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Neeta Sonalkar

Director of Higher Education Innovation

As Director of Higher Education Innovation at Benefits Data Trust (BDT), Neeta leads BDT’s work to help more students enroll in and graduate from college with reduced financial burden by streamlining access to financial aid and public benefits. She brings over ten years of experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating programs and strategies that advance educational equity. Neeta previously worked at the College Board, where she led national initiatives to improve completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and student public benefits access in close collaboration with BDT. Additionally, she developed college affordability strategies and managed the organization’s strategic planning process. Previously, Neeta ran a national policy and advocacy fellowship for emerging leaders in education and built program evaluation systems at Leadership for Educational Equity. Neeta earned her B.A. in Economics and International Studies from Northwestern University, a Master of Public Policy from the University of Southern California, and is a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs.

Why Benefits Data Trust?

"Working with smart, ambitious, kind people to solve big problems."

Passionate about:

College access, equity, music, reading, cooking


North Caldwell, NJ

If I had chosen another career, I would have been:

A cellist

Hidden Talent most people don’t know about:

My kitchen doubles as a fermentation lab

Can’t go a day without:

Coffee, cuddling my dog Coda