Legislative Discussion on MOHELA, Student Loans Planned for March 10



March 6, 2006 – A panel of elected officials will participate in a legislative discussion on the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA), student loans and other topics important to students March 10 at Southeast Missouri State University.

The event is scheduled for noon in Glenn Auditorium of Dempster Hall.

The panel will include Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Rep. Nathan Cooper, Rep. Scott Lipke, Rep. Billy Pat Wright and Rep. Peter Myers.

Adam Hanna, Student Government president at Southeast, said the panel, among other topics, will discuss Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s proposed Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. The initiative, as proposed by Blunt, would use assets from the sale of MOHELA loans to provide a one-time infusion of about $300 million for construction projects at state universities, $100 million for an endowed scholarship fund, $20 million for endowed professorships and $30 million on business incubators focusing on technology initiatives.

The MOHELA Board has proposed an alternative to the governor’s original proposal under which MOHELA would be sold to a private entity and its assets used for the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. The alternative plan which has been endorsed by Blunt, calls for MOHELA to divest about $2.4 billion of their $5 billion in assets. Under this alternative plan, MOHELA will continue to exist but with a smaller loan portfolio, that would be rebuilt over a period of several years.

When first proposed by Blunt, the River Campus project at Southeast was not among the list of projects to benefit from the sale of MOHELA loans. The legislative panel likely will discuss whether some of the assets from the sale of MOHELA loans should be directed to the River Campus project.

“MOHELA has been funded by students and alumni at Southeast for years,” Hanna said. “So they should have a say in how the money is used.”

The event is open to University students, faculty and staff. After an explanation of the issue and the proposed plans, those who attend will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion with the elected officials, Hanna said.

Campus sponsors of the event are Student Government, Faculty Senate and the Office of the President.

Questions about the forum can be directed to Rep. Nathan Cooper at (573) 751-1443.