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Ascent Review

Sarah Badani
Feb. 21, 2024
5 min read
Sarah Badani
Ascent Summary
Ascent Funding offers fixed and variable rate loans for students in undergraduate or graduate education. You can borrow up to $400,000, apply with or without a cosigner, and take advantage of flexible repayment conditions. If you’re applying alone with a short credit history, there are no minimum credit score or income requirements for eligible juniors and seniors.

Pros

  • 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward
  • Flexible repayment terms- 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15-years
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • 4-step application with a soft credit check

Cons

  • No cosigner, future income-based loan only for juniors & seniors
  • Can only borrow enough for one year of study

Ascent at a glance

9.2
Editorial score

Online experience

Good online resources, but no access to rates
8.0

Customer services and support

Multiple ways of reaching lender, wide range of hours
8.0

Repayment flexibility

Offers flexible repayment plans & the option for special repayment programs
10.0

Eligibility

Loans available to all credit types, income levels, and students
10.0

Variety of Loan Types

Offers all loan types
10.0

Overview

Ascent Funding offers both fixed-rate and variable-rate loans to students, with flexible terms of up to 15 years for undergraduate (20 years for graduate) and APRs that start from 4.09% - 15.66%. You can apply for an Ascent loan with or without a cosigner, and request deferment or forbearance under certain circumstances. Ascent has been named “Best Private Student Loan of 2021” by multiple top consumer sites and is based in San Diego, California.

Suitable For?

Ascent loans are suitable for college students at over 2,200 schools nation-wide. The flexible loan terms, including deferment and forbearance options, make it a good choice for anyone who isn’t sure how long it will take before they enter paid employment, or are thinking of entering a medical track or joining the military. The option to apply without a cosigner, and no minimum income or credit score requirements for some sole borrowers, make it ideal for borrowers without many financial resources.

Loan Features

Ascent’s biggest feature is the flexibility it offers when applying for a student loan. You can apply with or without a cosigner, and students can get a loan even without a cosigner or a minimum number of years of credit history. If you begin with a cosigner, you could release them later on if you make 12 consecutive full payments and meet other eligibility criteria.

Ascent has a number of options for deferment, forbearance, and flexible payments while you’re working in education, serving in the military, or taking a medical residency or internship. The grace period before making full payments can be as long as 9 months.

You can also choose a loan term up to 15 years for undergraduate and 20 years for graduate, fixed or variable rate payments, and gain an extra reduction of 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans) if you pay with auto-pay.

  • Apply with or without a cosigner
  • No minimum credit score or income, under certain conditions
  • Multiple flexible options for forbearance and deferment
  • Flexible loan terms up to 20 years
  • Up to a 9-month grace period before beginning full repayments
  • No prepayment penalties
  • 0.25% - 1.00% discount when you pay with auto-pay
  • 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward

The Application Process

Applying for an Ascent loan is done online. You’ll need to check that your prospective school is on Ascent’s list of eligible institutions, then create a secure account to continue with the application.

  • Share relevant information about your/your cosigner’s income, credit history, and credit score
  • After getting preliminary approval, upload documentation to the Ascent application platform
  • Wait 1-2 business days for Ascent to review your documents
  • Your loan application is sent to your school for validation

As part of the application process, all borrowers, including the cosigner, need to take a short online financial literacy course.

Eligibility Requirements

To get an Ascent loan with a cosigner, your cosigner needs a minimum gross annual income of $24,000, and must be a U.S, citizen or U.S. permanent resident. NOTE: Ascent does not consider DTI for cosigners.

If you’re applying without a cosigner, you need:

  • No delinquencies of 60 or more days over the past 24 months.
  • If you have 2 or more years of credit history, then your credit score must be at least FICO 680
  • If you have less than 2 years of credit history, you can have a credit score of 0 or no score and may be eligible for the Non-Cosigned Future Income-Based Loan (undergraduate juniors and seniors only)

It is possible to apply for an Ascent loan without a cosigner and also without 2 or more years of credit history. If you’re in that position, you’ll just be evaluated based on your current school, program, major, and other criteria unrelated to income or credit score.

