Jewish Journal

Changes to British student loans pose problems for Muslims

by Brad A. Greenberg

August 23, 2011 | 2:42 pm

Speaking of law school, getting a legal education is expensively. Really expensive. Try $44,500 a year for in-state tuition at UCLA. Which is why a lot of law students accrue crippling debt along with that J.D.

If only there was a way around paying not only that debt back but also the interest ...

In Britain, Muslims appear to have found a way. It’s called religious observance. Sharia forbids Muslims from paying interest, so until now the interest on their loans has been commensurate with inflation, “arrangement that apparently Muslim students found acceptable,” according to Howard Friedman. But things are changing.

The Daily Mail reports:

Until now they have paid the market rate of inflation but the reforms mean students who go on to earn more than £21,000 will have to pay interest of up to 3 per cent.


Mohammed Ahmed-Sheikh, 17, says the changes will discourage him from applying to university next year.

‘The fees are the reason I’m having doubts. I’m Muslim and loans are against my religion,’ he told The Independent.

Ahmad Mitoubsi, 21, who graduated this year, added: ‘We’ve just had to adapt to the British system or else I couldn’t have gone to uni.’

The article doesn’t expressly say it, but it sounds like the British government has subsidized higher education for Muslims under the old plan. Even the new 3 percent will be still a steal for student loans. I think the U.S. federal stafford loan is more than double that. I wonder how American Muslims deal with student loans.

Back across the pond, Muslims groups are pushing for an alternative plan that would enable Muslim students needing loans to remain in compliance with Sharia’s usury prohibition. But the story reports that it could be a few years in limbo before such a plan went into effect.

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