Ascent Funding was launched in 2015 to address a growing need in the private student loan industry: International students, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students and individuals without established credit histories often struggled to find financing for college.
Ascent offers both cosigned and noncosigned loans for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as loans for career schools and coding boot camps. Students can also check available rates without impacting their credit scores, and Ascent has multiple loan terms and repayment plans to give students more flexibility.
Ascent student loans review
Ascent stands out from other lenders because it serves students that are often ineligible for loans from private student loan companies. It offers additional benefits like interest rate discounts and a 1% cashback graduation benefit, and borrowers can take advantage of a longer-than-average grace period.
Ascent student loans are a good fit for international students, DACA students and individuals who don’t have a cosigner and need financing for their education.
Although Ascent doesn’t offer student loan refinancing, it does offer a wide range of loan options for undergraduate, graduate, career and boot camp programs.
|APRs||● Cosigned undergraduate loan:
○ Fixed: 4.36%-12.33%
○ Variable: 1.47%-9.05%
● Noncosigned credit-based loan:
○ Fixed: 6.96%-14.08%
○ Variable: 4.05%-10.80%
● Noncosigned outcomes-based loan:
○ Fixed: 11.47%-12.46%
○ Variable: 8.90%-11.31%
● General graduate school loan:
○ Fixed: 4.47%-14.08%*
○ Variable: 1.48%-10.81%*
● MBA loan:
○ Fixed: 4.47%-14.08%
○ Variable: 1.48%-10.81%
● Medical school loan:
○ Fixed: 4.24%-14.08%
○ Variable: 1.46%-10.80%
● Dental school loan:
○ Fixed: 4.38%-14.08%*
○ Variable: 1.47%-10.80%*
● Law school loan:
○ Fixed: 4.47%-14.08%*
○ Variable: 1.48%-10.81%*
● Career loan:
○ 60-month loan: 9.478%-15.447% (fixed)
○ 84-month loan: 9.46%-15.16% (fixed)
○ 120-month loan: 9.47%-15.02% (fixed)
● Boot camp loan:
○ Rates vary by school
*Lowest rates include autopay discounts
|Basics||● Prequalify and check your eligibility and rates without impacting your credit score
● Borrow as little as $2,001 and as much as the total cost of attendance (subject to an aggregate maximum of $200,000)
● Fixed and variable interest rates
● Autopay discounts range from 0.25% to 1.00% depending on loan type
● Cosigned and noncosigned options available
|Eligibility||● Must attend a school on Ascent’s list of eligible institutions
● Must be enrolled as a half-time or full-time student
● When applicable, must meet minimum credit score requirements (not disclosed)
● Cosigners and borrowers without a cosigner and with at least two years of credit history must have an income of $24,000 or higher
|Applying||● May apply with or without a cosigner
● Noncosigned loans can be outcomes-based rather than credit-based
● No application, origination or disbursement fees
● Late fee: $25 or 5% of the late payment amount, whichever is less
● Returned payment fee: $25
|Repayment||● Grace periods as long as nine months for undergraduate loans
● No prepayment penalties
● Reduce your interest rate by as much as 1.00 percentage points by enrolling in autopay
● Cosigner releases available after 24 months of on-time payments
● Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years for undergraduate loans
○ 10 or 15 years for outcomes-based loans
● Three in-school repayment options: Deferred, interest-only and flat $25 payments
|Support||● Economic hardship forbearance periods are available. The forbearance period lasts for one to three months, and borrowers can apply for up to four consecutive periods of forbearance. A maximum of 24 months of forbearance is permitted over the life of the loan.
● Loan forgiveness is only available when the student borrower dies or is totally and permanently disabled. It does not apply to cosigners.
What to like about Ascent student loans
With Ascent student loans, you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance (up to a $200,000 aggregate maximum) and have up to 15 years to repay your loans. Here’s what to like about Ascent’s offerings:
- Up to 1.00% autopay discount
- 1% cashback graduation award
- Available to international students, DACA students and individuals without credit histories
Up to 1.00% autopay discount
Enrolling in autopay is an excellent way to ensure you never miss a payment. But there’s an added benefit: You can get an interest rate discount. While most student loan lenders offer a discount of 0.25%, Ascent offers a more significant discount for some borrowers.
Students that opt for the noncosigned outcomes-based loan can qualify for an interest rate discount as high as 1.00%. Such a large discount can help you save a significant amount of money over time.
Borrowers of other loan types can qualify for a 0.25 percentage point discount.
1% cashback graduation reward
If you graduate from the degree program you took out an Ascent loan to pay for, you can receive a one-time cashback reward worth 1% of your loan amount. For example, if you took out a $20,000 loan, you could receive a $200 reward.
You’re only eligible to receive the award once, so if you took out multiple loans, you’ll only receive the cashback reward one time. To qualify for the reward, you must be enrolled in automatic payments, provide documentation verifying your graduation and degree and be current with your payments.
Loans for nontraditional borrowers
Ascent caters to students that may struggle to find lenders willing to work with them. Ascent has options for international students, DACA students and borrowers without established credit histories or cosigners.
- International students: International students are eligible for Ascent’s credit-based loans if they have a qualifying cosigner that is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- DACA students: DACA students can qualify for either cosigned loans with a creditworthy cosigner or noncosigned loans.
- Borrowers with limited credit histories: If you have a limited credit history, you can qualify for a loan by adding a cosigner. However, Ascent also offers noncosigned credit-based loans and outcomes-based loans for borrowers without established credit histories.
