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MOHELA board delays vote on selling student loans

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – The board of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, or MOHELA, decided Friday to delay a vote on selling $350 million worth of student loan assets.

MOHELA is a quasi-governmental agency that offers low-interest loans to college students.

Republican Governor Matt Blunt wants to sell about a quarter of MOHELA's assets to fund biotech and campus building projects around the state.

Blunt spokesman Ed Martin said the seven board members delayed their vote because they feared being individually sued.

He said on Thursday, an official in the office of Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon warned the the board members that they could be individually sued if they voted for the proposal.

"That that would be done at the eleventh hour was done intentionally because the attorney general is against this effort to help our schools and help our students," Martin said. "And unfortunately, he scared people enough that we're going to have to delay this."

An attorney for MOHELA said Nixon's warning included the potential to be sued for violating both their fiduciary duties and in the case of at least one member for potential conflict of interest.

But State Rep. Clint Zweifel, D-Florissant said there are unanswered questions about the governor's plan.

"Number one is we do not have an independent analysis of how future borrowers will be affected," Zweifel said.

The MOHELA board will likely vote on the plan Sept. 27.

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