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Published: Jul 29, 2022 12 min read
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When it comes to private student loans, your credit is key. Private lenders look for borrowers with good to excellent credit; if you don’t meet that criteria, you usually need a cosigner — someone with good credit willing to take on responsibility for the loan — to get approved.

If you don’t know anyone that is willing to cosign, you could be out of luck. For borrowers in that situation, Ascent Funding can be an excellent solution.

Ascent Funding offers private student loans for undergraduate, graduate and coding bootcamp students. It has a non-cosigned loan option for borrowers that allows students with limited credit histories to take out a loan without a cosigner — a unique benefit in the student loan industry and the reason Ascent is one of our top private student loan picks.

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Ascent Student Loans Overview

Ascent Funding is a relatively young company. It was launched in 2015, and was specifically created to help students that are traditionally underserved by student loan companies. Students without cosigners, international students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students can qualify for loans through Ascent, and they can have up to 15 years to repay their loans.

Pros
  • Non-cosigned options available
  • DACA and international students are eligible
  • Forbearance options available
  • Higher-than-normal autopay discount
Cons
  • Non-cosigned options aren't available to all borrowers
  • Some loan options have high APRs
  • Does not offer parent student loans
  • No loan prequalification tool

Unlike other student loan companies that base their decisions entirely on borrower credit histories and income, Ascent Funding has options that are outcomes-based. Borrowers who may not have access to a cosigner or established credit can use this option to take out money for college.

Ascent also serves borrowers who are traditionally underserved. Private student loan lenders usually only provide those to U.S. citizens and permanent residents; international and DACA students are often excluded. By contrast, Ascent Funding offers loans to international students if they have a cosigner, and DACA students can qualify for loans with or without a cosigner.

As an Ascent borrower, you can take advantage of up to 24 months of hardship forbearance if you have financial difficulties, giving you time without student loan payments to financially recover. And Ascent has other benefits, including a rate reduction as high as 1.00% if you set up automatic payments. Ascent doesn’t charge origination fees, application fees, disbursement fees or prepayment penalties.

Although Ascent could be useful for many borrowers, its non-cosigned outcomes-based loans aren’t available to everyone. To qualify, you must be a college junior or senior and enrolled full-time in an eligible program. You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or DACA student. And because some of Ascent’s loans are non-cosigned and outcomes-based, they may have higher APRs than you can find elsewhere; its loans can have APRs as high as 14.96%.

Ascent doesn’t offer parent student loans, so parents that 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 undergoing a hard credit inquiry, which can affect your credit. Unfortunately, Ascent doesn’t have that option. You can only view your loan options after filling out the loan application and consenting to a hard credit check.

Ascent Funding’s Services

Ascent Funding initially offered student loans for international and DACA students, but it has expanded its products to include loans for traditional undergraduate and graduate students. It also offers career loans and loans for coding bootcamps, programs that aren’t typically eligible for federal student loans or private loans from other lenders.

Students without cosigners can qualify for either a credit-based loan or an outcomes-based loan. With the second, rather than looking at your credit score and current income, Ascent considers your academic achievements and future income potential to determine your eligibility for a loan.

What they offer: Private student loans

Ascent Undergraduate Loans
Cosigned
Credit-Based
Non-cosigned
Credit-Based
Non-cosigned Outcomes-Based
Borrower Type Students with a creditworthy cosigner, including U.S. citizens, DACA and international students Students that can qualify with their own income and credit history. For U.S. citizens and DACA students College juniors and seniors with a 2.9 GPA or higher and no credit score
Loan Amounts $2,000 to $200,000 $2,000 to $200,000 $2,000 to $200,000
Loan Repayment Terms 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years 10 or 15 years
Repayment Options Deferred
Interest-only
$25 flat
Deferred
Interest-only
$25 flat
Deferred
Interest Rates Fixed: 5.17% - 13.21%
Variable: 1.78% - 9.37%
Fixed: 7.71% - 14.96%
Variable: 4.37% - 11.12%
Fixed: 12.18% - 12.85%
Variable: 9.16% - 11.56%
Rates are current as of June 30, 2022. Rates reflect a 0.25% autopay discount for credit-based loans, and a 1.00% autopay discount for outcomes-based loans
Other Ascent Student Loans
Graduate Career Coding Bootcamp
Borrower Type Students pursuing graduate or professional degrees Students in professional training and certification programs Students enrolled in a coding bootcamp
Loan Amounts $2,000 to $200,000 $2,000 to total tuition Varies by program
Loan Repayment Terms 7, 10, 12 or 15 years 5, 7 or 10 years Varies by program
Repayment Options Deferred
Interest-only
Partial
Deferred
Interest-only
Varies by program
Interest Rates Fixed: 5.31% - 14.96%
Variable: 1.79% - 11.12%
Fixed: 8.00% - 14.00% Varies by program
Rates are current as of June 30, 2022. Rates reflect a 0.25% autopay discount.

Depending on the type of loan you apply for, you can typically borrow between $2,000 and $200,000. Ascent Funding has multiple repayment options, so you can defer your payments until after graduation, make interest-only payments while in school or make partial payments to reduce the accrued interest.

