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Ascent

2022 review

Ascent provides multiple ways to obtain student loan approval, even if you’re in a challenging financial situation. You can borrow your total cost of attendance and enjoy flexible repayment terms along with opportunities for discounts and rewards.

8.8 / 10
Editorial Score
Ginny Dorn
Personal finance and mortgages specialist
May 11, 2022

Overview

Ascent offers a wide range of student loans, including graduate and undergraduate loans with or without a cosigner. However, the company is best known for its unique outcome-based undergraduate loans. You can fund your education through this program without a cosigner, steady income, or credit. Instead, the lender considers your school, program, and future income potential to make a lending decision.

This lender aims to make student loans affordable, with no application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees. You can get a 1% discount for auto-pay, double the standard 0.50% most lenders offer, as well as cash rewards for graduation and referrals. Flexible repayment options allow you to save on interest while forbearance programs let you pause payments in the case of unexpected financial hardship in the future.

In addition to regular student loans, Ascent also has coding bootcamp and career loans.  You can use these loans to learn technical skills and earn certifications that can boost your career or help you change professions.

GREAT CHOICE 2022
8.8 / 10
Editorial Score
Ascent
Quick view:
Editorial Score
8.8 / 10
Online Services
Applications, Quote management, etc.
10 / 10
Customer Service
8.0 / 10
Available in all states
10 / 10
Available loan types
8.0 / 10
Products
8.0 / 10

See All Ascent’s Student Loan Options

Products & Services

Ascent has a variety of undergraduate and graduate student loans. It also offers bootcamp and career loans so you can pursue certifications and training programs. Unlike many lenders, it does not provide student loan refinancing or parent loans.

Cosigned Undergraduate Student Loans

Cosigned undergraduate loans offer Ascent’s best rates and terms, especially if your cosigner has a good-to-excellent credit score. Variable rates range from 1.47% to 9.05% APR, while fixed rates range from 3.28% to 11.26% APR. Loan amounts begin at $2,001 and go up to $200,000 per academic year. You can choose a term of 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years.

To qualify, you must have at least half-time enrollment. You can apply if you’re a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, international student, or student with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status. You’ll need a creditworthy cosigner who is a permanent resident or U.S. citizen.

Cosigners must provide proof of a minimum gross annual income of $24,000 for the current year and the previous year. Cosigner release may be available after you make 24 on-time, consecutive, full payments of principal and interest. Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not eligible for cosigner release.

With a cosigned loan, you may choose to make flat $25 minimum payments or interest-only payments while in school. This will help you pay less in interest in the long run.

You can also defer payment completely while in school and for nine months after graduation. When the deferment period ends, you’ll make payments on the principal and interest. This could be helpful if you don’t have a steady income or need to spend your money on other bills.

See All Ascent’s Student Loan Options

Non-Cosigned Credit-Based Undergraduate Student Loans

Ascent’s credit-based student loans allow you to borrow amounts starting at  $2,001, up to $200,000 per academic year without a cosigner. Terms include 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15-year options. Variable interest rates range from 4.05% to 10.80% APR or 5.95% to 13.02% for fixed-rate APR.

With a credit-based loan, you’ll need at least two years of credit history. You must meet Ascent’s minimum credit score, which is subject to change but generally falls around 680. Your gross annual income must be at least $24,000 for the current and previous year to meet Ascent’s debt-to-income (DTI) standards.

As with cosigned loans, you can make interest-only or flat $25 payments while in school. You can also choose to defer repayment for up to nine months after leaving school. These are fairly standard repayment options, but they provide the flexibility to do what’s best for your budget.

Non-Cosigned Outcomes-Based Undergraduate Student Loans

Ascent determines your eligibility for outcomes-based depending on factors other than credit or income. It considers your program, school, and projected future income (the potential salary you could make after graduation).

You can borrow as little as $2,001 up to a lifetime total of $200,000. However, you’re limited to a maximum of $20,000 for each academic year. You can choose a term of 10 or 15 years. Variable rates range from 8.90% to 11.31% APR, while fixed rates range from 10.59% to 12.46% APR.

To qualify for an outcomes-based loan, you must be a junior or senior enrolled full-time or graduating within nine months. You’ll also need a minimum 2.9 GPA and must meet your school’s satisfactory academic performance standards.

