Ascent Student Loan Review

Ascent student loan rates may be an option for borrowers without a co-signer

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Ascent Student Loans

Ascent primarily offers three types of student loan products for undergraduate and graduate students, along with variations for medical and dental school students. Ascent was created by personal finance company Goal Solutions Inc. and Richland State Bank. Goal Solutions has more than $26 billion in consumer assets under management and more than $200 million of its assets are invested in loan portfolios.

When it’s time for repayment, loans are serviced by Launch Servicing. Ascent student loans should appeal to undergraduate or graduate students who want to borrow for school without a co-signer and have a credit history and income. However, Ascent may also lend to you if you don’t have a credit score yet and want to borrow on your own as a college junior or senior who meets the income requirements, or want to apply with a co-signer and then release them in the future.

  • Fixed APR Range 3.53% to 14.50%
  • Variable APR Range 2.72% to 13.00%
  • Loan Types Credit-based loans for undergraduates and graduate students, and future-income-based loans for college juniors and seniors
  • Repayment Terms 5 to 20 years
  • Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Loan without a co-signer

  • Discounts and rewards

  • Graduated repayment plan available

  • Longer than average forbearance option

  • Co-signer release available

Cons
  • Higher APRs

  • Minimum income requirements for some borrowers

  • Longer repayment periods require variable interest rate loans

Pros of Ascent Loans

  • Loan without a co-signer: With many private lenders, co-signers aren’t required, but they are often recommended. Without one, students may have a difficult time qualifying for good rates and terms, or at all. With Ascent, full-time college juniors or seniors without a credit score can qualify for a loan based on their likely future earnings, which is an unusual offering. Other applicants can apply for loans without a co-signer based on their own creditworthiness and income. 
  • Discounts and rewards: While the 0.25% autopay rate discount for Ascent credit-based student loans is fairly standard, Ascent also offers a 2.00% autopay discount for its non-co-signed future-income-based student loans. A 1.00% cash-back graduation reward is also available for borrowers who meet certain criteria.
  • Graduated repayment plan: While a standard federal loan repayment option, not all private student lenders offer a graduated repayment option. You may qualify for this repayment plan if you submitted a loan on or after May 17, 2019, and have graduated or are no longer enrolled in school at least half-time. Interested students will need to contact the loan servicer, Launch Servicing.
  • Longer than average forbearance option: Ascent deferment and forbearance categories are plentiful—including up to 24 months of forbearance and nine months of deferment, which are longer than what other lenders offer, such as Sallie Mae (12 months forbearance) or College Ave (six months deferment after enrollment ends). 
  • Co-signer release available: While the 24-month required payment period isn’t anything special—and some lenders offer shorter release periods—some lenders also don’t allow you to release co-signers at all, or only after half of the repayment period has elapsed.

Cons of Ascent Loans

  • Higher APRs: If you (or your co-signer) have poor credit or are otherwise seen as a risk, know that Ascent’s annual percentage rate (APR) may be at the higher end of student loan lending. As well, those looking for a medical school loan will find higher rates than they’d find elsewhere, such as with Sallie Mae. 
  • Minimum income requirements for some borrowers: If you’re applying for a credit-based non-co-signed undergraduate or graduate student loan, you must meet credit history and income requirements. Co-signers will also need to meet income requirements.
  • Longer repayment periods require variable interest rate loans: If you need lower monthly payments and a longer repayment period of 15 years or more, Ascent requires you to take out a variable-rate student loan, which could leave you at the mercy of interest-rate swings.

What Does Ascent Offer?

Ascent offers student loans for both undergraduate and graduate students, with options to apply with both a co-signer and no co-signer. It offers student loans that are based on credit for both undergraduates and graduate students, as well as one that is based on the undergraduate student borrower’s future income. Ascent also offers specific graduate loans for MBA, medical, law, and dental students.

