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Student Loans

Ascent Student Loans: An In-Depth Review

1% Graduation Cash Back Reward

4.3 /5
LendEDU Rating
Private Student Loans
  • Cosigned and non-cosigned student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training
  • DACA and international students may be eligible 
  • 1% cash back upon graduation
  • Choose to start making payments now or after leaving school
  • Check your prequalified rates with no impact on your credit score
  • Doesn’t offer student loans for parents
Rates (APR)4.09%16.08% (cosigned)
8.85%15.20% (no cosigner)
Loan amounts$2,001 – $200,000
Repayment terms5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
Min. credit score540

Ascent Funding, founded in 2015, is a private student loan lender with a mission to revolutionize how you fund your higher education. It aims to break down the financial barriers to education by providing access to affordable loans and valuable resources.

Ascent offers a range of student loan products for undergraduates, graduates, and career-focused students. Its products serve various students—from those with established credit histories to those without cosigners or credit. 

It tailors its loan options to meet students’ unique needs and situations, including DACA students and international students with an eligible cosigner.

How does Ascent work?

Navigating Ascent’s loan process is straightforward, with loans granted based on creditworthiness or potential future income, depending on the type of loan applied for.

Borrowing amounts are determined by the cost of attendance minus any financial aid received. Ascent disburses funds to the school, covering tuition, fees, and other eligible educational expenses. 

Borrowers generally need one loan per academic year, which can cover both semesters.

Rates, terms, and fees

Compared to other student loan companies, Ascent’s undergraduate student loan rates, terms, and fees are competitive. Borrowers who apply with a cosigner will find they are eligible for lower interest rates than those applying without one, as shown in the table below.

FeatureDetails
Fixed rates (APR)4.48%15.27% with a cosigner
9.46%15.52% without a cosigner
Variable rates (APR)5.98%15.63% with a cosigner
9.87%15.88% without a cosigner
Rate discounts0.25% autopay discount
Loan amounts$2,001 – $200,000
Repayment terms5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
Grace period9 months
Cosigner releaseAfter 12 consecutive, on-time payments
FeesLate payment fee

Ascent offers several borrower benefits worth noting:

  • 1% cash back upon graduation. Ascent provides borrowers with a reward of 1% of their loan amount upon graduation after meeting certain criteria. The amount is sent electronically to your bank account.
  • Scholarships. Every year, Ascent awards more than $80,000 in scholarships to student applicants, including $1,000 summer giveaways from June to August, a $1,000 financial wellness scholarship, and a $1,000 money Mindfulness scholarship.
  • Repayment assistance options. Several assistance options are available, including deferment, forbearance, and a discharge policy. A progressive repayment option allows you to reduce your monthly payment to make it more affordable, and then gradually increase it over time so you still pay your loan off in your original term.
  • Student success coaching. Undergraduate borrowers have one-on-one access to a success coach for one year. The coach can help things like choosing a major, budgeting, and resume advice.
  • Cashback rewards. The Ascent Rewards program allows you to earn cash back on purchases with partnered retailers that can be applied to student loan payments.
  • Refer a friend program. Existing borrowers can earn money for referring a friend to Ascent Funding. You get $25 when a friend’s loan is approved and $500 when the loan is funded and disbursed. Your friend also earns $100 for participating in the program upon funding and disbursal.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Ascent caters to a wide range of undergraduate borrowers, including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, DACA recipients, and even international students provided they have a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident. 

Cosigners, however, aren’t always necessary. Borrowers with more than two years of credit history and who meet certain financial requirements can secure a loan without a cosigner. 

Ascent doesn’t specify how many borrowers have a cosigner, but having a cosigner may increase the likelihood of approval and a lower interest rate.

RequirementDetails
CitizenshipU.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or DACA status with a valid Social Security number

Non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents may apply if they have eligible resident status and a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
State of residenceAll 50 states
Minimum age18 in every state except Alabama and Nebraska (19), and Mississippi and Puerto Rico (21)
Enrolled schoolSchool must be one of 2,200+ eligible schools
Enrollment statusAt least half-time in a degree program at an eligible institution
Minimum credit score580
Minimum income$24,000/year

How does repayment work?

Ascent’s repayment options are comparable to competitors in the industry. You can choose from three in-school repayment plans: 

  • Deferred repayment, where payments start after graduation
  • $25 minimum repayment, allowing you to gradually decrease your loan balance
  • Interest-only repayment, helping to manage accruing interest while in school.

Ascent offers five repayment terms for its credit-based undergraduate loans, ranging from five to 15 years. You commit to the repayment term when you apply for the loan, although there is no penalty for early repayment

The progressive payment option is also available in case you need to reduce monthly payments and gradually increase them to still pay your loan off within the loan’s term.

