Whether you have used Aspire as your loan servicer before or are using this lending company for the first time, this Aspire Student Loans review will provide you all the information you need to come up with an informed decision.
According to Debt.org, America’s Debt Help Organization, the average college tuition cost ranges from $9,410 for an in-state university to $32.410 for private schools. While grants, as well as scholarships, help in aiding school fees, a lot of students, do still need student loans to make it through school.
Still, according to the said organization, the United States does have a total student loan debt of $1.4 trillion as of 2017 (and the number continues to rise), and that the student debt accrued every second amount to $2,858. Meanwhile, the average student debt in the same year was $37,172.
As you can see, a student loan is very popular among American students, and experts do not see it slowing down in the near future. No wonder why there are a lot of lending companies out there providing competitive student loan rates.
Speaking of lending companies, the industry is quite booming right now. As we mentioned, there are so many choices to choose from. One of the options though is Aspire.
Aspire has a complex story particularly on what loans it has serviced and is still servicing. But hopefully, through this Aspire student loans review, we get to detail everything and help you understand fully how Aspire actually works.
With that said, here are the key points that we are going to tackle on:
- Who is Aspire?
- What are the student loan services provided by Aspire?
- What are the repayment options offered by Aspire?
- How to refinance Aspire student loans?
- How is Aspire’s student loan forgiveness program?
- What military benefits does Aspire provide?
- Who are Aspire’s partners for private loans?
- What are the pros and cons of Aspire student loans?
- How to contact Aspire?
WHO IS ASPIRE?
First of all, if you are eyeing for a lending company to borrow money from, make sure to at least know (no matter how little information you have) the institution’s history. This will help you understand why things go this way in this company instead of the other way, and so much more.
Having said that, let go down memory lane and see Aspire’s very interesting history.
Aspire started as a not-for-profit company back in 1979. It was then called the Iowa Student Loan. However, in 2001, the company launched a for-profit subsidiary to specifically handle services outside of its regular business. The subsidiary was called Aspire Resources.
In 2021, Aspire Resources got a contract to service federal student loans. During their stint as a loan servicer for federal students, the company had a remarkable reputation with high customer satisfaction ratings from the Department of Education.
However, in 2015, Aspire’s CEO, Steve McCullough decided to end a contract to service 200,000 federal loans. The decision caused a lot of confusion, controversy, as well as customer complaints.
The decision, though, according to McCullough, was made because the company does no longer has enough accounts to warrant the cost of operations.
Fast-forward to today, while Aspire Resources no longer have the kind of reputation they once had, the company never stopped operating. In fact, today, Aspire still keeps an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau in the United States!
Well, this goes to show that while they faced a bump in the business for a while, they managed to play their game the way they know how to. For instance, while they get customer complaints, which is not uncommon anyway, they made sure they get to come up with a solution to address the said complaints. This is the very reason why they kept a high rating still from BBB.
The complex story of Aspire does not end there yet though, because, in 2014, another subsidiary of Iowa Student Loan was formed. They called it the Aspire Servicing Center. This particularly services federal loans from Iowa Student Loan.
Just the same, Aspire also services private student loans from both Iowa Student Loan and its partners.
Having said that, let’s proceed to learn more about the services they offer.
WHAT ARE THE STUDENT LOAN SERVICES PROVIDED BY ASPIRE?
Before we proceed to discuss Aspire students loan services, we thought you might be interested to learn about some tips on student loans, here’s a very informative insight by Debt Free Millenials we thought we should share with you:
So, as promised, Aspire student loans review will provide you with the key details you need to know about Aspire. So, this time around, let’s look through each of the products and services that Aspire provides:
Aspire Federal Student Loans
As mentioned earlier, this particular product or service is handled by Aspire Servicing Center.
Aspire Servicing Center basically services federal student loans leftover from the Iowa Student Loan. These loans though are totally different from the ones that were transferred to the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri, or MOHELA when the company gave up servicing federal direct loans.
This particular type of student loan provides several repayment plan options, which include:
- Standard Repayment Plan
- Graduated Repayment Plan
- Extended Repayment Plan
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
- Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan
Later on, we are going to discuss all these plans in detail.