  • Credit-based co-signed and non-co-signed student loans
  • Non-co-signed future-income-based student loans
  • MBA, law school, and general graduate/Ph.D. student loans
  • Medical school student loans
  • Dental school student loans

Credit-Based Student Loan Rates & Terms

Ascent’s credit-based student loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as borrowers with and without co-signers. The only difference between undergraduate and graduate student loans are the rates and terms. 

Undergraduate Student Loans

Credit-Based Undergraduate Student Loan Rates & Terms

Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the school-certified cost of attendance up to $200,000 total, and a maximum of $200,000 per academic year
Fixed APR 3.53% to 14.50% (after autopay and rate discounts)
Variable APR 2.72% to 13.00% (after autopay and rate discounts)
Terms Available 5 to 15 years for co-signed loans (15 years for variable rate loans only), and 10- or 15-year terms for non-co-signed loans
Recommended Minimum Credit Score Not disclosed
Grace Period 9 months
Origination Fee None

This loan relies on your own credit or the credit of your co-signer. To qualify without a co-signer, students need to have more than two years of credit history, meet a minimum credit score, and a gross annual income of $24,000 or more for the current and previous year. 

Co-signers can help an undergraduate or graduate student qualify for the loan or amount needed and have the obligation to repay if they can’t. You can apply to release your co-signer from this responsibility after making 24 consecutive payments, meeting Ascent’s requirements for a student borrower, and choosing autopay. Repayment options also include starting after a nine-month grace period, paying interest only while in school, or making $25 minimum monthly payments.

Non-Co-Signed Future-Income-Based Undergraduate Loan Rates & Terms

Loan Amounts $1,000 up to a maximum of $200,000 total, but only up to $20,000 per academic year
Fixed APR 3.53% to 14.50% (after autopay and rate discounts)
Variable APR 2.72% to 13.00% (after autopay and rate discounts)
Terms Available 10 for fixed rate loans, or 15 years for variable rate loans
Recommended Minimum Credit Score Not disclosed
Grace Period 9 months
Origination Fee None

This loan type is for full-time undergraduate college juniors and seniors only and relies on your potential future income to help secure your loan. Undergraduates without a credit score or who can’t meet the income or repayment requirements upon application receive a loan amount that is based on a variety of factors, including: 

  • School, major, or program 
  • Graduation date
  • Cost of attendance
  • GPA of 2.9 or better 
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residence

If you want a fixed term, you can only choose a 10-year repayment term. Non-co-signed loans only have one repayment option of starting payments after a grace period of nine months after ending schooling—borrowers don’t have the option to pay interest-only or $25 monthly payments as with the co-signed credit-based loan. As well, you can only borrow $20,000 per year, while other student loan lenders may allow you to borrow up to 100% of your schooling. 

On the plus side, future-income-based loan borrowers can qualify for a 2.00% autopay rate discount, after signing up for automatic repayment.

Graduate Student Loans 

Graduate students can apply for credit-based loans with a co-signer or without a co-signer. Graduate loans mainly differ from the undergraduate credit-based loans in terms of rates, grace periods, and attendance periods, depending on your program. 

Loan Amounts Minimum of $1,000, up to the school-certified cost of attendance, with a $200,000 total for all years
Fixed APR 4.92% to 13.42% (after autopay and rate discounts)
Variable APR 3.93% to 12.43% (after autopay and rate discounts)
Terms Available 10 for fixed rate loans, or 15 years for variable rate loans
Recommended Minimum Credit Score Not disclosed
Grace Period 9 to 36 months, depending on your program
Origination Fee None

These loans come with the same terms, more or less, except for repayment terms, the maximum in-school attendance periods, and grace periods.