This is one of the only student loan options on the market that does not require credit history, cosigner, or income. However, if you do have a credit history of at least two years, you must have a good or excellent credit score to take advantage of this unique program.

Outcomes-based loans allow you to defer repayment for up to nine months after leaving school. While you do not have the in-school repayment options that credit-based loans provide, Ascent does not charge any prepayment fees. You can save on interest by repaying the loan while in school at your own discretion.

See All Ascent’s Student Loan Options

Graduate Loans

Ascent offers graduate student loans for MBA, PhD, law, medical, and dental school. However, it does not have bar study or medical residency loans, common options from competing lenders.

With Ascent’s graduate loans, you can borrow as little as $2,001 and as much as $200,000 per academic year. Fixed rates range from 3.34% to 13.02% APR and variable rates range from 1.46% to 10.81% APR. Terms for variable or fixed rates are 7, 10, 12, or 15 years. Medical and dental school loans also offer the option for a 20-year term on variable rates.

MBA, PhD, law, and general graduate degrees have a maximum in-school period of 36 months. These degrees also have the option to postpone payments for nine months after graduation. This is in line with what other private lenders offer for deferment. However, federal student loans only allow you to defer for six months after graduation.

Medical and dental degrees have a maximum in-school period of 48 months. You can defer payments for up to 36 months after graduation. If you’re a dental student, you can defer payments for up to 12 months after you graduate. These options are fairly standard, as most private lenders allow you to defer while in residency.

With any graduate degree, you may also choose to make a $25 minimum monthly payment or interest-only payments while in school. There is no penalty for early repayment.

Bootcamp Loans

Ascent offers bootcamp loans for accelerated learning programs that teach skills like coding and data analytics. Unlike its student loans, the bootcamp loans are specifically for courses from online education platforms like Thinkful or Springboard. You can obtain a bootcamp loan only to attend a program through one of Ascent’s partners, chosen based on acceptance rates, application process, staff qualifications, curriculum, and student outcomes.

You can get a bootcamp loan with or without a cosigner. You can borrow as little as $2,000 up to the maximum tuition for the program. You may also be able to borrow funds for living expenses, depending on the program. Terms are 36 or 60 months. Interest rates vary depending on your school or program.

Bootcamp loans have a one-time origination fee of 5% of your total loan amount. If you borrow $10,000 for tuition, the fee would be $500, usually added to the cost of your loan.

You can defer repayment for up to three months after you complete the program. While in school, you may choose to make interest-only payments. There’s no prepayment penalty.

Career Loans

Ascent’s career loans are consumer loans to fund certification programs and professional training at select schools. While Ascent’s bootcamp loans are for accelerated courses, its career loans cover things like project management or supply chain certifications. You can borrow as little as $2,000. Terms are 60 months, 84 months, and 120 months. Interest rates range from 8% to 14%.

You can defer repayment while in school and for up to three months after you graduate. You have the option to make interest-only or full payments while in school. After graduation or the deferment period, you’ll make full payments on both the principal and interest.

With any of Ascent’s student loans, you may request forbearance for temporary hardships, active duty military, natural disasters, declared emergencies, and residencies or internships. Ascent has sole discretion over forbearance after you graduate. However, you may be eligible for:

  • 1 to 3 months of forbearance at a time
  • Up to 4 consecutive periods of forbearance
  • A maximum of 24 months of forbearance during the lifetime of the loan

It’s important to note that interest still accrues while a loan is in forbearance. Ascent capitalizes any unpaid interest when forbearance ends.

See All Ascent’s Student Loan Options

Rates and Terms

Ascent allows you to borrow up to your total certified cost of attendance after financial aid up to a maximum of $200,000 per academic year. However, outcomes-based loans have a limit of $20,000 per year. Terms include 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years, depending on your loan type.

Interest rates vary depending on the type of loan you get, your credit, income, and whether you have a cosigner. With that said, Ascent offers variable interest rates as low as 1.47% and fixed interest rates as low as 3.28%.

There are no application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees for most loans. However, there is an origination fee for bootcamp loans. Late fees on any type of loan can cost up to $35.

