Ascent is an online student loan lender that offers alternative student loans to pay for school. They offer both a traditional student loan that requires a cosigner, but they also offer a loan for independent students who qualify that does not require a cosigner.
Given that 90% of private student loans require a cosigner, seeing a company offer an option to not have a cosigner is great.
Let's dive into Ascent student loans and see how they compare. Remember to check out our full comparison of the best private student loan lenders here.
- Private student loans both with and without a cosigner
- Deferred repayment options while in school
- Interest rate discounts and cash back rewards for meeting certain criteria
Who Is Ascent Student Loans?
Ascent’s mission statement is, “Student loans should expand your possibilities, not limit them.” Their loans are based on creditworthiness, school, major, cost of attendance, and other factors. The parent company is Goal Structured Solutions, Inc. (GS2), who has been in the student loan business for over a decade.
Ascent Funding, LLC. was launched in 2017 and is located in San Diego, CA. Student loans are funded through Richland State Bank (RSB), Member FDIC. Loans are serviced by University Accounting Service, LLC (uasecho.com).
How Does It Work?
Ascent is a private student loan lender. They have two types of loans. One is oriented toward a co-signer, and the other is not.
Ascent Tuition is best for students who have a co-signer. These students may not yet have a credit history or do not meet the creditworthiness requirements. The co-signer must remain for 24 months. Students also must be enrolled in an eligible institution at least half-time.
For this loan, the co-signer must have a FICO score of 550 or over.
Ascent Independent doesn’t require a co-signer. This loan is for students who are nearing graduation or are in a graduate program. Approval is based on the following:
- Earning potential
- Academic progress
- Graduation date
- Cost of attendance
- Other factors and other qualifications
The minimum FICO score for an Ascent Independent loan is 680.
Ascent takes the above data and runs it through their algorithms, which then customizes the loan terms for each student. Ken Ruggiero, CEO of GS2, spoke with Forbes and described the process: “Ascent Tuition requires a creditworthy co-signer, while the Ascent Independent product is a non-cosigned loan open to junior, senior and graduate-level students only. Both loans require participation in a financial education module during the application process as we strongly believe in supporting financial wellness alongside our applicants’ collegiate dreams.”
Ruggiero continued, “For students applying for the Ascent Independent Loan, data from a student’s school, program, degree, and income potential are used to determine a loan amount. Using public and proprietary data to produce estimates per school and degree, the Ascent Independent loan allows students to eliminate the borrowing burden from their parents or ‘co-signer exhaustion.’”
How Are Interest Rates Calculated?
Interest rates for the Ascent Tuition loan are determined based on loan terms, whether the interest rate is fixed or variable, and the type of payment arrangement. Variable rate, interest-only payment, five-year loans start at 4.06%. For the same loan under the 15-year plan, the rate is 13.06%.
For the fixed rate, interest-only payment, five-year loan, the interest rate is 5.66%. The highest rate is the 10-year fixed, interest-only repayment with a 14.73% interest rate.
The variable interest rate can change, of course. This is dependent on the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) index. The variable interest rate has a base of 4.00% to 12.50% plus LIBOR. If LIBOR is 2.306%, the APR will range from 5.72% to 13.01%.
Loan amounts range from $2,000 to $200,000 with Ascent Tuition terms of 5, 10, and 15 years. Ascent Independent has terms of 10 and 15 years.
Is Deferment an Option?
Yes, as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time. This option is called “Deferred Repayment” and allows postponement of up to 60 months on payments. Interest will continue to accrue during deferment. This type of deferment is called “In-School.”
For students who need a deferment after In-School, approval is solely up to the lender. These types of deferments may be granted for according to the Ascent website:
- “Active Duty Military Deferment”
- “In-School Deferment”
- “Residency / Internship Deferment”
- “Temporary Hardship Forbearance”
- “Administrative Forbearance”
Is It a Good Deal?
Ascent student loan APRs are competitive and reasonable. Applicants with the best creditworthiness should see loan interest rates in the mid-single digits. Interest rates can be further reduced by signing up for debit automatic payments.
Graduating with a load of debt isn’t the best way to start your career. As new grads are getting their first few checks from a new job, student loan payments arrive just in time to snag any money that might be left over at the end of the month. Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, a financial advisor, said the following to CNBC: “You should never take out more student loan debt then [sic] you believe will be your first year's salary.”
As the cost of tuition continues to climb, students are turning to alternative, affordable methods for financing their education. Ascent Student Loans is one such method. With two different loans options, reasonable APRs, and a 0.25% automatic payment discount, they provide a compelling source of funding for college education.