Meanwhile, federal student loans serviced by Aspire can also qualify for loan forgiveness — either through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or other forms of forgiveness available.
However, you must first meet certain requirements for you to be able to enjoy such privileges.
Aspire Private Student Loans
Apart from federal student loans, Aspire Servicing Center also provides support and services for private loan borrowers. The loans come from different sources, which include:
Iowa Student Loan Programs
- Partnership Advance Education Loan
- College Family LoanAlliant Credit Union
Credit Union Programs
- Alliant Credit Union Private Student Loan
- Ascentra Credit Union Private Student Loan Program
- American State Bank Private Student Loan Program
Aspire’s private loan options have different qualifications for eligibility. Thus, it is best to check with Aspire first to check whether you qualify or not for a specific private loan option.
Also, please take note that for credit union programs, you must be a member or become a member of the credit union to avail of the loan. As with the bank programs, “you may need to be a current bank customer or meet other eligibility criteria to apply for loans offered” according to their website.
Again, it’s best to check with Aspire first before kick-starting your application process.
WHAT ARE THE REPAYMENT OPTIONS OFFERED BY ASPIRE?
Earlier, we already mentioned the different repayment options provided by Aspire. This time around, we are going to provide you a more concrete explanation about each repayment program.
As a borrower, it is important to know the available repayment options so you get to decipher if you can actually manage to pay off the loan through the plans they offer. Anyway, here are the different repayment options from Aspire:
- Standard Repayment Plan – This particular plan is the cheapest plan among the options. Through this, you get to pay off your student loan debt in either 10 years or less.
- Graduated Repayment Plan – The thing about this plan is that it starts with lower payments, and eventually, it will increase every two years. While this sounds a good idea, we thought this particular plan is ideal for those borrowers who can guarantee an increase in their income relatively early in their careers. If not, this may seem too risky. It may lead to forcing yourself on the side when an increase in the minimum monthly payment surpasses an increase in your income.
- Extended Repayment Plan – With this plan, you are given 25 years to repay the loan. Although it also sounds like a good idea, paying the loan for such a long time actually means you will pay more in interest. The good thing about this plan though is that you can pay more than the monthly minimum if you want to pay off the loan earlier. This repayment plan is like a standard plan with extra flexibility.
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan – For this particular repayment plan, the monthly payment cost is never more than 15% of the borrower’s discretionary income. he lowest earners may be eligible for monthly payments as low as $0 a month. Take note though that is not similar to loan forgiveness as interest will continue to spike up and, and your balance will continue to grow as well. However, any debt outstanding after 25 years of payments is forgiven.
- Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan – For this repayment plan, payments cost from 4% up to 25% of your gross income. This is quite the same as the IBR plan, but, your payments will not dip lower than the interest accumulated by your loans. So, if your loan for instance accrued $5 in the interest the previous month, the lowest your monthly payment could be is $5.
HOW TO REFINANCE ASPIRE STUDENT LOANS?
Just like most lending companies, Aspire also offers refinancing options for student loans.
Aspire Student Loans can be refinanced by getting another private loan that comes with a lower interest rate.
Acquiring another private loan or personal loan should not be a problem especially if you have a good or excellent credit score, low debt ratio, and if you meet the underwriting criteria set by the lending company.
With so many lending companies out there, you can definitely explore the market and acquire a loan that offers better rates and terms.
Refinancing is actually one of the best options if you want to change your current servicer — especially if you no longer are comfortable with it.
Meanwhile, for federal loans, there are various benefits such as forgiveness, as well as income-based repayment plans that people will have to give up on if they opt to refinance their student loans. If giving up such benefits is a big deal for you at all, then you can have your loans consolidated instead. This helps ensure that the loans stay as they are regardless of the servicer is replaced.
HOW IS ASPIRE’S STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM?
At this point in this Aspire student loan review, we are going to talk about the company’s forgiveness program.
There are certain professions that may qualify for Aspire student loan forgiveness programs. If you are a nurse, teacher, or a public service worker, contact Aspire soonest and check if you are eligible to have your loans reduced, or better, forgiven outright.
To give you an idea, here are some of the federal student loan forgiveness programs being offered by Aspire to nurses and teachers:
Each program has its own qualifications.
