Long recognized for his business success and philanthropic endeavors, in recent years Refel Rushing has turned his attention to a new pursuit: Christian music. Drawing on his talents as a composer and singer, he is recording a nine-song collection of contemporary Christian songs. Once completed, Mr. Rushing intends to share the recordings with religious institutions across the country and donate proceeds from album sales to nonprofit organizations that aid a variety of causes.
Refel Rushing made a name for himself with decades of leadership in the field of student loans and educational financing. In the late 1970s, Mr. Rushing founded LoanSTAR Funding Group, Inc., an innovative firm in higher education lending. During its years in business, the Bryan, Texas-based corporation provided more than $3 billion in federally insured funds to students pursuing an education or residing in Texas. By 2005, Refel Rushing’s company had grown to number more than 100 employees and operated in 17 states and was subsequently sold to Nelnet, Inc.
Besides helping to fund higher education in Texas, Refel Rushing led the creation of finance entities in other states. In 1980, he formed the California Higher Education Loan Authority (CHELA). Over the last 31 years, the program has supplied approximately $5 billion to California residents and students. Today, CHELA, which operates as an educational foundation, is regarded as one of nation’s largest and most respected organizations.
Early in his career, Refel Rushing gained an understanding of tax-exempt financial instruments while working in institutional investing at the New York and Dallas offices of Kidder, Peabody & Co. At that time, universities and colleges were barred from issuing municipal bonds that could help them to secure additional federally guaranteed student loans. By lobbying the State of Texas, Internal Revenue Service, and U.S. Department of Education, Mr. Rushing enabled these schools to sell tax-exempt bonds, thereby offering a new stream of funding for college-bound students.