Ascent Student Loans Review

Ascent offers unique loan options for students with or without a co-signer

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Ascent

Ascent

Investopedia’s Rating
4.6

Our Take

Ascent provides unique private student loan options for undergraduates, graduates, and professionals, with a wide range of borrower relief options. Ascent offers both co-signed and non-co-signed loans, as well as outcomes-based loans that consider your future earnings, making it easier for students to qualify without a co-signer.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No application or origination fees

  • Can qualify for a loan based on future earnings potential

  • Autopay discounts up to 1%

Cons
  • Higher rates for non-co-signed loans

  • No co-signer release available for international students

  • Only junior and senior students are eligible for outcomes-based loans

Key Takeaways
  • Ascent offers co-signed and non-co-signed loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Ascent also offers consumer loans to pay for professional bootcamps and continuing education classes.
  • Student loans are available up to $200,000 for undergraduate students and $400,000 for graduate students.
Company Overview

Ascent is a student loan company that offers private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students (with or without co-signers). Ascent was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in San Diego, California. 

A fairly unique offer here is the ability for junior and senior students to qualify without a co-signer or a strong credit profile. Qualifications for Ascent’s “outcomes-based” loans are evaluated on future potential earnings, as well as how the student is performing in school. 

Ascent offers academic deferment while students are enrolled at least half-time in school, as well as other deferment and forbearance options for students in repayment. Ascent is available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

  • Year Founded 2016
  • Official Website https://www.ascentfunding.com/
  • Loans Offered Undergraduate, Graduate, Professional, International, DACA
  • Customer Service Email. Live Chat. Phone: (877) 216-0876

Ascent Student Loans: Quick Look

Loan Type Variable APR  Fixed APR 
Co-signed loan 5.31%–13.57% 4.62%–14.68%
Non-co-signed credit-based loan  9.05%–15.32%  9.83%–16.43% 
Non-co-signed outcomes-based loan  11.91%–13.87%  12.78%–14.01% 
Graduate loan (varies by program)  6.31%–15.32%  5.62%–16.43% 

Pros Explained

  • No application or origination fees: Ascent charges no fees on loan applications or approval, and there are no prepayment penalties either.
  • Can qualify for a loan based on future earnings potential: Ascent offers an outcomes-based loan option for juniors, seniors, and grad students based on future earnings potential and school performance.
  • Autopay discount up to 1%: Standard loans offer a 0.25% autopay discount, and outcomes-based loans offer a 1% autopay discount, which is one of the highest discounts in the market.

Cons Explained

  • Higher rates for non-co-signed loans: Ascent doesn’t have the best interest rates for borrowers without a co-signer, especially for the outcomes-based loans.
  • No co-signer release available for international students: International students don’t have the option to release the co-signer from the loan.
  • Only junior and senior students are eligible for outcomes-based loans: Outcomes-based loans are not available to freshman and sophomore undergrad students, so they will need a co-signed loan or have a strong credit profile and income to qualify.

Student Loans Offered by Ascent

Co-Signed Student Loans

Ascent offers co-signed undergraduate and graduate student loans to half-time or full-time enrolled students.

The loans come with flexible borrowing terms, including 5 to 15-year term lengths (20-year terms available on select graduate programs) and a nine-month grace period. Co-signers for international student loans cannot be released from the loan.

Terms for Co-Signed Loans
Variable APR  5.31%–13.57%
Fixed APR  4.62%–14.68% 
Loan amounts  $2,001–$200,000 (aggregate) 
Loan terms  5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years 

Credit-Based Student Loans

The credit-based (non-co-signed) undergraduate and graduate student loans are available to half-time or full-time enrolled students.

The rates here are higher than some competitors, even if you have decent income and a great credit profile. 

Terms for Credit-Based Loans
Variable APR  9.05%–15.32%
Fixed APR  9.83%–16.34% 
Loan amounts  $2,001–$200,000 (aggregate) 
Loan terms  5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years 

Outcomes-Based Student Loans

Ascent offers a unique outcomes-based student loan program, available to full-time junior and senior students in qualified programs. The minimum and maximum borrow amounts are much smaller than the other loan options, however.

