Ascent Student Loan Review
Private student loans almost always need a co-signer because most students have short credit histories and low incomes. It’d be rare for a lender to waive this requirement.
But Ascent is a rare kind of private lender. It offers three private loans, and two of them do not require a co-signer.
What else do you need to know about Ascent? Let’s take a look.
Ascent Student Loans
Each of Ascent’s three private student loans brings something different to the table:
- Co-signed Credit-Based Loan: This private loan for people applying with a co-signer allows more flexible repayment options than most private student loans.
- Non-Co-signed Future Income-Based Loan: This private loan for college juniors, seniors, and grad students considers your potential future earnings as a basis for underwriting; you can avoid getting a co-signer.
- Non-Co-signed Credit-Based Loan: If you’re a student who already has a two-year credit history, you may be able to borrow without a co-signer based on your current credit.
Each option has its own limits, terms, and conditions. So let’s look more closely at each loan type, starting with Ascent’s co-signed loan.
Ascent’s Cosigned Credit-Based Loan
You will need a co-signer to get this loan, and a co-signer with excellent credit can help you score better interest rates.
Your student loan co-signer would have to pay off your debt if you didn’t make your payments. Normally, you’d choose a parent, grandparent, or family friend — someone you have an established relationship with — as your co-signer.
Ascent can release your co-signer from responsibility after you make 24 consecutive, regularly scheduled, and on-time loan payments — both principal and interest. Partial or graduated payments won’t count toward your 24 payments in a row.
To release your co-signer, you must also meet all of the requirements of a student loan without a co-signer.
For a private loan, Ascent’s co-signed credit-based loan has a lot of flexibility when you repay:
- Deferred Repayment: With deferred repayments, borrowers pay nothing while enrolled at least half-time in school. Payments start six months after leaving school. Your total loan cost will be the highest with this repayment option because interest still accrues on your loans during deferment.
- $25 Minimum Payment: Another option is to pay a $25 monthly payment while enrolled at least half-time in school. You’ll get into the habit of making payments and put at least a small dent in your balance.
- In-School Interest-Only Repayment: You can pay only interest payments while enrolled at least half-time in school with this option. This will save money by keeping interest from piling up while you’re not paying down the principal.
You could borrow as little as $2,001 with a $200,000 max for all your loans. Loan terms will be 5, 10, or 15 years for variable-rate loans and 5 or 10 years for fixed rate loans.
Requirements for Eligibility
All applicants, regardless of loan type, must meet the following requirements to qualify for a private student loan through Ascent:
- No defaults on any previous student loans.
- 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 at least 540 but preferably 600.
Your co-signer must also meet certain criteria:
- Have a FICO score of 660 or above if the student’s score is at least 600. (If the student’s score is 540 to 599, the co-signer will need a FICO score of 740 to compensate.)
- Have a minimum of two years of credit history (not counting 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).
Ascent’s Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loans
If you’re a college junior or senior, or if you’re in grad school, you can avoid asking a friend or family member to co-sign on your next student loan. Instead, you can apply for Ascent’s Non-Co-signed Future Income-Based Loan.
Most private lenders do not offer this kind of student loan, but Ascent isn’t a typical lender. Ascent’s underwriters will consider your future earnings potential — based on your school, your major, and your GPA (must be 2.5) — instead of relying entirely on your current credit picture.
- Fixed rates range from 5.45 percent to 14.50 percent.
- Variable rates range between 3.86 percent and 12.94 percent.
For this loan, these rates reflect a 2-percent discount Ascent gives when you sign up for auto payments.
Non-co-signed loans only have one repayment option: Deferred repayment while you’re enrolled at least half-time in school. Payments begin six months after you leave school.
You can borrow only $20,000 per academic year with this program. Fixed-rate loans will have 10-year payoff terms. With a variable rate you could choose a 15- or a 10-year term.
Requirements to Qualify
As with a co-signed loan, you won’t qualify for a non-co-signed future income-based loan if you’ve defaulted on a student loan before, gone bankrupt in the past five years, or face tax liens or foreclosures. (You can see the full list of criteria above.)
Along with those minimum requirements, you’ll also need:
- A FICO score of 680 if you have more than two years of credit history.
- To meet Ascent’s requirements for a co-signed loan if you don’t have two years of credit history.
- To have no payment delinquencies of 60 days or more during the past 24 months.
Ascent’s Non-Co-signed Credit-Based Loan
Students who can stand on their own credit right now can get Ascent’s Non-Co-signed Credit-Based Loan. You won’t need a co-signer, and your future earnings potential won’t factor into the underwriting process either.
You could borrow up to $200,000 from Ascent during your academic career with a $2,001 minimum on non-consigned credit-based loans.
Rates for these loans fall within the same range as Ascent’s co-signed or future-based loans:
- Fixed rates range from 3.58 percent to 14.50 percent.
- Variable rates range between 3.86 percent and 12.94 percent.
If you don’t want auto payments, your rate will be 0.25 percent higher.
You can choose 10- or 15-year terms for a variable rate loan but fixed rate loans require a 10-year term.
Along with an in-school deferment, Ascent also offers graduated payments. Your payments would increase gradually — ideally along with your escalating earnings early in your career. But you’ll also pay more interest in the long run with graduated payments.
Requirements to Qualify
To qualify for a credit-based loan with no co-signer, you’ll need:
- At least two years of credit history.
- Minimum FICO score of 680.
- Annual income of $24,000.
Ascent Application Process
Ascent has a simple, 4-step process when applying for a private student loan:
- First, submit an application online. Be sure to have your personal, financial, and school information on hand.
- 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. You’ll see a list of tasks to complete.
- 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 its certification process lasts. If your loan is certified, you’ll receive your final disclosure and disbursement dates.
Deferment and Forbearance Through Ascent
Unlike so many private lenders, Ascent does offer deferment and forbearance. Here are the types of deferment and forbearance available:
- Active Duty Military Deferment
- In-School Deferment
- Residency / Internship Deferment
- Temporary Hardship Forbearance
- Administrative Forbearance
If you are seeking deferment or forbearance, you can submit a written request to Ascent or complete and sign a deferment form. You’ll need to provide the requested documentation, which may include tax forms, 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.
Avoid deferment or forbearance if possible, but it’s nice to know you have options if you find yourself in a tight spot.
How to Release Your Co-signer
Borrowers can request a co-signer release after 24 consecutive on-time, scheduled principal and interest payments. You must also meet the other requirements for Ascent loans without a co-signer.
Borrowers can contact Ascent directly if they’re interested in a co-signer release.
Who Services Ascent Student Loans?
Ascent’s loans are underwritten by Bank of Lake Mills.
University Account Service (UAS) services Ascent loans made prior to May 17, 2019. Newer loans use Launch Servicing.
Advantages of Ascent Student Loans
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 as well:
- No application fees, origination, or disbursement fees
- No prepayment penalties
- The interest rate reduction for auto payments — 0.25 percent to 2 percent depending on your loan.
- 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward (cosigned loans only)
Is Ascent Student Loans for You?
It’s rare to qualify for a private student loan without a co-signer or with bad or no credit, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically take out such a loan.
Unfortunately, you can’t check interest rates before applying for an Ascent student loan. 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 having excellent credit or applying with a co-signer who has excellent credit.
If you don’t have those options, Ascent provides a way for you to still receive financial aid to attend college.