For example, for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you need to make 120 qualifying payments on your student loans, at the same time be employed by a government organization or a qualified non-profit organization to be able to take advantage of the program. If you qualify then PSLF automatically forgives the remaining balance on your student loan.
For your reference, below is the list of various forgiveness programs for nurses:
- NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)
- Federal Perkins Cancellation for Nurses
- Iowa Registered Nurse and Nurse Educator Loan Forgiveness Program
Aspire also has forgiveness programs for teachers. In fact, they do have a few options to choose from — of course, depending on your qualifications.
For the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (TLF), it forgives up to $17,500 of Direct or FFEL subsidized or unsubsidized loans. To qualify for this program, you must first and foremost teach at a qualifying school for at least 5 years.
For your reference, below are the different forgiveness programs for teachers offered by Aspire:
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program
- Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Program
- Teach Iowa Scholars Program
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (TLF)
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
In addition to the above list of forgiveness programs by the company, your loans may also be forgiven should your school closes before you are even able to complete your studies.
WHAT MILITARY BENEFITS DOES ASPIRE PROVIDE?
Surprisingly, we found that Aspire also provides military benefits — not just one but two. These programs aim to help students who are pursuing military services.
These benefits are:
- SCRA Interest Rate Limitation – Students who qualify for this program will be charged an interest rate of at most 6% on their student loans.
- Armed Forces Interest Reduction Program – Students who are on active military duty will get to enjoy a deducted interest rate, which is 0% for up to 24 months. To qualify, students should not have defaulted on their private loan and must be deployed between September 11, 2001, and June 30, 2019.
WHO ARE ASPIRE’S PARTNERS FOR PRIVATE LOANS?
For both private and federal student loans, the Aspire student loan servicing is available. The company offers private student loans through its mother company, Iowa Student Loans. As mentioned earlier, through Iowa Student Loans, you may be eligible for either the Partnership Advance Education Loan or the College Family Loan.
Aspire also works with Alliant Credit Union and Ascentra Credit Union. The partnership helps bring consumer student loans at very competitive rates. However, as we earlier mentioned, you will need to be a member of the credit union to qualify for the loan. By joining or being a member, you get to shop fixed rates for as low as 4.25%.
Aspire also partnered with American State Bank. If you are someone who’s more confident in dealing with banks, then this one’s the best option for you. The rates can go as low as 4.75% (based on April 2020 data), which is lower than the 6.08% that the federal government charges students to borrow for graduate-level studies.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF ASPIRE STUDENT LOANS REVIEW?
To complete this Aspire student loan review, we are going to share with you some of the pros and cons we found with Aspire. These are as follows:
- Co-signer Release – Unlike other lending companies, Aspire allows borrowers to apply for a co-signer release for as long as borrowers meet certain requirements.
- Interest Rate Reduction – By setting up automatic monthly payments, you can earn a 0.25% interest rate reduction for yourself.
- Military Discount – As we have shared with you earlier, Aspire does have military benefits. Qualified members of the U.S. armed forces gets to enjoy a reduced interest rate on their student loans.
- Requires Membership – Most of Aspire’s partner student loans require borrowers to be members of the credit union. It also requires borrowers opting to loan through their bank partner to be a bank customer to be able to qualify for a student loan.
- Restrictive Loans – Unfortunately, Aspire’s services are exclusive for Iowa residents attending colleges across the country and for students from other states who are attending colleges in Iowa. If you are nowhere in between, then you better look for another lending company instead.
- Poor Customer Service – There are a lot of reports of poor customer service, which is not a good thing really.
HOW TO CONTACT ASPIRE?
If you have questions, clarifications, or if you have already decided that Aspire is the one for you to get a student loan from, all you have to do is contact them through the communication channels below:
(800) 243-7552 or (515) 243-5626
8 a.m.–7 p.m. (Monday–Thursday)
8 a.m.–5 p.m. (Friday)
Private Loan Application Assistance:
8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. (Monday–Friday)
6775 Vista Drive
West Des Moines, IA 50266-9305
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday)
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ASPIRE STUDENT LOANS REVIEW
While others may find the story of Aspire a little complex, if you look at it, the company is still working the way it should work. Needless to say, it continues to provide student loan options until today.