The interest rates are high, but this may be a good option for students without a co-signer. Outcomes-based loans are ideal for borrowers without established credit who want to qualify based on alternate factors, such as their school, program, GPA, and academic performance.

Terms for Outcomes-Based Loans
Variable APR  11.91%–13.87% 
Fixed APR  12.73%–14.01% 
Loan amounts  $2,001–$20,000 (aggregate) 
Loan terms  5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years 

Loan Eligibility and Approval

To qualify for a student loan with Ascent, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Live in the District of Columbia or the United States (all 50 states are supported)
  • Be enrolled at least half-time (full-time for outcomes-based loans)
  • Be a U.S. resident, have DACA status, or have a qualifying visa
  • Be pursuing a bachelor’s or graduate-level degree
  • Be enrolled in an Ascent-approved institution

There are also personal financial requirements considered as part of the application process:

  • Minimum FICO score (varies)
  • At least two years of credit history
  • Income of at least $24,000 in the current and previous year
  • Monthly debt-to-income ratio (DTI) (varies)

Ascent's outcomes-based loans don’t require income or credit history, but review alternate factors, including:

  • School
  • Program
  • Graduation date
  • Major
  • GPA
  • Cost of attendance
  • Academic performance
  • Other factors

To qualify for an outcomes-based loan, you must:

  • Be a college junior or senior enrolled full-time at an eligible institution
  • Be a U.S. citizen or have a U.S. permanent resident or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status
  • Maintain a 2.9 GPA or higher
  • Be at least 18 years old (or age of majority) in your state of residence

Are Co-Signers Required?

Co-signers are only required for students who are not permanent U.S. residents, or who don’t meet the qualifications for credit-based or outcomes-based loans. DACA recipients can qualify for a loan without a co-signer.

Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?

Ascent lets you check your rates and get pre-approved without impacting your credit score. You will need to provide a few personal details, including your full name, address, school information, and credit score.

You may also need to provide income and debt details, depending on the loan you are applying for. Once submitted, you will get an instant decision on pre-approval.

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

After the application is submitted online, Ascent will show if you are pre-approved instantly. If approved, you will then select your loan details and complete your application (which includes uploading documentation and completing a financial wellness course). Review and final approval take one to two business days on average.

Ascent will then contact your school for certification, which can vary by school. Some schools don’t certify until within a few weeks of classes starting, but others complete the processes within a fixed time frame. It is recommended to apply early to avoid late payments to your school.

Loan Fees and Repayment Options

Loan Fees

Ascent does not charge origination, early payment, or extra payment fees. Ascent does charge late payment fees of 5% of the total payment or $10, whichever is less. There is also a flat $15 fee for returned payments.

Loan Discounts

Ascent offers a 0.25% discount for setting up autopay on co-signed or credit-based loans. There is a 1% autopay discount available on outcomes-based loans. These discounts are reflected in the advertised rates.

Repayment Options

Ascent has several repayment options, depending on the loan selected and borrower qualifications.

  • Deferred repayment: Students can defer payments until nine months after graduation (12 months for dental students). Interest will accrue during deferments, but no payments will be due while in school and during the grace period. Interest is capitalized once repayment begins.
  • Fixed payment: Ascent offers a low fixed payment option of $25/month while in school and during the grace period. This helps lower the amount of interest that accrues during school.
  • Interest-only payments: Students can pay just the interest on the loan while enrolled in school and during the grace period, which keeps the loan amount from growing during school.
  • Residency deferment: If you are accepted into a residency, internship, clerkship, or fellowship program, you can elect to defer payments on your loans during the program. The maximum deferment is 48 months. Interest will still accrue during deferment. 
  • Military deferment: Military and National Coast Guard members are eligible for deferment during active duty for up to 36 months (cumulative). Interest will still accrue during deferment.

