If you are looking for a private student loan to help you fill the gaps left by federal student loans, you may have heard of Ascent. One of the newer private lenders on the market, Ascent has proven popular among borrowers. But are they the right lender for you?
To help you make a more informed decision about funding your college education, here we answer all of the most common questions that borrowers have about Ascent, including: Who they are, the types of loans they offer, what their application process looks like, and more.
Who is Ascent?
Ascent is a lender of private student loans. Ascent is a division of Goal Structures Solutions (GS2), a finance technology company, and partners with Richland State Bank to originate student loans for its lenders.
The company was founded on the principle that student loans should be a tool that borrowers could use to reach their dreams. This is why Ascent created student loans specifically for borrowers who didn’t have a cosigner to join them on their application. These non-cosigned student loans are available in two varieties:
- Credit-based, which take a borrower’s credit history and score into account when determining eligibility and interest rates
- Future Income-Based, which take a borrower’s degree, major, and field of study into account when determining eligibility and interest rates
While these loans are perhaps what Ascent is most well known for, the company also offers traditional private student loans.
Types of Student Loans Offered by Ascent
Ascent offers a number of different types of student loans that potential borrowers can choose from. These include:
- Cosigned Undergraduate Loans (Credit-Based): For borrowers pursuing their undergraduate degree and who will be applying with a cosigner. The terms of these loans are determined by the applicant’s credit score.
- Non-Cosigned Undergraduate Loans (Credit-Based): For borrowers pursuing their undergraduate degree and who do not have a cosigner. The terms of these loans are determined by the applicant’s credit score.
- Non-Cosigned Undergraduate Loans (Future Income-Based): For qualifying juniors and seniors who are applying for a loan without a cosigner. The terms of this loan are impacted by your major and field of study.
- Graduate Student Loans: For borrowers pursuing a general graduate degree
- MBA Student Loans: For borrowers pursuing their MBA
- Medical School Student Loans: For borrowers earning a graduate degree in a medical field such as optometry, osteopathic, podiatric and veterinary medicine
- Dental School Student Loans: For borrowers seeking a graduate degree in dentistry
- Law School Student Loans: For borrowers seeking their law degree
Ascent Interest Rates
As a private lender, Ascent’s interest rates are not set by law the same way that the interest rates on federal student loans are. This means Ascent can charge whatever they want for interest rates, so long as they are being competitive enough to attract lenders.
Interest rates on private student loans are typically determined by a number of factors, including:
- Your income: Whether or not you have a source of income, and how much you make, may impact your interest rates.
- Your credit score: This number is meant to measure how risky you are as a borrower. The higher your score, the less risky you are seen to be, and the more likely you will qualify for lower interest rates.
- Your cosigner status: If you apply with a cosigner, you are much more likely to qualify for lower interest rates than if you apply for the loan on your own.
Ascent, like other lenders, typically advertise their lowest possible interest rates in an attempt to attract borrowers. (Makes enough sense!) But it’s important to realize that these hyper-low rates are very difficult to qualify for. Generally speaking, they are typically reserved for borrowers with excellent credit scores and/or are carried by loans with variable rates instead of fixed rates.
How to Apply for a Student Loan Through Ascent
To apply for an Ascent student loan, all you need to do is visit their website and click “Apply Now.” This will start the application process.
To check your rates, you will need to provide information about:
- The school you will be attending
- The degree you are pursuing
- Your field of study/major
- Your enrollment status (half-time vs full-time)
- Your anticipates month and year of graduation
- Your name and contact information
- Your Social Security Number and date of birth
- Your rent or mortgage payment
- Your employment status
- The amount of financial aid you are receiving
- The amount you need for the loan
Upon submitting this information, your credit (and that of your cosigner, if you are applying with one) will be checked using a soft pull, which will not impact your credit score. This will allow Ascent to very quickly determine whether or not you prequalify for one of their loans. If you do, you will be given a range of possible interest rates based on this initial check.
If you decide to move forward with a full application, Ascent will perform a full credit check (which likely will impact your credit) that will allow them to give you a final interest rate offer.
Ascent Pros and Cons
Pros of Borrowing from Ascent
- No fees: Ascent does not charge application, origination, or prepayment fees, though they do charge late fees.
- Options for borrowers without cosigners: The future income-based student loan from Ascent offers borrowers without a cosigner a path towards receiving a loan.
- 0.25% auto pay discount: Borrowers who sign up for auto pay can reduce their interest rate by a quarter percent
- 2.00% auto pay discount (for future income-based loans): Borrowers of future income-based student loans can receive a discount of 2% by signing up for auto pay.
- 1% cash back graduation reward: Borrowers who graduate on time can receive 1% of their total loan amount as a cash-back reward
- 9-month grace period: Undergraduate student loans come with a 9-month grace period during which time payments do not need to be made, which is actually more generous than the 6-month grace period typical of federal student loans
- Cosigner release: Borrowers who apply for their loan with a cosigner can release the cosigner from the loan after making 24 consecutive, on-time monthly payments
Cons of Borrowing from Ascent
- Interest rates not set by law: While it’s possible for some borrowers with excellent credit scores to qualify for extremely low rates, the majority of Ascent borrowers are likely to pay higher interest rates than they would for comparable federal student loans.
- Limited deferment options: Though Ascent offers some deferment options for borrowers who are returning to school, accepted into a residency program, or enter the military, these options are limited compared to the deferment and forbearance options offered by federal student loans.
- Not eligible for forgiveness: Unlike federal student loans, which may qualify for forgiveness in certain situations, Ascent student loans do not.
- No guaranteed acceptance: Whereas unsubsidized undergraduate federal student loans are made available to borrowers regardless of credit score or financial situation, private student loans (including those offered by Ascent) have much stricter eligibility requirements.
How to Contact Ascent
If you need to contact Ascent, you can do so through the options below. Their hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 6am to 6pm Pacific Time; Friday and Saturday, 7am to 4pm. They are closed on Sunday.
Ascent Funding, LLC
501 W. Broadway Ste. A150
San Diego, CA 92101
Alternatives to Ascent
While Ascent offers some interesting loan options for borrowers, the fact remains that they are private student loans. These loans are almost guaranteed to be more expensive and less flexible than other student loan options like federal student loans, state-based student loans, and institutional student loans.
For that reason, we recommend that borrowers only turn to private student loans after they have already exhausted all of their other options.
If you exhaust all of the options and still need help paying for college, you need to make sure that you do your homework to find the best interest rates and most competitive terms. The best way to do this is to compare lenders using a student loan marketplace, which will let you compare your options side by side.