Neel, a Louisville native who assumed her new role June 2, started out as an undergraduate at UofL as a federal work-study (FWS) student in the financial aid office.

“It taught me to take the opportunity to learn as many new things as I could because you never know when a FWS job could turn into something much more. I have used the skills I learned as a FWS in every position I have held and I treated my FWS position like it was a regular job and it paid off in the end,” Neel said.

In her new position, Neel said she hopes to make the UofL Financial Aid office a model for the country.

“The University of Louisville Financial Aid Office has always been the office in the state of Kentucky that other financial aid offices look to as the ‘leader,’ if you will,” she said. “I want us to move to a regional leader first, and then expand our reach to become a national leader in financial aid practices and innovation in my tenure here.”

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in education counseling psychology in 1993, she worked as a financial aid counselor and then assistant director for scholarships and training at the university.

She earned her master’s degree in education in 2004, and that same year became director of student financial aid at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She later worked as director of student financial services at Daymar College in Louisville, and most recently has been senior associate director for student financial aid at Bellarmine University in Louisville.

She has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and as president of the Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. She was also president of the Kentucky Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and a conference chair for the Tennessee Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.