As an added perk, some students can qualify for a 1.00% cash-back benefit upon graduation, giving you money based on your original loan amount. For example, if you borrowed $30,000 for your education and graduated from your program on time, Ascent will give you a $300 cash-back graduation reward.

What they don’t offer

Although Ascent Funding can 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.
  • Does not offer student loan refinancing: Unlike other lenders, Ascent Funding only provides in-school loans. It doesn’t offer student loan refinancing. If you have loans you’d like to refinance, you’ll have to work with another lender.
  • Low-interest loans: Ascent’s loans tend to have higher APRs than other lenders. That’s not surprising considering its target audience is borrowers without credit histories and international students. Borrowers who are U.S. citizens with good credit — or who have a cosigner with good credit — can likely find lower rates elsewhere.
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Ascent’s Credentials

Ascent operates in all 50 states, and it also issues loans to international and DACA students. However, Ascent isn’t a lender. Instead, its loans are issued by its partner banks. Its college loans are issued by Bank of Lake Mills, while Ascent’s bootcamp loans are issued by Richland State Bank. Both banks are FDIC members.

Licenses and Registrations

Ascent and its partner banks are licensed to issue loans in all 50 states.

Awards and Certifications

Ascent is frequently recognized as a leading student loan lender. It was selected by both NerdWallet and Forbes Advisor as a top private student loan company.

In 2022, Ascent Funding was also recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work in FinTech” by American Banker.

Third-Party Ratings

Like other companies that only handle private student loans, Ascent Funding hasn’t been evaluated by credit rating agencies.

Regulatory Actions

Ascent hasn’t faced regulatory actions or lawsuits. And just one complaint has been filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which is much less than student loan lenders typically receive.

Ascent Funding’s Accessibility

Ascent provides comprehensive customer support and educational materials.

Availability

Ascent doesn’t operate in-person locations. Borrowers can apply for loans entirely online, and customer support is available via phone, chat or email.

Contact Information

If you need help with your application, Ascent is available Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. PST. You can contact its customer support team at 877-216-0876. You can also reach customer support via chat, or by emailing help@ascentfunding.com.

User Experience

Ascent’s website is easy to use. However, it doesn’t have a prequalification tool, so you can’t view rates without consenting to a credit check that can affect your credit score.

On its site, Ascent provides educational content in the form of articles and YouTube videos. It also has a calculator you can use to estimate the return-on-investment on your college degree.

Limitations

Ascent Funding doesn’t offer around-the-clock customer service. If you do take out a loan through Ascent, any questions about monthly payments or interest will go through another company; Ascent uses a third-party loan servicer — Launch Servicing — to handle loan accounts after the loan disbursement.

You can reach Launch Servicing Monday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. CST via phone or email. You can call 877-354-2629, or you can email customerservice@launchservicing.com.

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Ascent’s Customer Satisfaction

Generally, Ascent has average to positive reviews for its loan products and customer service. However, Ascent is a relatively young company, so there aren’t many customer reviews available yet.

Customer Complaints

Although Ascent isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau, it has been reviewed on TrustPilot. Customers gave Ascent a 3.7 out of 5 rating on TrustPilot, putting it in the “Average” category. Reviews are very limited in number, but existing reviews praise the smooth and quick application process.

Third-Party Ratings

Ascent has not been rated by third-party consumer groups.

Ascent Student Loans FAQ

How long does it take to get a loan from Ascent?

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The application process with Ascent is quick and easy; you can usually complete it within minutes. Ascent will review your application and notify you of their decision within a few days. Once approved, Ascent will work with your college to certify the loan. Depending on your school, the certification step can take days or weeks to complete. Ascent cannot disburse the funds until the school certifies the loan, so plan on applying at least two months before you need the funds to ensure you get the money in time.

What is the interest rate on Ascent loans?

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Interest rates vary based on the type of loan you take out. In general, fixed-rate undergraduate loans range from 5.17% to 14.96%. Variable-rate undergraduate loans range from 1.78% to 11.56%. Borrowers can reduce their interest rate by enrolling in automatic payments. Depending on the type of loans you have, the autopay discount can range from 0.25% to 1.00%.

Is Ascent Funding legit?

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Ascent Funding is a legitimate and reliable student loan lender. It works with major banks to issue its loans, and both banks are FDIC members.

Can you pay off Ascent loans early?

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If you take out an Ascent student loan, you can make extra payments or pay off the loan early without worrying about prepayment penalties.

How We Evaluated Ascent Student Loans

We compared Ascent Funding with 18 other leading student loan companies to see how it measured up. We evaluated each lender on their available loan options, interest rates, repayment terms, customer support and financial hardship policies; we emphasized in-school repayment options and alternative repayment plans when ranking lenders.

Summary of Money’s Ascent Funding Review

International students, DACA students and borrowers without cosigners have been underserved by the student loan industry, and are often left with few financing options for their college educations. But with Ascent Funding, borrowers in those groups can qualify for private student loans that cover their remaining education costs.

However, borrowers with excellent credit — or that have family or friends willing to cosign — can likely find lower-interest loan terms elsewhere. Ascent’s loans tend to have higher APRs than other lenders, so it may pay off to shop around and request quotes from other student loan companies.

To view more options, check out our picks for the best student loans of 2022.