The New York State Dormitory Authority's board last week approved the first step toward developing a new $45 million bond-financed pooled student loan program for six upstate higher education institutions, an authority official said Friday.

The proposed sale would mark the dormitory authority's most recent entrance into the student loan financing arena since 1986, when it sold bonds under a different loan program.

When the deal is done, the authority plans to go back to the drafting table to design a new, statewide student loan bonding program, said Thomas A. Devane, deputy executive director of planning and financial analysis for the dormitory authority. The size and scope of the proposed program have not been developed, he added.

The proposed sale still requires a green light from the state's Public Authorities Control Board, which is scheduled to meet on Dec. 11. If approved there, the bond sale documents would be presented to the dormitory authority's board for final approval sometime in early January, Mr. Devane said, adding that the sale could take place in the first quarter of next year.

"We will probably have the bonds credit enhanced," either with bond insurance or a letter of credit, because of the underlying credit quality of the institutions, he noted.

Under the preliminary proposal, the bonds would be secured by a general obligation pledge from each institution, and not the principal and interest payments on the loans, he said.

This new program was put together to meet the needs of the institutions' 1992 academic year, Mr. Devane said. The institutions are Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Albany Medical College, Union College, Skidmore College, The College of St. Rose, and one institution that is yet to be named, he said.

Before the issue is sold, each institution must present its loan needs to the authority. The schools would then draw down money over a two-year period as they originate loans to the students attending the colleges, Mr. Devane said.

The loans in this program would supplement education costs not already covered by payments from students and grants, he noted.

The authority did not send out requests for proposals for this proposed bond offering but left it up to the schools to select an underwriting team that would also assist the schools on how to structure the loan program. The dormitory authority only offered the school advice during the selection of the management team, Mr. Devane said. There will be three co-senior managers and three co-managers.

Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. was named senior manager and bookrunner, he said. In addition, he said Manufacturers Hanover Securities Cor.; Morgan Stanley & Co.; Goldman, Sachs & Co; First Albany Securities Corp.; and J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. were named to the team, but their status as co-senior or co-manager has not yet been determined.

An old student loan bonding program with a $200 million bonding authorization offered only two deals totaling $95 million, Mr. Devane said. A lack of interest in obtaining such loans developed because of changes in the Tax Reform Act of 1986 that affected how consumer loan interest was treated as an income tax deduction, he said. Because such a deduction was going to be phased out, many parents paid for their children's education with home equity loans, which are deductible, he noted.

The bond sale proceeds under the old program were used to provide higher education, institutions with money for loans, and the bonds were secured with the principal and interest payments on the loans, Mr. Devane said.

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