Steve Rhode, the Get Out of Debt Guy, has advised a Muslim man seeking financial advice not to try to use Islam as a crutch to get out of paying half of what is now a $64,000 student loan debt.
“Dear Steve,” the Seattle, Wash. man going by the name Amir wrote to Rhode in a missive published this week, “I had two citi-student loans and at some point in time within the last 5 years they went to Navient.”
Amir explained that he had unsuccessfully asked the loan servicing company to lower his payoff amount to $32,000, even though the actual amount he owes is $64,000 “because of deferment and interest.”
The dismayed student loan borrower also noted that he “was born into Islam” but only took a serious interest in the religion in 2012. One thing he has learned since then, he said, is that “dealings with interest” are “strictly forbidden” under Islam.
“I am offering to pay off the original amount I owe,” Amir graciously offered. As for the rest, he wants his creditors to acknowledge that his “awareness and conditions have changed” since he accepted the loan.
“Can I get the interest wiped out and close this account and case with just paying the original amount borrowed?” Amir asked.
Rhode then responded by having exactly none of Amir’s plea for a religion-based student loan discount.
“Asking any lender to adjust their terms and conditions after the fact for religious reasons is just not going to happen,” the Get Out of Debt Guy bluntly declared.
Rhode told Amir that the lesson to take from the situation is that “the damage caused by deferment is enormous” because accruing interest “just puts the debt in turbo.”
He also noted that Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) will settle loans but achieving a settlement typically requires either intercession by a debt expert or grave delinquency.
Noting that he has previously written about Islam and debt, Rhode also suggested that Amir’s mosque might be able to provide funding for his loans from Zakat, “obligatory charity for Muslim followers.”
Rhode also explained that an imam advised him that Muslims who choose to borrow with interest “are obligated to repay their entire debt and if they don’t they will prohibited from entering paradise when they die.”