Ascent private student loans review May 2018 | finder.com

Ascent private student loans review

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

Looking for a private student loan with flexible repayment programs? Ascent could be for you. Unlike many federal student loans, Ascent offers plenty of deferment and in-school repayment plans allowing you some wiggle room to figure out your career.

And you might need that time too — its loan terms are on the short side, translating into higher monthly repayments. Read on to find out if Ascent is right for you.

Product NameAscent Student Loans
Min Loan Amount$1,000
Max. Loan Amount$200,000
APR3.78%–13.03%
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term15 years
  • Annual income of $24,000+ (or applying with a cosigner)
  • Strong credit (or applying with a cosigner)
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Attend an eligible school at least half-time

First, am I eligible?

To meet Ascent’s basic eligibility requirements, you or your cosigner must:

  • Make at least $24,000 annually
  • Have strong credit
  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident
  • Be enrolled at an eligible school at least half-time

Ascent doesn’t have a master list of eligible schools, but find out if yours school is eligible by visiting the Ascent website and clicking Check Eligibility. If you can’t find your school, reach out to Ascent by emailing partner@ascentprogram.com to see if yours can qualify.

How do Ascent student loans work?

Ascent is a private student loan provider designed by Goal Structured Solutions (GS2) to help students cover tuition costs after they’ve reached their federal loan limits. It has two main options that both graduate and undergraduate students can use to pay for school: Ascent Tuition and Ascent Independent. If you’re a nursing student, you might also want to look into Ascent Health.

Ascent Tuition

  • For borrowing with a cosigner.
  • Can be used to cover tuition and living expenses.
  • Lower interest rates than Ascent Independent.
  • Best for freshmen, sophomores and students with minimal credit history.

Ascent Independent

  • For borrowing without a cosigner.
  • Can be used to pay for tuition and living expenses.
  • Higher rates than Ascent Tuition.
  • Best for junior, seniors and students with a strong credit history.

Ascent Health

  • For nursing students.
  • Can be used to pay for tuition and educational expenses.
  • Only offered variable rates higher than both Ascent Tuition and Ascent Independent.
  • Limited payment options.

It also offers Ascent Assured loans for domestic and international students and doesn’t require a cosigner or credit score. It’s a shared-risk program between the lender and the school, with the opportunity for the school to determine interest rates and fees.

How much does an Ascent student loan cost?

How much your Ascent student loan costs you depends on which loan you borrow. Ascent doesn’t charge any origination, application or disbursement fees on its Tuition or Independent loans.

Ascent Tuition

  • Fixed APRs range from 5.29% to 11.54%
  • Variable APRs range from 3.78% to 10.03% (one-month LIBOR plus 2.25% to 9%)
  • Loan terms of five, 12 and 15 years

Ascent Independent

  • Fixed APRs range from 5.79% to 14.54%
  • Variable APRs range from 4.28% to 13.03% (one-month LIBOR plus 2.75% to 12.25%)
  • Loan terms of five, 12 and 15 years

Ascent Health

  • Variable APRs from 7.28% and 13.52% (one-month LIBOR plus 5.75% to 12.50%)
  • Loan terms of 10 and 12 years

Does Ascent offer discounts?

Ascent offers a 0.25% discount on interest rates if you sign up for auto debit. However, you’ll lose this benefit if your account shows insufficient funds for two payments.

What are my repayment options?

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

  • Deferred repayment. Hold off repayments until six months after you leave school while your interest accumulates.
  • In-school interest-only repayments. Make payments on your interest while you’re still in school to keep it from adding up.
  • $25 minimum payments. Pay a fixed monthly payment of at least $25 while you’re still enrolled. Only available for Ascent Tuition and Ascent Independent.
  • Immediate repayment. Start making full repayments on your loan’s interest and principal after your funds are disbursed (only for Ascent Health).

When it comes to how you pay off your loans long-term, Ascent only offers your 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 military deferment. Ascent temporarily lets servicemembers 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 24 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 can make your loan more expensive in the long run.

More private student loans to consider

Rates last updated May 26th, 2018
Name Product Minimum Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Product Description
LendingTree Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
2.55%–9.75% (fixed)
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.
CommonBond Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
$500,000
3.75%–9.67% (fixed)
Finance your higher education or refinance existing student loans through a lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Credible Private Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
As low as 2.98% (variable)
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Top 5 reasons to consider Ascent student loans

  • Multiple forbearance options. Ascent comes with forbearance options that cover the top reasons someone would need to hold off on repayments. Plus, forbearance periods are twice as long as some other lenders, often capped at 12 months total.
  • Wide range of loan amounts. You can borrow as little as $1,000 and up to $200,000, meeting most students’ private student loan needs.
  • Multiple in-school repayment options. Ascent’s starting repayment options actually beat out what you’d get with an unsubsidized student loan, thanks to its fixed $25 in-school repayment choice.
  • 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.
  • No prepayment penalty. Save on interest by paying off your loan early without being slapped with a fee.

Why you might want to look elsewhere

  • No income-based repayment plan. If you’re not expecting to make enough money to cover your loan repayments during the first few years of your career, you can’t pick from an income-based or graduated repayment plan, which federal and some private student loans come with.
  • Higher fixed interest rates without cosigner. If you aren’t interested in borrowing with a cosigner and don’t want to risk a variable rate, you might not be able to find the best deal with Ascent.
  • Relatively short loan terms available. Ascent doesn’t have a 20-year option, which can help make repayments significantly lower.
  • Involved application process. Ascent’s application process includes extra steps you might not find with other lenders.

What do borrowers say about Ascent?

Ascent is less than a year old, so it’s not surprising that it doesn’t have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot page. GS2 has a BBB page, however, which gets an A+ rating though it’s not accredited and has no customer reviews.

To find out what customers have to say about Ascent, you’ll have to visit forums like Reddit. And even there you won’t find much.

Despite Ascent’s relatively wide range of rates, it appeared to offer competitive APRs compared to competitors. One borrower was confused about the application process, which is a bit more involved than most.

What to expect when signing up

Once you’ve maxed out your federal student loans, you can apply for an Ascent student loan online. 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 either Check Eligibility under the Ascent Tuition logo or Check your eligibility under Ascent Independent.
  2. Select your school’s state, your school name and fill out the rest of the required fields before clicking Am I eligible?
  3. Set up an account to start your application by clicking Create an Account.
  4. Follow the steps to complete the application, making sure to read all terms and conditions carefully before agreeing to them.
  5. After each step click Continue and Save. Review your application and hit Submit.
  6. 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.
  7. After you’ve been conditionally approved, complete Ascent’s financial literacy module along with your cosigner.
  8. Review and sign your loan documents before submitting them.

Step-by-step application with screenshots

What happens after I apply?

Once you’ve filled out the required fields hit Submit. 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, complete Ascent’s financial literacy module along with your cosigner. 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 or companies when you apply for a loan. It uses CampusDoor to process your student loan application and funding can come from one of two places: Richland State Bank or Turnstile Capital Management. Turnstile is also a subsidiary of GS2, like Ascent.

Ascent also uses a loans servicer, University Accounting Services (UAS) to handle repayments. If you have any questions about repayment, including deferment or forbearance, reach out to UAS by calling (800) 999-6227 — 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 GS2

Ascent is new to the student loan market. Its subsidiary 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 2017 and the San Diego Union-Tribune’s 2016 Top Workplaces.

Bottom line

Ascent student loans are generally a better deal if you apply with a cosigner. It’s best for college students that have used up their federal loans and are looking for a private loan with some flexibility in repayment. Want to learn about more lenders? Visit our student loans guide to compare rates and find out how student loans work.

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