If you sign up for autopay, you can get a .25% discount for credit-based loans, including co-signed loans, or a 1% discount for outcomes-based loans. Ascent also provides a 1% cashback graduation reward when you graduate within 5 years of loan disbursement. For example, if you had $100,000 in loans, your reward would be $1,000.

Through Ascent’s Refer A Friend Program you can earn up to $525. You get $25 when friends apply and get approval, plus $500 when Ascent funds and disburses your friend’s loan. In return, your friend also earns $100 at the time of disbursement.

Application Process and Qualifications

You can use Ascent’s prequalification tool to get a rate estimate without affecting your credit score. If you choose to complete your application, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Permanent address
  • Social security number
  • Desired loan amount
  • Financial aid amount
  • School information
  • Current rent payments
  • Employer and income information

To qualify for a student loan with Ascent, you must be enrolled at least half-time. You can qualify for a loan whether you’re a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. If you’re a student with DACA status or are an international student, you’ll need a cosigner to apply.

If you’re applying for a credit-based loan, you or your cosigner will need two years of credit history. You or your cosigner must also have a minimum income of $24,000 to meet Ascent’s DTI ratio. If you’re applying for an outcome-based loan, there is no income expectation and you must have no credit history or credit history of fewer than two years.

Approval Time

You can get approval within as little as 5 minutes of applying. This is becoming the standard for online lenders but is still notably faster than traditional banks, which can take days. Still, it’s important to note that if your application is incomplete or needs further review, you might have to wait longer. The amount of time that it takes for loan disbursement will depend on your school.

Customer Service

You can contact Ascent’s customer service team by phone or email. They’re available Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST. While this isn’t far off the industry average, some lenders provide support for longer hours, on weekends, and via live chat.

Summary

Ascent offers a unique variety of student loans, some of which you won’t find elsewhere. Its outcome-based loan is one of the only loans on the market that does not require a cosigner and has no income or credit minimums. However, this type of loan is only available to juniors and seniors. Freshmen and sophomores without a cosigner will need to choose a credit-based loan.

It’s also worth noting that a cosigner will guarantee you the best interest rate. Outcomes-based and credit-based loans without a cosigner will have high-interest rates. Still, this is a great opportunity for those who don’t have the option of a cosigner. I found the customer service to be fast and friendly and their online platform easy to use.

Ascent also offers a lot of opportunities to save or earn money. It has no application, disbursement, or prepayment fees and offers up to 1% off if you sign up for autopay. You can earn 1% of your total loan amount for graduating and up to $525 for referring your friends. With flexible repayment and forbearance options, Ascent is worth considering for your student loans.

See All Ascent’s Student Loan Options

FAQ

Is Ascent Funding legit?

Yes, Ascent Funding is legit. It’s available at over 2,200 schools and its lending partners are members of the FDIC.

Does Ascent do a hard credit check?

Ascent does not do a hard credit check when you prequalify to check your rates. However, if you choose to complete the application, Ascent will need to perform a hard credit check, which can affect your credit score.

Can you pay off an Ascent loan early?

Yes. There is no prepayment penalty for paying off your Ascent loan early. Ascent also offers in-school repayment options, including a flat payment of $25 and interest-only payments.

Does Ascent have a cosigner release?

Yes. You can apply for cosigner release after 24 months of on-time, consistent, full payments of principal and interest. Cosigner release is not available for students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Ginny Dorn
Written by

Ginny Dorn is a freelance personal finance writer. She specializes in credit card debt, personal loans, and mortgages. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.

Pros:
  • Third-year and fourth-year students qualify without cosigner or credit
  • International and DACA students can get cosigner loans
  • 1% cashback reward for graduating within 5 years
Cons:
  • No refinancing or parent loans
  • Higher-than-average interest rates with no cosigner
  • Origination fee of 5% for bootcamp loans
Bottom Line

Ascent could provide a student loan solution if you have struggled to finance your education without a cosigner or credit history. However, you must be a junior or senior to qualify for the outcome-based approval program. Ascent is also worth a look if you have good credit or a creditworthy cosigner. Most borrowers are eligible for cosigner release after two years of on-time payments.

While this lender does offer more opportunities to qualify for student loans, interest rates may be higher if you have no cosigner or poor credit. On the other hand, Ascent’s discounts, rewards, and repayment and forbearance programs provide savings that set it apart from competitors.