Every Loan Has a Story: Private Student Loans and How They Work with Ascent CEO and Co-Founder Ken Ruggiero

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Ken Ruggiero, CEO and Co-founder of Ascent, joins me and we look at his unique journey to founding Ascent, a fintech company that applies a holistic lens to the student loan industry. It’s the kind of discussion that’s full of diverse insight into governmental policy, first-hand knowledge of the student loan industry’s long history and the reflections on the outsized power that higher education lobby wields.

Learn how Ascent has been honored by the American Bankers Association for its data- and tech-driven approach that also incorporates educational elements to advance financial literacy, life skills and career support.

You’ll also get a peek into Ken’s emphatic advice: If you’re struggling to keep up with payments, don’t go into denial. Loan providers are there to help you work it out!

In today’s episode, we’re covering:

  • Ken’s professional evolution within the student loan sector over the past two decades
  • A complex understanding of the context for FFEL loans
  • How student loan and FFEL restructuring made Ken step away
  • What events propelled Ken’s decision to re-enter the student loan market in 2017
  • How Ascent grew out of a desire to serve students who have no resources, no credit and no support in funding their education
  • Ken’s journey of Ascent’s loan portfolio performance and forbearance amidst pandemic
  • Why anyone would use a private student loan in today’s environment
  • Why private student loan companies like Ascent exist
  • Refinancing and whether it makes sense to renegotiate your loan, including Ken’s advice
  • Ken’s explanation of the finer points of Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS loans, patterns and shifts in borrowing
  • A back-door method of education funding that parents without resources might try
  • Alternatives to student loans that Ken recommends
  • All about Ascent’s Bright Futures Engine that integrates student loans with the preparedness and healthy financial habits for students
  • What is peak season and why it matters

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