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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Heidi Carl from University of Indianapolis

September 29, 2011

Heidi Carl, Associate Director of Financial Aid and Current President of the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association (ISFAA)

Raina Chezem: What are you most proud of in your financial aid office?

Heidi Carl: I am most proud of our staff team and our dedication to helping students at UIndy. Everyone is very committed to their job and they understand the importance of the role that we play in helping students attend college.

Raina: How did you get into financial aid?

Heidi: I did an internship at Kalamazoo Community College, with the Dean of Students, during my Masters program at Western Michigan University. The Dean had me spend time in a number of different offices on campus so I had a little exposure to the financial aid office but not much. After graduate school I went to work for the YMCA and then one day I decided to put my Masters to work so I started looking for jobs in Higher Education. I was living in Indianapolis and I had a friend at the YMCA who had attended UIndy and she said it would be a great place to work. I kept watching for job openings at UIndy and the first one I thought sounded interesting was in the financial aid office. I applied for the position and Linda Handy hired me and I’ve been here almost 13 years. I did take a short hiatus from financial aid and took a position in our admissions office for a while so I could learn all of the sides of our enrollment management model.

Raina: What do you most like about working in financial aid?

Heidi: I love helping students and families navigate the financial aid maze and get to the end and celebrate their successful achievement of enrolling in college. It can be a very complicated process and I like to help students see that if they just take it one step at a time they can figure out a way to finance their education.

Raina: Who in the financial aid community has been a mentor for you?

Heidi: There are a number of people who have helped me along the way but obviously Linda Handy is the first person that comes to mind. Linda took a chance on hiring me many years ago with my little to no financial aid knowledge and has helped me learn everything I know about financial aid. Many people in our state association have also encouraged me to get involved. Some that I can think of are JoAnn Laugel, Marvin Smith, Kathy Purvis, and Sue Allmon.

Raina: What has been the biggest challenge for your office in the past 12 months?

Heidi: We have noticed an increase in the number of students who have special circumstances due to loss of income or changing family situations. This has been challenging because each case is unique and they take some extra time to process. 

Raina: As ISFAA president, what has been challenging and rewarding about this position?

Heidi: Challenging has been to get enough people to volunteer for everything we would like to accomplish this year. We have an excellent group of core volunteers but I have to be careful that I don’t wear those people out! I think rewarding is all of the people who do step up and volunteer to give back to our profession. We are doing a new mentoring program through ISFAA this year and I was so impressed by the people who volunteered to mentor other professionals in financial aid. I know for me the people in the organization who encouraged me to get involved years ago, are still some of my dearest friends.

Raina: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Heidi: I wanted to be President of the United States! I even wrote an essay in fourth grade about my dream to be the first woman president. I talked about this in my acceptance speech for the ISFAA presidency and I told everyone that Indiana might not be the White House but I finally feel like I have realized one of my life’s goals.

Raina: What do you like to do in your free time?

Heidi: Oh of course I am a shopper. I love my shoes and clothes. I also love to cook and bake. I’m constantly bringing goodies into our office to share with everyone. Other offices know if they are hungry to stop by and see if Heidi baked anything yummy for the day. I also like to read and travel.

Raina: What is one thing most people do not know about you?

Heidi: Most people do not know that I am deathly afraid of spiders. I can’t even look at them on TV or in books or magazines. If I do I have nightmares about them. I know I need to see a psychiatrist for my phobia but who has the time!

Raina Chezem, Midwest Regional Director (IL, IN, MN)

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