Ascent offers a nine-month grace period for graduates, 12 months for graduates from dental school, and up to 36 months for graduates of medical school. 

Rewards

Ascent offers several rewards to student borrowers.

  • Cash-back bonus: Ascent provides a 1% cash-back bonus upon graduation in the form of a direct deposit. Students who graduate with the degree that was used on the loan application and who are enrolled in automatic payments are eligible. Loans may not have been refinanced or consolidated to earn this reward.
  • Student referral: Ascent will pay up to $525 for funded loan referrals, and the person signing up will receive a $100 reward as well.
  • $10,000 career giveaway: Students can enter this giveaway by submitting a 30- to 90-second video on how they would use the winnings to pursue their dreams.

Loan Forbearance and Discharge Options

Ascent offers several loan relief programs for borrowers in financial hardship:

  • Forbearance: Borrowers can apply for forbearance due to financial or administrative hardships, including job loss, bankruptcy, death of a loved one, or other reasons. Forbearance is available for up to three months, and applicants can apply for up to four consecutive forbearance periods in a calendar year. The total forbearance allowance over the life of the loan is 24 months. Interest will still accrue during forbearance. 
  • Natural disaster/declared emergency forbearance: Ascent offers a three-month forbearance for government-declared emergencies and natural disasters or military mobilization. Interest will accrue and capitalize at the end of the forbearance term.
  • Loan forgiveness and discharge: In the event of the borrower’s death or total and permanent disability, Ascent will discharge the remaining student loan balance.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

No, Ascent does not offer student loan refinancing.

Customer Service

Ascent offers a decent library of help documentation on its website, and support via an automated chatbot as well. You can also send an email or call the lender directly at (877) 216-0876 to speak with a dedicated Ascent representative, from Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time, and Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. 

Launch Servicing is the servicer of Ascent’s loans, and it’s available Monday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time. You can email customerservice@launchservicing.com, call (877) 354-2629, or visit the website at launchservicing.com.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) did not include Ascent, nor its funding bank (Bank of Lake Mills) or Launch Servicing in its annual consumer report.

Applying for an Ascent Student Loan

Students and/or co-signers can apply for a student loan online. This includes submitting your personal and financial information for pre-approval, then completing the full application for final approval and funding. Ascent also considers your earnings potential and academic achievements for its outcomes-based loans.

Some of the information you will need to provide includes:

  • Social Security number
  • School information
  • Employment information (including income)
  • Recent tax returns
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Debt information

Ascent requires that applicants complete a financial wellness course prior to approval. Once your application is complete and documents are uploaded, it will be manually reviewed (which typically takes one to two business days). Once your loan is approved, Ascent will request certification from your school before disbursing the loan.

We recommend completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before applying for a private student loan, as you may qualify for grants or federal loans with more favorable terms.

Alternative Choices

  Ascent Juno  Citizens Bank 
Loan types Offered Undergraduate; graduate Undergraduate; graduate; parent Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional; medical; bar study
Undergraduate fixed APR  4.62%–14.68%  Starting at 3.24%  4.99%–13.47% 
Undergraduate variable APR  5.31%–13.57%  Starting at 0.94%  4.59%–13.47% 
Origination/administrative fee  None  None  None 
Repayment options  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; interest-only; full payment 
Refinancing available  No  Yes  Yes 

Final Verdict

Ascent offers flexible loan terms, along with the opportunity to apply without a co-signer or credit history and still have a decent shot of approval. Its unique outcomes-based loans offer up to $20,000 in funding to junior and senior students who are hoping to qualify on their own merits. Ascent does charge higher rates than other lenders, however, especially for the credit-based and outcomes-based loans. There are also no refinancing options available. 

Overall, Ascent is a good option for borrowers with no credit history, or international students who want to qualify without a co-signer. Just expect to pay higher rates.

Ascent is worth checking out, but there are many other student loan lenders out there. Skip the search and take a look at our picks for the best student loans online.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 01/01/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.  

Article Sources
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