John Hanson Savings & Loan raised $21 million yesterday in an initial public offering undertaken in part to get the Beltsville savings and loan out of debt.

Hanson had more than enough buyers lined up for the offering's 3 million shares, sold at $7 each, when the sale opened at 10 a.m.

Hanson will keep $19.38 million of the money raised, with the remaining $1.62 million -- or 54 cents a share -- going in fees to the 20 securities firms underwriting the offering.

The lead underwriters of the stock were Prudential Bache Securities Inc. of New York and Johnston Lemon and Co. Inc. of Washington. Underwriters help a company set the price of an offering. They also provide insurance, or "underwriting," by promising to pay that price and buy any shares that go unsold.

Hanson officials have said that one reason the thrift is raising money in the public sector is to retire $11.3 million in notes that it received last summer from the State of Maryland. The notes boosted Hanson's net worth -- the difference between assets and obligations -- so that it could meet requirements to obtain federal insurance to cover the accounts of its depositors.

The rest of the money will be used to boost Hanson's working capital and for general operating purposes.

John Hanson has assets of $640 million and 23 offices in Maryland and Delaware. It is a federally insured, Maryland-chartered stock institution.

Yesterday's public offering brings the total outstanding shares in the S&L to 5.38 million and reduces insider control to 25.2 percent of outstanding stock.

The closing bid price for Hanson stock, which is traded in the over-the-counter market under the symbol "JHSL," was $8.75. Its high during the day was $9.75.

The initial public offering comes just four weeks after Baltimore Bancorp, a Maryland bank holding company, offered to buy Hanson for $15 a share on the stipulation that the initial public offering be canceled.