College is expensive. But college loans can be a great way to get that education you need to land your dream job. The good news is, it’s never been easier to get a great rate on a loan. Services like Ascent Loans let you apply online and land a competitive rate that will help you keep the interest you’ll pay to a minimum.
What is Ascent Student Loans?
Once you’ve settled on a college, it’s time to start figuring out how you’ll pay for it. First, you’ll need to apply for financial aid and look for scholarships and grants. Once you’ve lined up that form of financing, it’s time to take a look at student loans to pay the rest.
Ascent Student Loans offers credit-based student loans to undergraduate and graduate students. You can either apply alone or with a cosigner, with the latter helping you if you’re still trying to build credit.
But what really sets Ascent apart is the fact that you can land a loan based on your future income. Instead of using a cosigner, those without a credit history can take this option. You’ll need to be a junior or senior, and information like your GPA, school, major, and tuition costs will be used to determine your loan eligibility.
Ascent provides flexible options to pay for college, with or without a cosigner.
With an Ascent loan, you can pay for college, graduate school or even a career certificate program like a coding bootcamp.
- No cosigner required loan options
- Resources to help get internships and jobs
- Loans for bootcamps
- Non-cosigned loans have higher APRs
How does Ascent Student Loans work?
To see the rates you personally will qualify for, simply go to the website and either click “Apply Now” or “Get Started”. Both options take you to the same form. Completing this application won’t obligate you to take out a loan through Ascent. Checking your rate also won’t impact your credit score.
For fixed rates, you’ll see a rate ranging from 4.13% – 15.46%* for undergraduate student loans and 5.05% – 14.56% for graduate student loans. And for variable rates, the APR is between 6.17% – 16.11%* for undergraduate student loans and 6.70% – 15.21% for graduate student loans
If you aren’t 18 years of age, or you don’t have a credit history, you may opt to input information on your cosigner. Otherwise, choose that you’re the student.
Next, you’ll be asked to provide some information on the school you plan to attend, including the degree you’re pursuing and your major.
If you haven’t declared a major yet, don’t worry. Just choose “Other” and “Undeclared” from the drop-down boxes.
You’ll then be asked some information about yourself, including your name, email address, Social Security number, permanent address, and whether you pay rent or have a mortgage.
In the final step, Ascent will gather some information on the loan amount you want. You’ll need an estimate of the financial aid you’ll be receiving, so make sure you have that data on hand before you start.
Ascent can only help you pay for one academic year at a time, so make sure you know the cost of yearly tuition, minus your anticipated financial aid, before you check rates.
Ascent will crunch the numbers and let you know whether you qualify for a loan. If you don’t qualify, applying with a cosigner could get you the loan you need.
Pricing for Ascent Student Loans
The interest you pay will be tailored to your own credit, repayment options, and other factors including whether it’s an undergraduate or graduate student loan.
There’s no application fee, and the only fee disclosed during the application process was a 5% late payment fee with a minimum of $5 and a maximum of $25. There’s also a returned payment fee of $25. You can save money by setting up autopay, which gives you a small discount on your interest.
Undergraduate student loans
The variable APR is between 6.17% – 16.11%* for undergraduate student loans; the fixed APR rates range from 4.13% – 15.46%*.
Graduate student loans
The variable APR is between 6.70% – 15.21% for graduate student loans; the fixed APR rate ranges from 5.05% – 14.56%.
Note that Ascent’s graduate student loan benefits include students pursuing business (MBA), dental (DMD, DDS), law (JD, LLM), medical (MD, DO, DVM, VMD, DPM) or graduate degrees (MA, MS, PhD).
Ascent Student Loans features
There are plenty of options when it comes to online student loans. Here are a few features that make Ascent stand out.
No credit history necessary
One issue students face in lining up student loans is a lack of credit history. Like many lenders, Ascent allows you to apply with a cosigner, but not everyone wants to go that route.
With Ascent, you can qualify based on your future earnings potential, as long as you’re at least a junior. If you use a cosigner, you can release the cosigner from the loan after only 12 consecutive on-time payments. That’s a luxury not often granted by other lenders.
You’ll pay no fees with Ascent, from the time you apply to the time you begin repaying the loan. There are also no prepayment penalties, so you can pay your loan off at your own pace.
Ascent gives you a variety of options for paying off your loans. Depending on the type of loan, you can choose to repay your loan in 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years. You’ll also have a nine-month grace period after graduation before you have to begin making payments.
Tuition and expenses
Provided you qualify, you can take a loan that covers 100% of your tuition and your living expenses for the entirety of your college life. However, this is limited to $400,000.
