The Ascent Program for Funding Education provides financial literacy and education loan options for students and families. The online lender offers two options for students who need money for college.
Those who do not require cosigners can apply for Ascent Independent, and those who do need cosigners can apply for Ascent Tuition. Fixed and variable rate loans are available with both programs, and students can choose between various repayment options.
Students must fill out the FAFSA to receive the money. In addition, Ascent requires that all students take a financial literacy course before the loan is disbursed.
Let’s look at the loan options to determine if this is a good choice for you.
Ascent Independent Loan Requirements
Students who don’t want to use cosigners can apply for the Ascent Independent loan. While most companies require excellent credit scores to receive funding without a cosigner, Ascent looks at more than just credit. In fact, the borrower’s credit score ranks low on the list of requirements.
Ascent looks at the student’s future earning potential and other information to determine how likely they will be to pay the loan back. While the lender also looks at the applicant’s credit score, a minimum credit score isn’t specified for the loan.
Since the borrower does not use a cosigner, the interest rates are higher with this loan. Fixed rates currently range from 5.37 percent to 14.36 percent, and variable interest rates range from 3.99 percent to 12.74 percent. The loans are available for terms of five, twelve, or fifteen years, although shorter terms might be available for loans with low balances.
Students can borrow a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $200,000, although the amount cannot be more than the cost of attendance.
Students must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for an Ascent Independent loan.
Fees and Repayment Options
These loans have some fees to consider. A 5 percent late fee is assessed on past due amounts, and borrowers pay $25 for all returned payments. However, there are not origination, disbursement, application, or prepayment fees.
Students can make in-school interest-only repayments, in-school minimum monthly payments, or deferred repayments.
A temporary hardship forbearance is available for a minimum of one month and up to three months. Borrowers may not exceed 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan.
Ascent Tuition Loan Requirements
Those who want to use a cosigner can apply for the Ascent Tuition loan. These loans currently have fixed rates of 4.87 percent to 11.35 percent and variable rates of 3.49 percent to 9.74 percent.
Cosigners must have an income of at least $24,000, and the borrower must be enrolled in school at least half-time to qualify. Ascent also looks at the cosigner’s credit score and other factors when determining if the person qualifies.
The loan terms, fees, borrowing limits, repayment, and forbearance options are the same as they are with the Ascent Independent loan. The main difference is that the interest rate is lower because of the cosigner.
Applying for a Loan
Applying for a loan with Ascent is relatively simple. Students must first fill out the FAFSA, then they can apply online. Students need their social security number, information regarding their school, driver’s license or state ID information, and employment information. A personal reference is also required.
Those who apply for the Tuition Loan also need their cosigner’s information.
What Sets Ascent Apart?
Ascent is unique in the sense that it relies much less on a borrower’s credit than many other private lenders do. In fact, people with bad or no credit might be able to get a loan without a cosigner as long as they show a high earning potential after graduation.
The forbearance period is also beneficial. It is longer than most, giving people the chance to recover if they face financial hardship.
The high fixed-interest rates are a drawback though. The interest rates are several points higher than some lenders offer. However, those lenders typically require a cosigner, so those who want to assume all responsibility for the loan can’t beat Ascent.
The Bottom Line
While Ascent’s fixed interest rates might give some people pause, few lenders put as little emphasis on credit. Many students don’t have credit yet, but they also don’t want to bring cosigners into the process. They can get away with no credit or even poor credit and get the money they need for college with Ascent.Those who are still on the fence can get much-needed information from Ascent’s financial literacy course. The course makes it easier to understand what to expect from a student loan.