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Ascent Funding private student loans review

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Get the repayment flexibility you need to explore your career options in college.

finder.com’s rating: 4.4 / 5.0

★★★★★

  • Best for students who want a wide range of deferment and forbearance options.
  • Pick something else if you don't have a cosigner or good grades.

2.14% to 10.36%

APR

$200,000

Max. Loan Amount

680

Min. Credit Score

Details

Product NameAscent Funding
Minimum Loan Amount$2,001
Max. Loan Amount$200,000
APR2.14% to 10.36%
Interest Rate TypeFixed and variable
Fixed rate3.61% to 12%
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term15 years
RequirementsAnnual income of $24,000+ (cosigner), US citizen or permanent resident, attend an eligible school at least half-time in a degree-seeking program, 680+ credit score
Go to Ascent's website

Review by


Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.

Expert review

Ascent Funding offers student loans that are ideal for borrowers looking for a wide range of deferment and forbearance programs. You have the option to pause repayments during an internship, residency or if you hit a financial rough patch. It also offers a wide range of loan amounts — from $2,001 to $200,000. And you might qualify for a 1% cashback reward after graduation.

It’s also one of the only private student loan providers willing to work with students with credit scores as low as 540. And it also offers an option for upperclassmen to qualify based on their future potential income.

But students who apply without a cosigner for its future income-based loan need to have at least a 2.9 GPA to be eligible for funding. It’s also not ideal if you’re looking for a loan term longer than 15 years — where Ascent maxes out.

Not sold on Ascent? Compare other student loan providers.

Postpone up to three months of payments

Ascent recently launched a new forbearance option — The Natural Disaster and Declared Emergency Program — in response to borrowers struggling to pay due to the coronavirus outbreak. Through this program, you can postpone your student loan payments for up to three months.

Keep in mind that postponing your payments will extend your repayment term, and interest will continue to accrue. Plus, any interest rate reduction you received will be canceled during this time, which will make your loan even more expensive.

To apply, reach out to Launch Servicing — Ascent’s loan servicer — to sign up. If you’re still struggling once those three months are up, you may be eligible for temporary hardship forbearance as well.

First, am I eligible?

Ascent has different eligibility requirements depending on the type of loan you’re applying for:

Ascent Cosigned Credit-Based Loan

To qualify, you or your cosigner need to meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled at least half time at an eligible school in a degree-seeking program
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Cosigner with an annual income of at least $24,000

Ascent Non-Cosigned Credit-Based Loan

To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled at least half time at an eligible school in a degree-seeking program
  • Annual income of at least $24,000
  • Minimum credit score of 680
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Age of majority in your state

Ascent Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loan

To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Junior or senior undergraduate student
  • Enrolled full time at eligible school in a degree-seeking program
  • 2.9 GPA or greater and meet your school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Age of majority in your state

Ascent has a map on its website that shows eligible schools. You can also email Help@AscentFunding.com to see if yours qualifies.

How does Ascent Funding work?

Ascent is a private student loan provider designed to help students cover tuition and living costs. It has three options that students can use to pay for school.

  • Ascent Cosigned Credit-Based Loan: Best for students with a creditworthy cosigner
  • Ascent Non-Cosigned Credit-Based Loan: Best for students who don’t have a cosigner and have a credit score of at least 680
  • Ascent Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loan: Best for junior and senior students without a creditworthy cosigner

How much does an Ascent student loan cost?

Ascent has no origination, application, disbursement or prepayment fees on its loans, so the main cost you need to worry about is interest. Here’s how it breaks down:

Ascent Cosigned Loans

  • Fixed APRs: 3.61% to 12% with a 0.25% discount when you enroll in automatic payments
  • Variable APRs: 2.14% to 10.36% with a 0.25% discount when you enroll in automatic payments
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years

Ascent Non-Cosigned Loans

  • Fixed APRs: 5.45% to 14.5% with a 0.25% to 2% discount when you enroll in automatic payments
  • Variable APRs: 3.86% to 12.94% with a 0.25% to 2% discount when you enroll in automatic payments
  • Loan terms: 7, 10, 12 or 15 years
Variable rates for both the Ascent Cosigned and Non-Cosigned loans are based on the one-month LIBOR rate.

What are my repayment options?

When it comes to starting repayment, you can choose from one of these in-school options:

  • Deferred repayments. Hold off on repayments until six months after you leave school. Interest will continue to accumulate.
  • In-school interest-only repayments. Make payments on your interest while you’re still in school to stop it from adding up.
  • $25 minimum payments. Pay a fixed monthly payment of at least $25 while you’re still enrolled.

What are my deferment and forbearance options?

When it comes to how you pay off your loans long-term, Ascent only offers a standard repayment plan with fixed monthly repayments. However, if you need to reduce or put your loans on hold, you can apply for one of the following deferment or forbearance options:

  • Active-duty military deferment. Ascent temporarily lets service members off the hook for repayments while they’re on active military duty for up to a total of 36 months.
  • In-school deferment. Pause repayments for up to a total of 24 months if you decide to go back to school. Applying for this type of deferment extends your loan repayment term.
  • Residency or internship deferment. Not making that much money while building your career with a residency or internship? Apply to hold off on payments for up to 48 months until you enter the workforce as a full-fledged employee. Your loan term will also be extended by the amount of time deferred.
  • Temporary hardship deferment. If money’s too tight for you to afford your repayments, put it on pause for one to three months at a time — up to a total of 24 months over the life of your loan. Your repayment term remains the same if you choose this type of forbearance.