Bear in mind the length of your repayment term affects the overall cost of your loan. Longer terms typically result in lower monthly payments but higher overall costs due to accumulated interest. 

For example, consider a loan of $20,000 with a fixed interest rate of 6%. Here’s how the repayment might break down for different repayment terms:

Repayment termMonthly paymentTotal interest paidTotal repaid
5 years$386.66$3,199.60$23,199.60
7 years$287.50$4,420.00$24,420.00
10 years$222.04$6,644.80$26,644.80
12 years$194.12$7,931.52$27,931.52
15 years$168.30$10,294.00$30,294.00

This table illustrates that while a longer repayment term results in lower monthly payments, it also increases the overall cost of the loan due to paying more interest over the life of the loan. Opting for a shorter term could save you money in the long run.

How can Ascent improve its private student loan?

Ascent’s loan offerings provide valuable resources for many students, but there’s always room for improvement to increase competitiveness and offer better service to borrowers.

  • In-school repayment options: Unlike some competitors, such as Sallie Mae, Ascent only offers three in-school repayment options on most of its loans and does not include an option for full payments while in school for college loans. This potential enhancement could provide greater flexibility and the opportunity to lower the overall loan cost.
  • Income-based loan repayment: While it’s commendable that Ascent offers an outcomes-based loan option, expanding this feature to include more flexible repayment options could better serve borrowers with variable or uncertain income. Competitors including Edly have set the bar by offering income-based repayment plans, providing a possible model for Ascent to follow.
  • Interest rate disclosure for career loans: Transparency is a key factor for many borrowers. Competitors such as College Ave disclose their interest rates for career loans, setting an industry standard for openness. By doing the same, Ascent could give prospective borrowers a clearer picture of what to expect.

How have Ascent private student loans evolved over the years?

Over the years, Ascent has introduced new features and benefits, adapting its offerings to better meet the needs of its borrowers. Notable milestones include:

  • 2019—Progressive repayment option: In an innovative move, Ascent introduced the progressive repayment option. This option allows borrowers to start with lower monthly payments that increase over time, ensuring the loan is paid off within the original loan term.
  • 2021—Expanded access and discount opportunities: Recognizing the need for inclusivity, Ascent expanded its loan eligibility to include DACA students. It also began offering outcome-based loan borrowers the opportunity to prequalify and earn a 1.00% autopay discount, contributing to a more user-friendly experience.
  • 2023—Discharge process established: In a significant development, Ascent established a discharge process for new college loans originated on or after June 5, 2023. This process allows a borrower or cosigner to obtain a discharge without needing to demonstrate “undue hardship.” Discharge can occur after making 60 regularly scheduled full principal and interest payments or being in default for five years, and meeting other requirements.

Ascent’s ongoing evolution is a testament to its commitment to meeting the changing needs of its student borrowers.

How do Ascent private student loans compare to other lenders?

For a comprehensive view of how Ascent’s private student loans stack up against the competition, here is a comparison of Ascent, SoFi, Earnest, and Sallie Mae:

AscentEarnestSallie Mae
Our rating4.34.74.8
Rates (APR)2.71%12.99%4.43%15.90%4.50%14.83%
Min. funding$1,000$1,000$1,000
Max. funding$200,000100% total costs100% total costs
Repayment terms5 – 15 years5 – 15 years10 – 15 years
Grace period9 months9 months6 months
View RatesView RatesView Rates

Comparison of undergraduate student loans.

Is Ascent a reputable lender?

SourceCustomer ratingNumber of reviews
TrustpilotN/A0
Google4.9 out of 5195
Better Business Bureau1 out of 51

Collected on June 28, 2023.

Ascent doesn’t have any reviews on the consumer review platform Trustpilot. However, on Google, it has a stellar average rating of 4.9 out of 5 based on 195 reviews. Many customers praise the company for its scholarships, easy application process, and helpful customer service. 

On the flip side, Ascent’s rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) site stands at one out of five based on just one review. The reviewer expressed concerns about a lack of transparency in loan terms. It’s worth noting that the BBB also records two closed complaints in the past three years. The details of these complaints aren’t published, so it’s hard to assess their significance.

While these reviews give a snapshot of customer experiences with Ascent, it’s important to approach them with a balanced view. High praise on Google suggests customer satisfaction, but the negative review and closed complaints on the BBB highlight the importance of carefully reading and understanding loan terms before committing.

Does Ascent have a customer service team?

Ascent has a 100% U.S.-based customer service team that is ready to assist you every step of the way with your loan process and beyond. Whether you have a question or need support, you can reach Ascent’s team through multiple channels:

  • Phone: Call at 877-216-0876 (toll-free) Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time
  • Email: Reach out to [email protected].
  • Online Account: Check your status anytime by logging in to your account at college.ascentfunding.com.