My experience researching Ascent Student Loans
Once you’ve submitted the application, you’ll know immediately if you qualified for a loan. I was able to log into the site and view my application status even though I didn’t complete the application process. If you’re turned down based on your own credit, you’ll immediately get an invitation to add a cosigner. I appreciated this since many lenders would just deny you outright.
The dashboard helps you manage your application process. You can see, at a glance, what action you need to take next.
Once approved, you’ll be able to see all your loan details on that same dashboard. This includes your first payment due date, the monthly payments you can expect, and the repayment term and interest type that apply to your loan.
You can also modify your loan application at any time directly within your online account, which I found especially helpful.
Once you’re ready to start making payments on your loan, Ascent will redirect you to Launch Servicing, where you’ll set up an account to manage your automatic payments. By setting up automatic payments, you’ll qualify for an interest rate discount of at least 0.25%.
Who is Ascent Student Loans best for?
Many college students still need to build a credit score. Ascent can help with this by qualifying you either based on your potential future earnings or with the help of a cosigner. If you opt for a cosigner, make sure you take the cosigner off the account after you’ve made 12 consecutive on-time payments.
Those with good credit
You don’t need to fall in the “excellent” range on your credit score to qualify for an Ascent loan without a cosigner. Ascent requires a credit rating that falls in the “good” range, so it’s worth checking to see the interest rate they’ll quote you.
If you like to pay your pills via autopay, it’s important to note that Ascent will reward you for that. Undergrads will get a discount of 0.25% on the lowest offered rate and a 1.00% discount on the highest offered interest rate. Grad students will also enjoy an autopay discount of 0.25%.
Who shouldn’t use Ascent Student Loans?
Those looking for fixed rates
Ascent has great variable rates, but if you’re looking for fixed, you may want to compare the repayment terms of competitors. Ascent’s terms are more limited for fixed-rate loans. You’ll get terms of up to 20 years on variable loans and up to 15 years with a fixed-rate loan.
To qualify for an Ascent loan, you’ll need to be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. If you don’t plan to keep a steady schedule in the next academic year, you’ll have to wait until you’re ready to enroll at least part-time.
Pros & cons
- Future income loans — Juniors and seniors may qualify for a loan based on their future income potential.
- Flexible repayment — In addition to a nine-month grace period after graduation, you can choose from a wide variety of terms.
- Loans for tuition and expenses — You can get loans of up to $400,000 to pay all of your tuition and living expenses.
- Good credit required — Unless you’re using a cosigner, freshmen and sophomores will need a good – excellent credit score.
- 12-month limit on fixed-rate terms — Although Ascent offers repayment terms of up to 20 years for variable-rate loans, they only go to 12 years if your APR is fixed.
Ascent vs Credible
Credible offers a variety of loan types that include student loans and student loan refinancing. Unlike Ascent, Credible doesn’t offer loans directly. Instead, it shops your information around to a variety of lenders and provides multiple quotes. This process takes only a couple of minutes.
Credible is an 100% free to use aggregator that checks personalized rates from multiple lenders to help find a loan that works best for you, with options for many different college and university degrees to fit your goals.
Rates starting at 4.11% fixed APR (with autopay)* and 4.98% Var. APR (with autopay) See Terms*.
- 100% free to use, done online
- Partners have no origination fees or prepayment penalties
- Credible Private Student Loans Best Rate Guarantee (Terms Apply)
- Limited opportunities shared based on prequalification
Once you have your list of quotes, you can review the terms being offered to choose the best value. Credible’s loans can kick in to cover all school-certified costs after your financial aid has been subtracted from those expenses. Your lender will let you borrow the amount your school says it costs to enroll and attend classes.
» MORE: Read our full Credible review
Ascent vs Earnest
Earnest prides itself on keeping interest rates low. Like Ascent, Earnest offers a discount if you set up autopay. You can also add a cosigner if you can’t qualify for the loan on your own. Unlike Ascent, though, you can’t get a loan based on your future earnings potential.
With Earnest, your repayment terms will depend on whether you’re using a cosigner. Without a cosigner, your loan will need to be paid back within five to seven years. You’ll have up to 15 years if you use a cosigner.
» MORE: Read our full Earnest review
It’s an unfortunate reality that most college students will need to take out student loans. But that doesn’t mean you need to go with the first option you see. There are many progressive lenders out there, including Ascent.
You can apply through Ascent and see your loan rates in a matter of minutes and decide whether the rate you’re offered works for you.