  Fixed Rate Repayment Term Variable Rate Repayment Terms Maximum In-School Attendance Period Grace Period
MBA, Law School, and General Graduate/Ph.D. Loans 10 years 10 or 15 years 36 months 9 months
Medical School Loans 10 years 10, 15, or 20 years 48 months 36 months
Dental School Loans 10 years 10, 15, or 20 years 48 months 12 months

Ascent MBA, Law School, and General Graduate/Ph.D. Rates & Terms

This loan for business, law, and other graduate students comes with a 36-month attendance period, which works well for students taking classes in the evening, on weekends, or in part-time programs. However, other than law school, the repayment terms max out at 10 years—the law school repayment period maxes out at 15. Some other lenders offer programs with up to 20 years for repayment. 

Ascent Medical School Loan Rates & Terms

This loan gives a maximum in-school period of 48 months, and future physicians can take up to 36 months after enrollment ends to start paying. Then they’ll have up to 20 years to pay off the loans. However, the interest rates for medical school are the same as the other graduate loans offered by Ascent, and they’re higher than you might find with other lenders.   

Ascent Dental School Rates & Terms

The maximum in-school period of 48 months factors in the time you’ll be taking dental courses. A longer 12-month grace period after graduation makes it easier to get your career started before paying back dental school loans, and being able to take up to 20 years for repayment means lower payments, even if you borrowed a hefty amount. The interest rates are also the same as the other graduate loans, which are still higher than other dental school student loans, such as those offered by Sallie Mae and Commonbond.

How to Get a Student Loan From Ascent

In addition to standard requirements, there are a few additional expectations for those looking to secure an Ascent student loan.

  • The application process includes a required online financial literacy course. 
  • Applicants must be 19 in Alabama and Nebraska (in some cases), and 21 in Mississippi and Puerto Rico. 
  • Any co-signer must hit the $24,000 income qualification for the current and previous year, and show proof of income.
  • If you’re applying for a credit-based undergraduate or graduate loan without a co-signer, you need two years of credit history and a minimum gross income of $24,000 in both the current and prior year.
  • If you only have two years of credit history (and no income), and are an undergraduate junior or senior, you can apply for the future-income-based student loan option. 

Those who aren’t U.S. citizens or permanent residents must have a co-signer who meets certain criteria to apply. 

Repaying Your Ascent Student Loan

Depending upon your loan type, Ascent’s repayment plans include the standards found with many lenders: in-school interest-only plan, $25 minimum monthly payment plan, regular monthly payments starting after the deferment or grace period, and the full principal plus interest repayment option. 

However, Ascent also offers graduated repayment, where you start out with low monthly payments that increase over time as your income (hopefully) increases. The loan will be paid off within your original loan term.

Those who take out future-income-based loans may only choose the repayment option that starts after the deferment period. 

If you want a longer 15- or 20-year repayment period with Ascent, you’ll be required to take on a variable interest rate, which could leave your payments at the mercy of interest-rate fluctuations. Even if rates are low when you apply, they could always creep up in the future. 

Borrowers can receive a grace period lasting between nine and 36 months, depending on their program. Deferment and forbearance options include those for students in school, active-duty military service, internships or residencies, financial distress, temporary hardships, and natural disasters. 

Notably, the temporary hardship forbearance can extend to a maximum of 24 months over the loan’s lifetime. Not all at once, though, as the forbearance is limited to four consecutive periods of three months each (so 12 months at a time). 

Elect for automatic payments and you’ll receive the usual 0.25% rate discount, plus could get a 2.00% autopay rate discount (for non-co-signed future-income-based loans only).

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a private student loan that doesn't require you to have a co-signer, Ascent may be the ideal lender for you. If you’re a junior or senior in college, Ascent’s future-income-based student loan of up to $20,000 per year might help make ends meet. If you’re a graduate student with a credit history spanning more than two years, you'll either need a co-signer or must meet minimum income requirements. This could put the loan out of reach for some students. As well, Ascent’s higher APRs may mean you pay more over the long term.

Article Sources

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  5. Ascent. "Graduate Student Loans." Accessed July 27, 2020.

  6. Ascent. "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)." Accessed July 27, 2020.