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Thursday, October 21st
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:
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.
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 (e.g. 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.
As the costs of higher education rise, so does the need for student loans. While some individuals are eligible for federal loans, those loans don't always cover the full cost of getting an education - not just tuition and room/board, but books, laptops, transportation and other expenses. And, people who are ineligible for federal loans don't necessarily have overflowing savings accounts to match their college or university costs.
Private student loans are the way that many students close that gap. On average, students have nearly $40,000 in student loan debt at the time of graduation; without those funds, their aspirations of being a teacher, engineer, or social worker may have been put on hold indefinitely.
Fortunately, there are many lenders who want to make it as affordable and simple as possible to complete undergraduate and graduate-level studies. Some represent well-known, established financial institutions, while others work directly with networks of community banks to get much-needed cash into the hands of eager learners.
Comparing offers from lenders can be as easy as going online; in a matter of minutes and mouse clicks, you can see a variety of interest rates, repayment terms, and other details of each program for which you are eligible. This saves you significant time compared with going hat in hand to your local bank or other lending institution, hoping that they will say yes to your loan application.
When deciding on which lender to use for your student loan, you should consider the following factors:
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