Ascent Student Loans Review: Best for Students Without a Cosigner

Ascent Student Loans Review: Best for Students Without a Cosigner

Ascent is one of the best options for student loan borrowers who have little credit history and no co-signer, as it offers borrowers independent student loans.

Good for

  • Borrowers without a co-signer
  • 1% cash-back graduation reward

Bad for

  • Independent loans are not available to freshman and sophomore students
  • Borrowers with bad credit

Editor's Rating

4.0/5.0

Ascent is the only lender that offers a student loan specifically for students without a co-signer. Instead of looking solely at your credit score, the lender considers your major, graduation date and cost of attendance. Ascent also offers a traditional student loan for borrowers who need a co-signer or are creditworthy enough to qualify on their own.

Ascent Student Loans Review

For borrowers without a co-signer and little credit history, Ascent may be your best option as it offers an independent student loan specifically for borrowers like you. Most lenders don't require students to apply with a co-signer but highly recommend it, as most students lack enough credit history to qualify. On the other hand, Ascent looks at more than just your credit history to determine your loan eligibility, including your major, school, graduation date and earning potential.

The major drawback to getting a loan with Ascent is the rates the lender offers. For students with a co-signer or sufficient credit history, the lender's rates only make sense for borrowers with good credit, as its upper bound of rates are some of the highest we've seen, reaching more than 14%. Otherwise, the lender is standard in terms of its repayment plans, deferment and forbearance policies. So, if you're like most borrowers looking for the best rates, there are other student lenders to consider with both lower starting rates and maximum rates.

Who Can Qualify for Ascent Student Loans?

Ascent's Tuition Student Loan is available to undergraduate and graduate borrowers, while the lender's Independent Student Loan is only available to juniors, seniors and graduate students with a 2.5 GPA or greater. Co-signers and borrowers who apply for the tuition loan on their own are required to have a credit score of 680 or above and a gross annual income of at least $24,000. However, independent student loan eligibility considers many factors in addition to credit history, including major, cost of attendance, graduation date and school.

Credit score680 or higher
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 24 on-time payments
Accepted citizenship status
  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident alien
  • Non-U.S. citizen with U.S. citizen/permanent resident alien co-signer
Part-time studentsYes
Eligible schoolsTitle IV public and private institutions

Ascent Student Loans Rates, Terms and Fees

If you have bad credit, Ascent is not a good option for you, as it has some of the highest rates we've seen. Students must apply for at least $2,000 and can only borrow up to $200,000 in loans, including federal and private loans, to qualify for Ascent's student loans. Students can choose from three loan terms and Ascent has no fees, besides a late fee that ranges from $5 to $25.

Ascent Tuition Student Loan Features

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$2,000 - $200,000 (All loans included)
APR range
  • 5.70% - 14.75% Fixed rate
  • 3.97% - 12.97% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: 5% of payment
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 5, 10 or 15 years

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with autopay

Ascent's Independent Student Loan has much higher starting rates than its Tuition Student Loan, with fixed rates starting at 7.21% and variable rates at 5.64%. Students can only choose from two loan terms, having the option of 10 or 15 years to repay their loan. Similar to the Tuition Loan, there are also no fees associated with this loan besides the late fee.

Ascent Independent Student Loan Features

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$2,000 - $200,000 (All loans included)
APR range
  • 7.21% - 13.91% Fixed rate
  • 5.64% - 12.94% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: 5% of payment
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 10 or 15 years

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with autopay

How to Repay Your Student Loans

Ascent only offers deferred repayment for its Independent Loan and three different repayment plans for its Tuition Loan: interest-only, $25 minimum payment and deferred repayment. With these options, you can choose to pay only the interest, a $25 monthly payment while in school or wait until after you complete school to pay off your loans. The majority of students defer their student loan payments until after graduation, but you can decrease your loan amount by starting to pay down the balance while in school.

Deferment and Forbearance

Ascent will only let you defer repayment while in school for up to 60 months. And like most lenders, the loan company gives borrowers a grace period of six months after leaving school before repayment starts. Borrowers may request other deferments in writing. If you can't make your loan payments, Ascent allows you up to 24 months in total of forbearance if you have a temporary hardship or need administrative forbearance.

Permitted DefermentsLimit
Grace period upon leaving school or falling below half-time status6 months

To be allowed forbearance, you must have a qualifying financial situation. You can declare forbearance for a minimum of one month to a maximum of three months and you may apply for up to four consecutive periods of temporary hardship forbearance.

ForbearanceLimit
Permitted PeriodUp to 24 months
ConditionsMust be experiencing financial hardship, unemployment, excessive debt burden or medical disability.

How Does Ascent Compare to Other Student Lenders?

Compared to other student lenders, Ascent stands out because it offers specific loans for borrowers without a co-signer. However, Ascent has higher rates than online lenders like CommonBond and has some of the highest upper bound of rates we've seen for borrowers with low credit scores.

AscentCommonBondDiscover
Loan types offered
  • Private student loan
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
APR range*
  • 5.70% - 14.75% Fixed
  • 3.97% - 12.97% Variable
  • 5.30% - 9.82% Fixed
  • 3.72% - 9.68% Variable
  • 5.99% - 13.99% Fixed
  • 3.99% - 12.99% Variable
Loan amount$2,000 - $200,000 (All loans included)$5,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses$1,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses ($120,000 max with other financial aid)
In-school repayment optionsInterest-only, fixed payment or deferredImmediate, interest-only, fixed payment or deferredIn-School or Deferred
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 24 on-time paymentsYes, release permitted after 36 on-time paymentsYes, release not permitted

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with autopay

Ascent vs CommonBond

Unlike Ascent, CommonBond will cover up to 100% of school expenses and offers students better rates than Ascent, both on the high and low end. Rates from CommonBond reach 9.82%, while Ascent's fixed rates go up to 14.75%, which is close to a 5-point difference in interest. Ascent would only be the better student loan option if you cannot find a co-signer, you don't have enough credit history and you qualify for the lender's independent student loan. Otherwise, CommonBond is the better option for most borrowers as it provides more reasonable student loan rates with similar loan repayment plans to Ascent.

Ascent vs Discover

Discover is a great option for borrowers who may need repayment assistance after graduating or leaving college. The company works to help struggling borrowers by offering a longer grace period, payment extensions, early repayment assistance and reduced payment options. In comparison, Ascent has a six-month grace period upon leaving school and a 24-month forbearance limit, which is better than most lenders that allow only 12 months of forbearance. Ascent also offers lower starting rates for borrowers with great credit history but higher rates than Discover for borrowers with bad credit. If you have great credit history, you should look for lenders other than Ascent or Discover to see if you qualify for even lower rates.

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