University continues waiting game for anticipated MOHELA funds

Controversy over the sale of Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority assets continues.

Signed into law May 23, Senate Bill 389 in its final version was supposed to provide $350 million worth of aid, primarily for capital improvements, to schools around the state.

The money comes from the sale of MOHELA assets, loans not yet paid, to other lending agencies. Heavily debated before it hit the governor’s desk it is now being challenged in court.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of two MOHELA borrowers in Cole County on Aug. 9 by John Lichtenegger challenges the idea of using MOHELA funds for building projects rather than for the direct benefit of the borrowers.

Lichtenegger could not be reached for comment.

The bulk of the budget for Missouri Southern’s proposed health-sciences building is supposed to come from the MOHELA sale through the newly formed Lewis and Clark Initiative.

Southern officials are hopeful that the deal will go through as planned.

“We are continuing with the planning stages,” said Rob Yust, interim vice-president of business affairs. “We are going forward with business as usual.”

If all goes as planned Southern hopes to break ground this spring for the health and sciences building.

The Lewis and Clark Initiative pairs MOHELA with the Department of Economic Development, supporting them with federally granted tax-exempt bonds. Southern is to receive $19 million for construction.

The $350 million is to be transferred over the next five years. The law went into effect Aug. 28.