To release your cosigner, you must make 12 consecutive full principal and interest payments on-time or an equivalent prepayment amount.

In every case, application requirements include:

  • Full or half-time enrollment in an eligible institution
  • Age 18 or older
  • No defaults on any loan in the last 5 years
  • No reported bankruptcies in the last 5 years
  • No unsatisfied repossessions, judgments, liens, foreclosure, etc. by creditors
  • No settled or unsettled non-medical charge-offs or collection accounts over $100, or medical charge-offs or collection accounts of over $500 in total

Loan Rates

Ascent offers both variable and fixed-rate student loans. At the moment, variable rate loans have an interest rate that range from 6.22% - 16.08%. Fixed rate loans that range from 4.09% - 15.66%, depending on your credit rating. When you pay through automatic debit payments, you’ll get a 0.25% - 1.00% discount on your interest rate.

Your credit score affects your interest rates, but you’ll need to apply to find out your exact loan terms.

Repayment Terms

The standard student loan term for Ascent loans is up to 10 years for a fixed-rate loan or up to 15 years (or 20 for graduate) for a variable rate loan.

Ascent has flexible repayment options, including:

  • Interest-only repayments while the borrower is enrolled in an eligible institution for at least half-time, for up to 60 months.
  • $25 minimum payments, also while enrolled in an eligible institution for at least half-time.
  • Deferred repayments while on active military duty (for up to 36 months), or on a medical residency or internship (for up to 48 months), or if you've exceeded your allowance for interest-only payments, but you're still enrolled in an eligible institution for at least half-time. NOTE: You can still make a payment anytime and there are no early repayment fees. 
  • Forbearance, if the borrower is going through financial difficulties. Forbearance lasts for between 1 to 3 months, and you can apply for forbearance up to 4 times in a row, and for a maximum of 24 months of forbearance across the lifetime of the loan.

How Safe Is It?

Ascent uses a secure website to process your information and has a transparent privacy policy that details how it collects and shares your private information.

Customer Service

Ascent Funding has a useful and comprehensive set of FAQs that serve as your first port of call for troubleshooting. If you need individual help, you can get in touch with a customer support representative through email, over the phone, or using the online web form. Customer support is manned from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

How Ascent Compares


AscentMEFA
APR4.09% - 15.66%
3.28% - 6.18%
Credit ScoreVariesNot specified
Loan amount$2,001-$200,000*$1,500-cost of attendance for 1 year
Accepts cosignersYesYes
Suitable forNew studentsUndergrad, postgrads, and graduates

Summary

Overall, Ascent offers student loans with very flexible repayment terms and application requirements. Ascent has been named “Best Private Student Loan of 2021” by multiple top consumer sites because it’s a good choice for students who want to apply with or without a cosigner, and who only need the funds for part of their studies. It's easy to apply to Ascent, and you can do it entirely online in minutes and see your rates without impacting your credit score. Finally, Ascent's 0.25% - 1.00% discount for autopay users and 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward discount make it even more appealing.

Disclaimer

Ascent's undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 4/01/2024 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, a cosigner, and are only available for our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores. Actual APR offered may be higher or lower than the repayment examples above, based on the amount of time you spend in school and any grace period you have before repayment begins.

* The minimum amount is $2,001 except for the state of Massachusetts. Minimum loan amount for borrowers with a Massachusetts permanent address is $6,001.

Sarah Badani
Written by
Sarah Badani
Sarah Badani has extensive research and review experience in the finance industry. With a degree in psychology and education, she brings a level of depth and understanding to her writing along with her own flavor to spice up each topic in a unique and inviting way. She writes for BestMoney and enjoys helping readers make sense of the options on the market.‎
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