In addition, Ascent collaborates with Launch Servicing, which services all Ascent loans. This partnership aims to simplify the loan servicing process and make repayment as effortless as possible. Here’s how you can get in touch with Launch Servicing:

  • Phone: Dial 877-209-5297 toll-free from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central time.
  • Email: Write to [email protected].
  • Online Portal: Log in to the repayment portal.
  • Mobile App: Manage your account from anywhere using the AscentConnect mobile app. Available for download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, you can log in using the same credentials as your Ascent account.

How to apply for an Ascent private student loan

Applying for an Ascent student loan is straightforward and user-friendly, with a clear, convenient step-by-step process. Ascent’s application process makes it seamless to secure educational funding. 

The steps to apply for a student loan with Ascent include:

1. Prequalification 

The first step allows you to check your rates without hurting your credit score. This involves providing information such as your name, address, date of birth, the school you’re attending, and employment details. 

If you’re applying with a cosigner, they will also need to input their information.

Ascent application screenshot

If you agree to the prequalified rates shown, you’ll complete your full application.

2. Select repayment

Upon the approval of your completed loan application, Ascent presents you with various repayment options. At this stage, you can select the loan terms that best align with your financial situation and repayment capacity.

3. Complete Ascent portal tasks

After choosing your loan terms, you’ll be directed to your Ascent portal, where you’ll find specific tasks to complete. These tasks may include a financial wellness quiz and providing additional information to finalize your loan.

4. Disbursement to your school

Once all tasks in the portal are completed, Ascent sends your loan for school certification. After certification, it disburses the funds to your school.

What if I’m denied a private student loan from Ascent?

You could be denied a student loan from Ascent for various reasons, such as insufficient credit history, a low credit score, or not meeting the income requirements. Depending on your situation, here’s what you can do:

  • If your denial is due to insufficient credit history or a low credit score, consider reapplying with a cosigner. Having a cosigner with a strong credit score can improve your chances of approval. We have also identified other lenders, such as Sallie Mae, that work well for cosigners.
  • If you’re a junior or senior, Ascent offers the outcomes-based loan. This loan doesn’t require a cosigner and factors in more than just your credit score. 
  • If the loan amount you require is higher than Ascent is willing to lend, consider SoFi or Earnest, which typically offer higher loan amounts.
  • Apply for scholarships. This can help reduce the total amount you need to borrow and open up more lending options.

Remember, many lenders are available in the market. It’s always worthwhile to shop around and find the best private student loan to suit your needs. 

How we rated Ascent student loans

We compared Ascent to 18 student loan lenders offering undergraduate, graduate, and career-training student loans. Its editorial rating for each student loan reflects how it compared to similar products.

We considered rates, repayment terms, fees, unique benefits, and more.

Ascent FAQ

Does Ascent offer private or federal student loans?

Ascent offers private student loans. Unlike federal student loans, which are issued by the government, these loans are offered by Ascent and come with unique terms and eligibility criteria.

Does applying with Ascent hurt my credit?

When you initially apply with Ascent to check your rates, it carries out a soft credit inquiry, which doesn’t affect your credit score. However, if you decide to move forward with the loan, Ascent will perform a hard credit inquiry, which could lower your score.

Does Ascent require a cosigner?

Ascent doesn’t require a cosigner but often recommends it for students with limited credit history or income. A cosigner can increase your chances of loan approval and might help secure a lower interest rate.

Does Ascent allow cosigners to be released?

Yes, Ascent allows you to apply for the release of cosigners from the loan after making 12 on-time principal and interest payments, meeting credit requirements, and enrolling in autopay.

What can Ascent student loans be used for?

You can use Ascent student loans to cover a range of educational expenses. This includes tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and other school-related costs.

How long does it take to receive funds from Ascent?

The timeline for disbursement can vary based on how long it takes your school to certify your loan. Ascent recommends contacting your school’s financial aid office to find out how long the certification process takes, as each school’s certification process may vary. 

Can Ascent student loans be forgiven?

Ascent does not offer any specific loan forgiveness programs. Unlike federal student loans, which may qualify for various loan forgiveness options, Ascent expects its borrowers to repay the full loan amount.

Borrowers and cosigners of Ascent loans originated on or after June 5, 2023, are eligible for discharge process that doesn’t require showing “undue hardship.” To do this, you must make 60 full payments or be in default for five years and meet various other conditions, including listing the loan in a bankruptcy petition and obtaining a court order granting discharge. 

Recap of our Ascent student loans review

Student loanOur rating
Private student loan4.3View Rates