Great Lakes Higher Education Becomes Ascendium Education Group

November 15, 2018


Madison, Wis.—The former Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates (Great Lakes) has relaunched as Ascendium Education Group. The renamed organization will build on Great Lakes’ 51-year history of supporting postsecondary access and completion and successful student loan repayment.

Earlier this year, student loan servicer Nelnet, Inc. acquired the loan servicing subsidiary of Great Lakes. Following the acquisition, the remaining Great Lakes companies were reorganized as Ascendium Education Group. With approximately 250 employees, Ascendium, still the largest guarantor of federal student loans, will continue providing information, tools and counseling to three million borrowers to help them successfully repay their loans.

Educational philanthropy will also continue to be a big part of Ascendium’s mission with a focus on higher education and overcoming the barriers to postsecondary access and success. Most of Ascendium’s grants are made to organizations that research or implement strategies to promote success for underserved populations including students of color, students from low-income backgrounds and students who are the first in their families to pursue postsecondary education. This philanthropic work stems from the organization’s belief that higher education is one of the keys to a better life and that those underserved students have historically faced the greatest challenges and yet have the most to gain from completing postsecondary education.

As one of the nation’s largest higher education grantmakers, Great Lakes awarded nearly $75 million in grants in 2017 to research the most effective ways to get students to and through postsecondary education. Ascendium is poised to rapidly increase that number to $100 million annually.

“Everything we do, from our products and services to our philanthropy, is designed to ensure the success of students and help them reach the education goals that matter most to them,” said Richard D. George, chairman, president and CEO of Ascendium. “The transition away from loan servicing will allow Ascendium to focus exclusively on those strategies and offerings that support that mission.”

In addition to philanthropy and guarantor services, Ascendium also offers a suite of products for both borrowers and college campuses called Attigo. Attigo products include a student loan repayment support solution, a financial wellness education curriculum and a student debt letter correspondence package to help colleges comply with state legislation and improve student outcomes.

Ascendium is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin with offices in Aberdeen, South Dakota; Eagan, Minnesota and Indianapolis, Indiana.