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Ascent Review

Sunday, January 23rd

2022 Student Loan Provider Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Ascent Review 5 Star Rating

Ascent

5 Star Rating
  • Loans for undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Options for loans with or without a cosigner
  • No application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties
  • Competitive rates on both variable interest loans and fixed interest loans
  • Loan repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 and 20 years
  • Start repayments up to 9 months after graduation
  • Interest rate discounts with automatic payments
  • Deferment and forbearance options available
  • Cosigner release available after 24 months of on-time payments
  • "Bootcamp" loans available for accelerated learning programs
  • 1% cash back graduation reward for eligible borrowers
  • "A+" rated by the BBB
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Although Ascent is extremely new to the student loan marketplace, getting its start in 2018, the service has easily captured our first-place ranking. Both Forbes and Money named Ascent as their top choice for Private Student Loans, giving high praise to the service for affordable interest rates and fees, available loan terms, hardship options, loan eligibility requirements, and overall application processes. All student loans funded through Ascent are designed "to expand your possibilities, not limit them" - and that's a philosophy we can get behind.

Loans with or without a cosigner

Compared with other sources of student loans, Ascent has the widest range of options. There are three loan types to choose from:

  • Cosigned (credit-based): if you've got a "creditworthy cosigner" , you can get a loan with variable rates or fixed rates. These loans are available for both undergraduate and graduate programs, and to all students who are US citizens or DACA and international students as well.
  • Non-cosigned (credit-based): if you prefer a loan without a cosigner and have the income and credit to qualify, your variable rate and fixed rate loans will be slightly higher than a cosigned loan but still very competitive. These loans are also for both undergraduate and graduate programs, but eligibility is limited to US citizens, permanent residents, and DACA students (not international applicants).
  • Non-cosigned (outcomes-based): available only to undergraduate juniors and seniors, this loan has higher interest rates, but it allows those with at least a 2.9 GPA and no cosigner, income, or credit history to access funds.

Basic requirements to qualify

So, what are the overall eligibility requirements? It's tricky to find those specifics on the Ascent website, but with some digging here's what you'll learn. If you're taking out a loan with a cosigner, you'll need a minimum personal credit score of 540 if your cosigner's score is at least 740. If not, your own credit score will have to be 600+. Without a cosigner, you'll have to demonstrate at least two years of credit history and a score of 680+. For both types of credit-based loans, you'll need a minimum annual income of $24,000.

Very flexible loan repayments

Ascent offers plenty of flexibility with student loan repayments. If you're in school and you have a cosigned loan, you can defer your repayments until six months after graduation or if you start taking classes below the half-time threshold. Or, you can make a flat-fee repayment of $25/month while in school and/or through the six-month grace period. A third option is to make interest-only repayments until your grace period ends, which will probably save you the most money overall.

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Forbearance, graduated repayment available

On non-cosigned loans or ones taken out post-school, you have a grace period of nine months. Ascent offers a graduated repayment option for qualified borrowers, allowing for smaller payments at first and gradually increasing over the original loan term. If you've earned a Bachelor's degree and are accepted into a medical or dental residency, you can defer your payments for up to 24 months. Finally, forbearance is available for up to four periods of 1-3 months.

Cosigner release eligibility after 24 repayments

Similar to most student loans, Ascent's are forgiven if the student dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled. This doesn't apply if the cosigner dies or becomes disabled. And, you can apply to have your cosigner released after making the first 24 payments on time, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements (which are similar to those needed to apply for a non-cosigner loan).

Big money-saving perks here

Ascent has some perks you probably won't find with most rival student loan providers. You can get rate discounts of 0.25% on credit-based loans and 1% on non-cosigned loans when you have your repayments automatically debited from your bank account. And, Ascent offers a 1% cash back award when you graduate, provided you meet the criteria (proof of graduation, no loan refinancing, graduate within 5 years of the loan's first disbursement).

Best choice for all student loans

Across the board, experts and borrowers alike are raving about the student loan experience with Ascent. For almost every imaginable loan type - undergraduate, dental school, law school, MBA programs, and more - Ascent is regularly the highest-rated option. Students say that it's extremely easy to apply and to reach the US-based customer service team if they have questions or need help, that conditional loan approval is almost instantaneous and final approval typically happens within a week, and there are no nasty surprises when it comes time to start making repayments. For all of these reasons, Ascent earns our highest recommendation for all types of student loans.

Where Can You Find the Best Student Loans?

