When it comes to private student loans, your credit is key. Private lenders look for borrowers with good credit; if you don’t meet this criteria, you usually need a co-signer — someone with good credit who is willing to take responsibility for the loan — to get approved.
If you don’t know anyone willing to co-sign, you’re probably out of luck. For borrowers in this situation, Ascent Funding may be a great solution.
Ascent Funding offers private student loans to undergraduate, graduate, and coding bootcamp students. It offers borrowers a non-co-signer loan option, allowing students with limited credit histories to obtain a loan without a co-signer – a unique advantage in the student loan industry and what makes Ascent one of our top private student loan options reason.
Ascent Student Loans Overview
Ascent Funding is a relatively young company. It launched in 2015 specifically to help students traditionally underserved by student loan companies. Students without a guarantor, international students, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students are eligible for loans through Ascent, and they can have up to 15 years to repay their loans.
- Provides non-co-signed option
- DACA and international students are eligible
- Provide patience options
- Higher than normal autopay discount
- Non-co-signing option not available to all borrowers
- Some loan options have high APRs
- No parent student loans
- No loan prequalification tool
Unlike other student loan companies that make decisions based solely on a borrower’s credit history and income, Ascent Funding offers outcomes-based options. Borrowers who may not be able to secure a guarantor or have established credit can use this option for college loans.
Ascent also serves traditionally underserved borrowers. Private student loan lenders typically only make loans to U.S. citizens and permanent residents; international students and DACA students are often excluded. In contrast, Ascent Funding offers loans to international students with a co-signer, and DACA students are eligible for loans with or without a co-signer.
As an Ascent borrower, if you are experiencing financial hardship, you can take advantage of a hardship forbearance period of up to 24 months, giving you time to recover financially without paying your student loans. Ascent has other benefits, including reduced rates of up to 1.00% if you set up automatic payments. Ascent has no origination fees, application fees, advance payment or prepayment penalties.
While Ascent may be useful to many borrowers, its non-co-signed outcomes-based loans are not available to everyone. To be eligible, you must be a college junior or senior and be enrolled full-time in eligible courses. You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or DACA student. And because some of Ascent’s loans are non-joint and outcome-based, their APRs may be higher than what you’ll find elsewhere; their loans have a whopping 15.91% APR.
Ascent does not offer parent student loans, so parents who want to borrow on behalf of their children will have to work with another lender.
Many student loan lenders have prequalification tools that allow you to check your eligibility and view loan options without doing hard credit inquiries, which can affect your credit. Unfortunately, Ascent doesn’t have this option. You can only view your loan options after completing the loan application and agreeing to the hard credit check.
Services of Ascent Funding
Ascent Funding initially offered student loans to international students and DACA students, but it has expanded its offerings to include loans for traditional undergraduate and graduate students. It also offers career loans and coding bootcamp loans, programs that typically aren’t eligible for federal student loans or private loans from other lenders.
Students without a guarantor are eligible for a credit-based loan or an outcome-based loan. Second, instead of your credit score and current income, Ascent considers your academic performance and future earning potential to determine your eligibility for a loan.
Depending on the type of loan you apply for, undergraduate students can typically borrow $2,000 to $200,000, and graduate school students can borrow up to $400,000. Ascent Funding has a variety of repayment options so you can defer payments until after graduation, pay only interest while in school or make partial payments to reduce interest accrual.
As an added bonus, some students graduate with a 1.00% cash back benefit, giving you money based on your original loan amount. For example, if you borrow $30,000 for your education and graduate from your program on time, Ascent will give you a $300 cash-back graduation award.
what they don’t offer
While Ascent Funding may be a useful lender for some borrowers, there are some limitations to keep in mind:
- No Parent Student Loans: Many parents borrow money to help their children pay for college. Private loans can be a cost-effective alternative to federal Parent Plus loans — which can have high interest rates — but Ascent Funding doesn’t have a parent loan option.
- No student loan refinancing: Unlike other lenders, Ascent Funding only offers on-campus loans. It does not offer student loan refinancing. If you have a loan that you want to refinance, you will have to work with another lender.
- Low-Interest Loans: Ascent’s loans tend to have higher APRs than other lenders. Not surprising considering its target audience is borrowers with no credit history and international students. Creditworthy U.S. citizen borrowers — or borrowers with creditworthy guarantors — may find lower rates elsewhere.
Ascent operates in all 50 states, and it also makes loans to international students and DACA students. However, Ascent is not a lender. Instead, its loans are made by its partner banks. Its college loans are issued by the Bank of Lake Mills, while Ascent’s bootcamp loans are issued by Richland State Bank. Both banks are members of the FDIC.
Licensing and Registration
Ascent and its partner banks are licensed to originate loans in all 50 states.
Awards and Certifications
Ascent is regularly recognized as a leading student loan institution. It was voted a top private student loan company by NerdWallet and Forbes Advisor.
In 2022, Ascent Funding was also named one of the “Best Places to Work in Fintech” by American Banker.
third party rating
Like other companies that only handle private student loans, Ascent Funding has not been evaluated by a credit rating agency.
Ascent has not yet faced regulatory action or litigation. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received only one complaint, which is far fewer than what student loan institutions typically receive.
Accessibility to Ascent Funding
Ascent offers comprehensive customer support and educational materials.
Ascent does not operate brick and mortar stores. Borrowers can apply for loans entirely online, and customer support is available by phone, chat or email.
Ascent’s website is easy to use. However, it doesn’t have a prequalification tool, so you can’t look at rates without agreeing to a credit check that could affect your credit score.
Ascent provides educational content on its website in the form of articles and YouTube videos. It also has a calculator that you can use to estimate the return on investment of a college degree.
Ascent Funding does not provide 24/7 customer service. If you do take out a loan through Ascent, any questions about monthly payments or interest will be handled through another company; Ascent uses a third-party loan servicer — Launch Servicing — to process the loan account after the loan is paid.
Ascent’s Customer Satisfaction
In general, reviews of Ascent for its loan products and customer service are generally positive. However, Ascent is a relatively young company, so there aren’t many customer reviews yet.
Although Ascent is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, it has been reviewed on TrustPilot. Customers give Ascent a 3.7 out of 5 on TrustPilot, which falls into the “Fair” category. The number of reviews is very limited, but the existing ones praise the smooth and fast application process.