Over the past decade, the cost of a degree at both public and private colleges and universities has skyrocketed. While many students are able to pay for at least part of their education through savings, scholarships, and grants, many need to take out some form of student loans to cover some part of the cost.

For many students, being approved for private student loans can be challenging without an income or an established credit score. Ascent Student Loans was founded to help students get approved for private student loans with or without a cosigner, based on their credit score and a number of other factors.

Headquartered in San Diego, Ascent Student Loans offers both student loans and financial literacy education, so borrowers can learn more about the type of debt they are taking on before signing a promissory note. By linking this financial education with the student loan process, Ascent hopes to revolutionize the education financing system.

Ascent provides loans to students through one of two lenders: Richland State Bank or Turnstile Capital Management. Its student loans are serviced by University Account Service.

Private Student Loans With or Without a Cosigner

The majority of private student loans in the United States require the borrower to have a cosigner, unless the borrower is over the age of 25 or has a strong credit history.

The lender wants reassurance that the borrower will be able to repay the loan. A cosigner provides this assurance by assuming equal responsibility for the loan.

However, cosigning a loan is a heavy responsibility, as it can damage the cosigner’s credit and make it more difficult for them to take out a loan on their own. Some students may not have a family member or friend to serve as a cosigner, as the cosigner must generally have a clean credit history and a steady income.

Ascent offers private student loans with or without a cosigner to its qualified borrowers. As part of the application process, Ascent looks at a number of factors to determine eligibility for a student loan. Based on its evaluation of a student’s creditworthiness, a borrower may be eligible for a loan without a cosigner.

Through Ascent, a qualified student can avoid having a cosigner if they meet certain criteria. Unlike traditional lenders and banks, who focus exclusively on a credit score and income, Ascent looks at an applicant’s school, program, major, and graduation date to determine whether they can qualify for a student loan without a cosigner. Based on this process, a student may be eligible for one of Ascent’s cosigned or non-cosigned student loans, at either a fixed or variable interest rate. Loans with cosigners typically have lower interest rates.

How to Qualify

Starting the application process with Ascent Student Loans is simple. First, check to see if your school is on Ascent’s approved list of schools. If so, you can then submit an application. During the application process, you will be required to complete a financial literacy module to ensure you are making an informed borrowing decision.

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Once you have completed your application and the financial literacy module, you can then choose a fixed or variable rate loan, the loan term, and repayment plan. Loans are available in amounts ranging from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum aggregate loan amount of $200,000. Loan proceeds are disbursed directly to your school. Ascent student loans are only available to citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

Fixed and Variable Interest Rates for Private Undergraduate Loans

Interest rates for Ascent student loans vary depending on a number of factors, including whether or not the borrower has a cosigner and the credit history of the borrower and/or the cosigner. The interest rate will also depend on the length of the loan, the type of repayment plan, and whether the interest rate is variable or fixed rate.

For fixed interest rate loans with a cosigner, Ascent’s current interest rates vary from a low of 5.56% to 12.11% annual percentage rate (APR). For variable interest rate loans with a cosigner, the APR is currently as low as 3.83% to as high as 10.58%. For fixed interest rate loans without a cosigner, the APR currently ranges from 7.06% to 13.72%. For variable interest rate loans without a cosigner, the APR currently ranges from 5.49% to 12.77%.

Ascent offers three repayment plans for its student loans. Borrowers can choose to make monthly payments on the interest that accrues on their student loans while still enrolled in school, make $25 payments each month while in school, or defer all payments until after graduation. If you choose to defer all payments until after graduation, the interest that has accrued will capitalize and be added to the principal of your loan.

Unlike other private student loan lenders, which tend to only offer 10 year repayment plans, Ascent offers borrowers a choice of 5, 10 and 15 year repayment plans. The lowest interest rates for most borrowers can be found with 5 year repayment plans.

Is an Ascent Student Loan Right for You?

Ascent student loans offer a range of options for borrowers, including competitive interest rates on cosigned student loans. While some of their loans have high interest rates, the rates charged are similar to those charged by other lenders for non-cosigned loans. If you need a private student loan and want to explore alternatives for funding without a cosigner, Ascent Student Loans may be a great choice.

You can a list of the best places for student loans here.