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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: LeeAnne Cardali, Mercer University

November 30, 2010

LeeAnne Cardali, Associate Director of Financial Aid at Mercer University in Georgia


Kristi Jones: How many staff members work in your office?

LeeAnne Cardali: There are eight staff members in our main office.

Kristi: What are you most proud of within your Financial Aid Office?

LeeAnne: We have loyal staff members in our office.  I have worked under the same Financial Aid Director for the entire 14 years that I have been at Mercer.  Carol has been a great mentor.

Kristi: What has been the biggest challenge for your office during the past 12 months?

LeeAnne: Converting to a new computer system, CampusView, has been challenging for us.  I am pulled into meetings three days a week to help with implementing the system, which limits the time that I am able to help my students.

Kristi: As a long-time Direct Lending school, do you have any tips for schools that are settling in?

LeeAnne: Use your contacts at COD and make sure you have a designated individual.  I have two contacts that are extremely knowledgeable.  Become friends with your contact(s).

Kristi: What do you like most about your job?

LeeAnne: The students; they are the best part of my job.  I love counseling them and helping find solutions to make sure they are successful at Mercer.

Kristi: What is the tradition of the bronze statue of the gentleman that sits in the center of your Macon campus?

LeeAnne: The statue of Jesse Mercer sits casually on a bench, looking ready for a conversation with a passing student.  The statue was unveiled in 1995 and, occasionally, the statue’s head is rubbed by a frantic or uneasy student, hoping the tradition of good luck will work on the upcoming exam.  Beginning in 2009, freshmen and graduating seniors began rubbing his head for the first and last times on campus, a recent tradition that has quickly taken root.

Kristi: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

LeeAnne: I wanted to be a lawyer.

Kristi: I hear you are a reconciliation queen.  Do you have any advice to help calm school fears about the process?

LeeAnne: Create your own school-specific reports and compare them with the data you receive from COD.  It is helpful to use information from your own SIS.  Also, reconciliation is easy as long as you keep up with it.  Try to do it at least once a month.

Kristi: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

LeeAnne: I love to read and enjoy traveling with my family.   I also started playing tennis with my daughter.

Kristi: What is your favorite movie or TV show?

LeeAnne: My favorite TV shows are Bones and NCIS.  My favorite movies are Gone with the Wind and Dirty Dancing.

Kristi: Name one thing most people do not know about you.

LeeAnne: When I was growing up, I wanted to be a nun.  My mom worked at St. Mary’s hospital, and every time I went to visit her at work, I always liked Sister Mary Catherine’s dress.

Kristi: Where do you think schools should focus their efforts with regard to default prevention strategies given the industry’s move to a 3-year CDR model?

LeeAnne: We need to focus on pumping up staff to help with these initiatives.  The biggest concern is not having enough staff to manage this additional workload, which should be a full-time job.


Kristi Jones, Southern Regional Director (AL, FL, GA, MS, PR), Nelnet Partner Solutions


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