- Borrowers without cosigners: Typically, lenders determine a borrower’s eligibility for a private student loan by looking at their credit history or the credit history of a cosigner. Ascent is unique for its noncosigned outcomes-based loan, which allows students to take out a loan — without a cosigner or an established credit history — based on their career potential.
|Can’t find a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner?||Prodigy Finance is among lenders assisting international student borrowers|
|Not attending an eligible degree-granting school?||Check out options for nondegree student loans|
|Not attending classes at least half time?||There are lenders with part-time student loan options|
What to keep in mind about Ascent student loans
While Ascent could be a useful option for many borrowers, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind.
Higher APRs than some competitors offer
Borrowers with good credit or a relative willing to cosign a loan can likely find better rates elsewhere.
Ascent works with nontraditional borrowers, including those with limited credit histories that don’t have cosigners. As such, the lender charges higher interest rates than you may find elsewhere. Depending on the type of loan you choose, Ascent’s rates can be as high as 14.08% — significantly higher than the maximum rates charged by some other lenders.
Unclear borrower eligibility requirements
Ascent doesn’t make it clear what its borrower requirements are for its loans. Instead of listing a minimum credit score, the company says its credit criteria are proprietary and subject to change.
However, Ascent does have a prequalification tool, so you can check your eligibility for a loan and view potential rates without undergoing a hard credit inquiry.
Noncosigned, outcomes-based loans aren’t available to everyone
The ability to qualify for a student loan without a cosigner and with a limited credit history is incredibly appealing. With Ascent’s outcomes-based loan, borrowers can qualify for a loan based on their career potential rather than their credit.
However, not all borrowers are eligible for the noncosigned, outcomes-based loan. It’s only available to college juniors and seniors that are enrolled full time. In addition, students must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents or considered DACA students; international borrowers don’t qualify.
How Ascent student loans compare
Before taking out a loan from Ascent — or any private student loan company — it’s wise to research other lenders to find the best rates and terms.
|Loans for:||● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Career school students
● Coding boot camps
|● Undergraduates and graduate students
● Student loan refinancing
|● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Parent loans
● Student loan refinancing for graduates and parents
|APRs||Variable starting at 1.47% and fixed starting at 3.97%||Variable starting at 0.00% and fixed starting at 14.98%||Variable starting at 3.22% and fixed starting at 3.23%|
|Ability to prequalify without affecting credit||Yes||Yes||No|
|In-school repayment options||3||1||3|
|Repayment terms||10 years||10 years||5, 10, 15 years|
|Cosigner release available||Yes — after 24 months of timely payments (and meeting other criteria)||Not applicable||Yes — after 36 months of timely payments (and meeting other criteria)|
You’ll very likely be better off if you shop around beyond a few lenders. Make sure you learn all about the best options for your specific needs.
Are Ascent student loans right for you?
Whether you need money to complete your master’s degree or are looking for financing for a coding boot camp, Ascent has several loan options that could help you achieve your goals. If you’ve had trouble finding a lender willing to work with you because of your citizenship status or lack of credit history, Ascent could be a useful resource.
However, its rates may be higher than you can find elsewhere, and not everyone will qualify for its loans. To find a lender that fits your needs, check out other leading private student loan companies.
How to apply with Ascent
You can check your rate online in just a few minutes. Enter your personal information, including your income, requested loan amount and where you will go to college, to get information about available loan options.
Before completing the full application and consenting to a hard credit inquiry, be sure to compare offers from other private student loan lenders.
How to contact Ascent
Ascent is available via email or phone to answer any questions you may have. If you’re an existing student loan borrower, Ascent’s student loan servicer is Launch Servicing.
[email protected] (for existing loan customers)
|Phone||877-216-0876||● Monday through Thursday: 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. PST
● Friday: 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. PST
|Ascent Funding, LLC
501 W. Broadway Ste. A150
San Diego, CA 92101
Frequently asked questions about Ascent student loans
If you didn’t find your question answered in our Ascent review, see the following FAQs:
Is Ascent a private student loan company?
Ascent Funding is a private student loan company, meaning it issues loans to college students to help them finance their education. Because they are private student loans, Ascent’s loans aren’t eligible for federal loan benefits like income-driven repayment plans.
Does Ascent refinance student loans?
No, Ascent does not offer student loan refinancing for either private or federal student loans.
What kind of forbearance programs does Ascent have?
Ascent has multiple deferment and forbearance programs, including:
- Active duty military deferment
- In-school deferment
- Residency/internship deferment
- Temporary hardship forbearance
- Administrative forbearance
- Natural disaster/declared emergency forbearance
Under temporary hardship forbearance, you can postpone your payments for one to three months at a time while you deal with financial issues like a job loss or medical emergency. You can apply for up to four consecutive periods of deferment, and a maximum of 24 months over the life of your loan.
Methodology for ratings
To come up with our star rating for student loan refinancing lenders and companies, and private student loan lenders and companies, Student Loan Hero asks hard questions — 20 of them, in fact. These questions span three categories: accessibility, rates and terms, and repayment experience. That’s because we want to judge financial institutions on their products and services from start to finish: when our users are shopping around, filing applications and paying down their debt. A top-rated lender, for instance, has inclusive eligibility criteria, allows you to prequalify and check rates without harming your credit score and is supportive as you face monthly payments.
The answers that we get to our 20 questions — either from the lenders themselves or by combing through their fine print — determine the overall rating. We score answers consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, to ensure that you can make equal comparisons between all lenders that we put under the microscope.
Student Loan Hero isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have a say in their content. The goal with our reviews and ratings, along with everything else we do, is to give our users the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available to make the best decisions according to their borrowing needs.
Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to Ascent student loans, which is current as of April 4, 2022, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.