Ascent is a student-focused lender that allows you to take out a student loan with either a cosigner or independently if you meet certain criteria. Not only can you finance your college or graduate education, you can also start building credit in your own name. And with some unique perks, including a 1% cash back reward for graduating, Ascent is a strong contender to consider for your student loan needs.

Ascent

Student Loan Application Requirements

Ascent analyzes a wide variety of information when considering your student loan application. In addition to your credit score, they also factor in things that are a little less objective. For instance, they’ll weigh information like your school, program, graduation date, major, cost of attendance and more.

When taking out an Ascent loan, you could qualify to borrow anything from $2,000 to $200,000. You must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at least half-time in order to be eligible to apply.

Ascent also has some mild credit restrictions for borrowers and/or cosigners. When applying for a cosigned loan, the student must have at least a 600 credit score. Solo students and cosigners must have a minimum credit score of a 660. If you’re a solo student applicant, you’ll also need at least two years of credit history with trade lines other than a student loan. This can be anything from a car loan to a credit card.

Both cosigners and solo students must earn at least $24,000 annually with continuous employment over the last two years. These applicants must also meet an undisclosed monthly debt-to-income ratio.

Types of Student Loans Available

Ascent offers borrowers two student loan types: cosigned loans and non-cosigned loans. Here are the details of each one to see what you could potentially qualify for.

Cosigned Student Loans

A cosigned student loan from Ascent covers both tuition and eligible living expenses. Non-U.S. citizens may apply if your cosigner is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident with strong credit; otherwise, you’ll need to be a U.S. citizen to apply.

Cosigner release is available after you’ve made on-time payments in full for 24 consecutive months. You must also qualify for all of the provisions of an independent student loan through Ascent and sign up for automatic debit payments.

Non-Cosigned Student Loans

Ascent’s Non-Cosigned student loans are designed specifically for full-time juniors, seniors, and graduate students. You must be a U.S. citizen for this type of loan; if you’re not, consider applying for the cosigner loan along with an eligible citizen. Finally, all non-cosigned student loan borrowers must maintain a GPA of at least a 2.5 throughout the course of your enrollment. The maximum loan amount per academic year is $20,000 for this non-cosigned, non-credit tested loan option.

You may qualify for a lower amount compared to those applying with a cosigner. Apply early to get the funds you need on time and in order to plan for any additional tuition gaps you may have.

Building a positive credit history early on can set you up for financial success after you graduate. You could potentially propel yourself to qualifying for better rates when you’re ready to take out a car loan, refinance your student loans, or apply for credit cards. Consider it a head start on grown up stuff after you graduate.

Fees and Rates

Regardless of which loan type you choose, Ascent never charges any application fees, origination fees, disbursement fees, or prepayment penalties. You can elect to receive a fixed rate or variable rate, although the range differs slightly depending on whether you take out a cosigned loan or independent loan.

With a variable rate loan, your rate can change every month. Carefully check your loan terms and conditions to find out what your variable APR is based on and whether or not there’s a maximum. This can help you plan better for your monthly payments so you’re not caught off guard by a sudden jump.

You can check to see what your monthly payments look like based on your APR and chosen loan term. While you may be tempted by lower rates with an adjustable loan, there’s definitely risk involved if interest rates continue to rise. A fixed rate, on the other hand, gives you the stability of the same payment each and every month.

Ascent’s Student Loan Process

You can see if you’re eligible to apply for an Ascent student loan in under a minute. Start off by answering a few questions to determine if you’re eligible to apply. Once you do, you’ll receive a loan offer to compare with other financing options you may have.

Ascent also offers several options for repayment:

  • In-school interest only: if you’re enrolled at least half-time, you can qualify to make interest-only payments
  • Deferred Payment: Wait until up to six months after you leave school to start making student loan payments
  • $25 Minimum Payment: While enrolled at least half-time, you can pick your own monthly payment amount if it’s at least $25

Note that interest starts to accrue as soon as loan funds are disbursed, regardless of which repayment option you choose. So even if you defer payments, your loan balance will grow while you’re attending school.

If possible, it could be a good choice to pay as much as you can while in school in order to keep your loan balance as low as possible. That will result in lower monthly payments when you graduate. If you don’t make any interest payments, you may be unpleasantly surprised by higher monthly payments after your grace period.

Special Features

Automatic Payment Discount. If you elect to sign up for autopay with your Ascent student loan, you’ll receive a 0.25% discount on your interest rate. This helps lower your monthly payments and also reduces the overall cost of your student loan.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward – When you graduate from your degree program, you may be eligible to receive a cashback reward amounting to 1% of your original principal balance. For example, if your original loan amount was $10,000 then you would receive $100 from Ascent.

NEW Graduated Repayment Options Makes Lower Initial Payments More Affordable – Upon graduation, borrowers may be eligible for the Graduated Repayment option in which borrowers can pay less initially with an increasing monthly amount until the final payment. Upon graduation, borrowers may be eligible for the Graduated Repayment option. The Graduated Repayment option requires monthly payment amounts that start with an amount that is less than a fully-amortizing payment amount that step-up over time such that the loan would be fully paid within the original loan term.

Ascent Refer A Friend Program: If you want to earn extra money, you can get up to $600 per year by referring friends to Ascent. For every friend you refer who applies for a loan and is approved, you’ll get a $100 gift card. You can use that gift card to pay for gas, groceries, or other living expenses, or even save it to pay for books next semester. Click here to learn more.

Ascent $50,000 Summer Scholarship Giveaway: Ascent is giving away $1,000 a day for 50 days through August 27, 2019. No essay required, just enter on Ascent’s social media. Students 18+ can enter multiple times. Click here for details and official rules.

There are some requirements you must meet, such as graduating within five years from the time you took out the loan. Just remember that you must be the one to initiate the cash back request.

Financial Education – Ascent partners with iGrad to offer students a basic guide to financial literacy. You gain access to the course after submitting your student loan application in order to better understand how your loan can impact your credit and overall finances.

U.S. Based Customer Service – Ascent is committed to helping you every step of the way through your student loan process. You can call or email to speak with the customer service team who is exclusively based in the U.S.

Deferment Options – In addition to in-school deferment, borrowers can also defer loan payments due to active military duty (up to 36 months) or a qualifying residency or internship (up to 48 months). Note that deferment does lengthen your repayment period. Interest also continues to accrue while you’re in a period of deferment.

Forbearance Options. Ascent also allows for two types of forbearance. The first is temporary hardship forbearance, which you can use for up to 48 months throughout the life of the loan. The minimum period is one month and you must reapply every three months.

The second type is administrative forbearance, which occurs during borrower disputes or while awaiting bankruptcy or death documents. Unpaid interest continues to accumulate during either type of forbearance.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a private student lender to help cover gaps in your financial aid package, Ascent is a strong contender. With options for loans with cosigners as well as solo student borrowers, there are plenty of opportunities to start building your credit early on in your college career.

Plus, the generous 1% cash back reward gives you added incentive to graduate as soon as possible. Ascent also offers better-than-average deferment and forbearance options for a private student lender.