SEATTLE – A Seattle college student recently wrote in to the “Get Out of Debt Experts” blog about how his conversion to Islam now prevents him from paying interest on about $65,000 in student loans.
The site’s “Get Out of Debt Guy,” Steve Rhode, explained that ditching the interest on the debt is not only unlikely, it could lead to banishment from Heaven in the afterlife.
Confused Seattle student Amir wrote that loans he originally took out with Cit-Student Loan Corp. have been transferred to Navient (formally Sallie Mae), and what was $32,000 is now about $64,000 because of deferred payments and interest, according to GetOutofDebt.org.
The student asked the company if he could settle the loans for less, but Navient reportedly refused.
Now, Amir is looking for another way out of his mountain of debt.
“My conditions have changed I was born into Islam however never knew much about my religion. Since 2012 I have been learning more about my faith and it is strictly forbidden in my faith to have dealings with interest,” he schemed.
“I am offering to pay off the original amount I owe however due to religious reasons would like them to recognize that my awareness and conditions have changed from the time of originally accepting the loan with Citi-Student Loan Corp and not even with them at Sallie Mae.
“Can I get the interest wiped out and close this account and case with just paying the original amount borrowed?”
The Get Out of Debt Guy’s reaction: you’re dreaming.
“Asking any lender to adjust their terms and conditions after the fact for religious reasons is just not going to happen,” Rhode wrote.
The real problem, Rhodes said, is Amir simply didn’t make his payments when he should have.
“You’ve also learned a painful lesson, the damage caused by deferment is enormous,” he said. “Most people think it is an innocent time not to make payments and get a payment vacation. In fact it just puts the debt in turbo and the interest causes the balances to explode.”
Rhodes suggested that Amir get an attorney to help him, or to settle the loan quickly if he has the money on hand.
There’s also avenues to deal with the apparent conflict between western loans and the Muslim faith, he wrote.
“If you don’t have funds available … then you might want to talk to your mosque about Zakat, ‘a muslim charitable fund that followers may ask for help from in order to repay problem debt. Zakat is a obligatory charity for Muslim followers,’” Rhodes said.
And then there’s another consideration, he added.
“ … (I)f your faith is guiding your repayment then you’ll have to seek wise counsel on how to deal with what the Imam told me. He said, even those that borrowed with interest, are obligated to repay their entire debt and if they don’t they will be prohibited from entering paradise when they die.
“How you overcome that little issue is above my pay grade,” Rhodes wrote.