Keep in mind that Ascent’s loans capitalize — or add the accumulated interest to your loan’s principal balance — after deferment, minimal in-school repayments or forbearance. Choosing any of these options can help you save on your immediate costs, but they can make your loan more expensive in the long run.

More private student loans to consider

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Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
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Top 6 reasons to consider Ascent student loans

  1. Multiple forbearance options. Ascent comes with forbearance options that cover the main reasons someone would need to hold off on repayments. Ascent forbearance periods are twice as long as some other lenders, which are often capped at 12 months total.
  2. Wide range of loan amounts. You can borrow between $2,001 to $200,000 through an Ascent private student loan.
  3. Multiple in-school repayment options. Ascent’s starting repayment options beat out what you’d get with an unsubsidized student loan thanks to its fixed $25 in-school repayment choice.
  4. Cosigner release. You can apply to take your cosigner off your loan once you’ve made 24 on-time full repayments in a row and meet the minimum eligibility requirements.
  5. Cash Back Graduation Reward. Ascent offers a 1% cashback reward after graduation based on your original principal loan balance to qualifying borrowers.
  6. Flexible eligibility requirements. Ascent is one of the only private student loan providers willing to work with students with credit scores as low as 540. It also offers a loan option where eligibility is based on your future potential income after graduation.

Why you might want to look elsewhere

  • Maximum term of 15 years. Most private student loan providers offer 20- or 25-year loan terms. This means you may be stuck making high monthly repayments while you’re still looking for a solid job.
  • Your grades might matter. Ascent considers your GPA if you apply without a cosigner.

What do borrowers say about Ascent?

Though Ascent has been around since 2016, it doesn’t have reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website or Trustpilot as of September 2019. GS2 has a BBB page, however, which gets an A+ rating, although it’s not accredited and doesn’t have any customer reviews.

To find out what customers have to say about Ascent, you’ll have to visit forums like Reddit. One borrower seemed happy Ascent offered them a lower APR than its competitors. But otherwise, there’s not much out there.

What to expect when signing up

Once you’ve maxed out your federal student loans, you can apply online for an Ascent student loan. If you’re applying without a cosigner, gather the following documents together:

  • A copy of your unofficial transcript
  • Statements for other student loans in your name
  • Your school’s financial aid reward for that year

Once you have those on hand, you’re ready to apply. Here’s what you need to do to apply:

  1. Go to Ascent’s website and click Apply now.
  2. Enter information about your school and major. Click Next.
  3. Create an account to continue your application. Click Next.
  4. Fill out your employment information. Click Next.
  5. Enter information about your loan amount and term. Click Next.
  6. Read through the terms and conditions. If you agree, click Yes, I accept.

What happens after I apply?

You’ll then need to wait for your application to be processed, submitting any requested documents as soon as possible. This can take a few minutes if you’re applying with a cosigner or between two and three business days if you’re applying without — Ascent needs that time to review your documents.

After you’ve been conditionally approved, you’ll need to complete Ascent’s financial literacy module along with your cosigner, if applicable. You can then review and sign your loan documents before submitting them.

Ascent isn’t a lender, so you’ll actually be dealing with other subsidiaries of GS2 companies when you apply for a loan. Funding can come from one of two places: Richland State Bank or Bank of Lake Mills.

Who is Ascent’s servicer?

Ascent also uses a loans servicer, Launch Servicing to handle repayments. If you have any questions about repayment, including deferment or forbearance, reach out to Launch by calling 877-354-2629 — not Ascent.

With that said, it’s not as complicated as it sounds — you can apply for a loan and pay your bills using the Ascent website.

More about the company: Ascent and Goal Structured Solutions

Ascent is new to the student loan market. Its subsidiary Goal Structured Solutions (GS2) launched it in 2017 as a way of being directly involved in the tuition student loan market. However, GS2’s reach goes way beyond Ascent: It manages more than $26 billion in both private and federal student loans. GS2 also offers loans for the solar industry, and works as a debt buyer and collector.

GS2 won several awards including The San Diego Business Journal’s Best Places to Work from 2015 to 2019 and the San Diego Union-Tribune’s 2016 Top Workplaces.

Read our guide to student loans to compare your options before choosing a provider.

Frequently asked questions

Does Ascent offer any discounts?

Ascent offers a 0.25% to 2% discount on interest rates for eligible borrowers if you sign up for autopay. However, you’ll lose this benefit if your account shows insufficient funds for two payments. It also offers a 1% cashback reward after you graduate to qualifying borrowers.

And each time you refer a friend to Ascent and they take out a loan, you’ll receive $525 and your friend receives $100 — there’s no limit to how many friends you can refer.

Are international students eligible?

Yes, if you have a cosigner that meets all eligibility requirements, including citizenship and creditworthiness.

Where can I find the status of my loan?

You can log in to your account, call Ascent customer service at 877-216-0876 or email help@ascentprogram.com.

How does my interest add up?

Ascent uses daily simple interest, meaning that your interest is calculated on a daily basis based on your current loan balance. You can calculate your daily interest rate by dividing the annual interest rate by the number of days in a year.

Does Ascent offer any other perks aside from its 1% cashback program?

Yes, Ascent also offers a refer-a-friend program, scholarships and online financial resources to help students and their parents make smart decisions when paying for college.

Student loan ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

We rate student loan providers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on factors like transparency, costs and customer experience. We don’t take into account elements like eligibility criteria, state availability or payment frequency — we save that for our reviews.

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