borrowers love. Some things that could be changed for the better.
Here are the pros & cons of Ascent student loans:
- No application fees
- No prepayment penalties
- 25% interest rate reduction for enrolling in automatic payments
- 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward (cosigned loans only)
- There’s no prequalification so borrowers check interest rates. You won’t see your rates until applying for a loan and Ascent performing a hard credit pull, which could affect your credit score.
Final Thoughts on Ascent Student Loans
While it’s rare to qualify for a private student loan without a cosigner or with bad or no credit, that doesn’t mean it’s a good loan to have. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to check interest rates before applying for a loan through Ascent. It would be nice to know what kind of rate you qualify for so you could compare it to other private lenders.
Most likely, you can earn the lowest rates by either having excellent credit or applying with a cosigner with excellent credit. If you don’t have those options, Ascent provides a way for you to still receive financial aid to attend college.