With 45% of high school graduates finding it necessary to take on student debt to finance their higher learning, that's an important question to answer. While most student loan debt comes from federal loans, some people discover that their government loans just aren't enough to cover the full costs of tuition, room and board, expensive textbooks, and everything else necessary for their college education.

If you find yourself in that situation - for your studies or your children's - you might get overwhelmed trying to figure out where the money will come from. And even once you've selected a lender, you still need to decide what repayment terms are best. Fixed- or variable-rate? Interest-only or small fixed repayments while still in school or fully deferred for 6-9 months after graduation? Repaying over five years or twenty? There are a lot of factors to consider that are unique to you.

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Student Loan Provider FAQ

Most students need a loan to fund the full cost of their college education. While the majority of student loans in the United States come through federal programs, there are also private loans available. You usually have to start making repayments on student loans six months after your last semester, though you can start sooner if you wish. Student loans often have repayment terms of at least 10 years.
Yes, very easily. If you're applying for federal student loans, you'll complete the FAFSA online. For private student loans, there are several ways to apply: either directly with a financial institution, like Discover or Wells Fargo, or using a platform that connects you with multiple lenders using a single quote request or application.
Unlike many other types of borrowing, student loans are designed to be affordable - it's rare to be charged an application or origination fee, and you should be able to pay off your loan early with no penalties. Interest rates are also much lower than credit cards and personal loans, and you'll usually have very long repayment terms: starting 6 months after your last semester and often stretching 10 years into the future. Expect interest rates between 1% and 6%, but watch out for fixed vs. variable APRs.
Your student loan will probably be disbursed directly to your school, not deposited to your personal bank account. That's a good thing if you want to ensure that your loan money actually gets used for your education! Because the process requires your school to certify the loan amount, the process can take a few days or more. It's a wise idea to start the loan application process early, to make sure there's plenty of time to meet your school's payment deadlines.
If you have a financial hardship or other eligible circumstance, you can request to defer your student loan repayments. Most lenders allow you to suspend your payments for up to three years if you qualify. Contact the servicer of your student loan to find out what requirements you need to meet to defer your loan.
Forbearance is similar to deferring your student loan payments. If you don't qualify for a deferral but still can't pay your student loan, you might be able to get your payments reduced or suspended temporarily, for up to 12 months. You'll need to get in touch with the servicer of your student loan to see if you're eligible for a forbearance arrangement.
In limited circumstances, yes. It usually depends on the type of student loan you have, the lender, and your situation. Student loans may be forgiven (or, essentially, written off) in the event of the disability or death of the borrower; issues with the school, like closure, error or fraud; income-driven repayment plans or employment-based forgiveness programs.
Yes, most of the time. Tax laws are changing constantly, but in the past students have been able to reduce taxable income by as much as $2,500 based on student loan interest paid, as long as they meet eligibility criteria (like having a qualified student loan that was used exclusively for educational expenses).
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Continued from above...

Fortunately, there are quite a few providers of student loans that can help you not only figure out those answers but also connect you with the money you need to pay for school. Many of them can even prequalify you for a loan with just your name, address and birthdate, with no impact on your credit report. Rest assured that millions of students (and many of their parents) have successfully navigated this process - and you can too.

Here are several aspects of student loan providers to keep in mind as you decide which ones merit further consideration:

  • Referral service or direct lender: Some sites serve as a comparison shopping platform, allowing you to get preliminary information about what loans might be available to you. These referral services may or may not use your information to complete some of the first steps of the application process. Other student loan sites directly connect you with the funding you need.
  • Interest rates. Don't be overly impressed by the super-low interest rates posted by any student loan provider: they almost always come with the caveat that only the "most qualified" candidates qualify for the best rates (and we've yet to find anyone that actually got a loan with rates that low). Just make sure that the rate you're offered is reasonable and competitive with other loans.
  • Repayment options. There are so many different ways to configure a student loan, like repayment terms ranging from 5-20 years, fixed and variable rates, and repayments either while still in school or deferred until after graduation. The more choices available to you, the more likely it is that you'll get loan terms you can afford.
  • Loan servicing. Getting a student loan is just the beginning. Take into account what other students have said about the experience after the application has been approved. Are funds disbursed quickly? Does the customer service team handle issues well? Can you expect any unpleasant surprises (like payments not being recorded accurately or not being able to reach support)?

To help you get the funds you need for your education, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for student loans today. We're confident that this information will make it possible to find the right way to cover the costs of your tuition, books and more!

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