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Student Loans

Sallie Mae vs. Ascent: Student Loan Comparison

When it comes to taking out private student loans, shopping around can pay off. Private lenders you aren’t familiar with might offer some of the lowest rates and most flexible terms you’ll find.

Sallie Mae is one of the oldest names in student loans, while Ascent is a newer company. Let’s compare their rates, terms, eligibility requirements, and other criteria to see how the two compare.

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Rates (APR) 4.50% – 16.78% 4.29%16.76%
Rates (APR) Rates (APR)
4.50% – 16.78% 4.29%16.76%
Loan amounts $1,000 – 100% of certified costs $2,001 – $200,000
Loan amounts Loan amounts
$1,000 – 100% of certified costs $2,001 – $200,000
Repayment terms 10 – 15 years 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years
Repayment terms Repayment terms
10 – 15 years 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years

What do Sallie Mae and Ascent offer?

Ascent is a private student loan lender that aims to provide access to affordable loans and valuable resources. It offers various loan products to students based on creditworthiness or potential future income, depending on the loan they need. You can use an Ascent loan for tuition, fees, and other eligible educational expenses.

Once a federal student loan lender, Sallie Mae now offers private student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and career training programs. It also offers loans to students based on their credit and approves many student borrowers with a cosigner.

Who is eligible for a student loan from Sallie Mae vs. Ascent?

Before applying for a student loan, be sure you understand the eligibility criteria. Every lender has unique requirements. 

Most lenders, including Sallie Mae and Ascent, have similar citizenship requirements, but Ascent offers more flexibility with no-cosigner options and accepts a wider range of citizenship statuses. Sallie Mae accepts students attending college less than half-time, but Ascent doesn’t. 

Read below to understand how Sallie Mae and Ascent’s requirements differ. 

Eligibility criteriaSallie MaeAscent
Min. income?None$24,000 / yr.
Cosigner needed (if you can’t meet reqs.)?YesNo
Citizenship requirementsU.S. citizen/perm. resident (or cosigner who is)All types of citizenship status are eligible

Temp. residents eligible w/ cosigner
AttendanceLoans avail. for full-, half-, & less-than-half-timeMust enroll at least half-time

Neither lender discloses a minimum required credit score.

If you need a cosigner, both lenders offer cosigner release after 12 months of consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments.

Does Sallie Mae or Ascent have better reviews and ratings?

When taking out a student loan, looking at customer reviews before selecting a lender is wise. Choosing a lender with stellar customer service reviews can help assure you it will be easier if something goes wrong, such as an issue transferring funds to your school or not applying payments correctly.

Review sourceAscentSallie Mae
TrustpilotN/A (0 reviews)1.4/5 (47 reviews)
Better Business Bureau1.0/5 (2 reviews)1.08/5 (128 reviews)
Google4.8/5 (220 reviews)1.4/5 (35 reviews)
Reviews collected on May 14, 20224.

Sallie Mae earns poor ratings on all platforms, whereas the only place where Ascent has a meaningful number of reviews is Google—and its average is impressive.

This could indicate that Ascent provides a better experience for customers than Sallie Mae.

Ascent vs. Sallie Mae – Scenarios where one is better 

When taking out a private student loan, you should consider several factors before choosing a lender. Read below to see when Sallie Mae or Ascent is a better option.

ScenarioWinner
You want a lower interest rateAscent
You don’t have a cosignerAscent
You’re a DACA studentAscent
You’re not enrolled at least half-timeSallie Mae
You need a long forbearance periodAscent

If you want a low interest rate

Ascent offers lower interest rates on its cosigner loans than Sallie Mae to the most qualified borrowers. Interest rates are among the most important factors when taking out a loan. The higher the rate, the more total interest you’ll pay. Higher interest rates can also result in higher monthly payments.

Winner

If you don’t have a cosigner

Almost all private lenders require a cosigner on a loan unless the borrower has a good credit score and steady income, but many students might not know an adult willing and able to cosign. Ascent designed its no-cosigner loans for these students.

Ascent does not require borrowers to have a cosigner to qualify for a private student loan, but Sallie Mae requires a cosigner if you don’t meet its income and credit score requirements.

Ascent charges higher interest rates for non-cosigned loans, but you may be able to refinance to a lower rate after graduation when you land a job.

Winner

If you’re a DACA student

Sallie Mae lets DACA students apply for a loan with a cosigner, but Ascent doesn’t require DACA students to have a cosigner to be eligible. They can still add a cosigner for the possibility of a lower interest rate, but it’s not required.

Winner

If you’re not enrolled half-time

Most lenders require that borrowers be at least half-time students to qualify for a student loan because those students are more likely to graduate and be able to repay their student loans.

Sallie Mae doesn’t require borrowers to be enrolled at least part-time to qualify for a student loan, but Ascent does. Sallie Mae is a better option if you’re only taking a couple of classes. This is perfect for borrowers returning to school who must take a few prerequisite courses or are still working full-time. 

Winner

If you need a long forbearance period

Ascent has a 24-month forbearance period, which is longer than almost any other private lender. If you lose your job, are furloughed, or incur other bills, you won’t need to make payments for up to 24 months. Interest will continue to accrue during this time, which is similar to other lenders. 

Winner

🧑‍⚖️ Which company is our choice between Sallie Mae and Ascent?

Ascent is more flexible, offering options for international, low-income, and no-credit student borrowers. So if you want to take advantage of lower interest rates, don’t have a cosigner, or need flexible repayment options and assistance, you may consider Ascent.

However, because of Sallie Mae’s high percentage of loan approvals and part-time enrollment requirements, you may consider it if you plan to apply with a cosigner or won’t attend school at least half-time.