Nearly every student at ENC has met with Melinda (Mindy) Vazquez, the school’s bursar. A bursar is a professional financial administrator at a college or university.
Students find dealing with financial issues stressful, especially when decisions that seem out of their hands could affect their ability to attend classes. Students often blame the person who they see as the face of the obstacle preventing them from getting into the classes they want. Some students feel that she is slow to respond to emails, and she isn’t in her office when they need to see her. Mindy Vasquez wants students to know that she is here to help, not hinder them.
I recently had the privilege to interview Ms. Vasquez to ask her questions in the hope that people would have a better understanding of all the things she has done and is willing to do for our student body.
Vasquez oversees 565 undergrad students, but sometimes helps with the Adult Studies students. When asked what the hardest part about her jobs was, Vasquez responded, “The hardest part of the job would be having to tell students that they can’t return [to ENC] because of their finances or having to drop schedules due to financial situations.”
I asked Ms. Vasquez what she would tell students who are frustrated with their financial situation. She recommended getting all the paperwork in and all the online requirements completed as soon as possible.
“I usually try to work with families and students through this process. I want to make sure they have time to get everything done, but they have to go through Financial Aid first,” Vasquez said. “I try to give students advice so they know they have options: outside loans or scholarships, or give them the option of a payment plan.”
Vasquez believes there has been so much miscommunication between Financial Aid and students because students often think she is Financial Aid.
“I handle billing and receipts,” Vasquez explained. “I can only do so much work with individuals, and students need to understand my role within the Financial Aid office.”
She also included that students often don’t read their emails properly, or even at all. Vasquez stated she is specific about the information she needs from students in order to help them, but miscommunication happens when students don’t fully read the information she gives them. Students need to accept some of the responsibility for doing their share of the work to ensure their bills are paid and they are allowed into class.
I mentioned to Ms. Vasquez that many students have been dropped from classes due to financial aid issues. I asked how this could have been prevented. She responded, “This year, I have been sending out information 24/7 about Web Advisor and portal because portal has the same information that we see on our end.”
She acknowledges that she knows students believe she is unpleasant to deal with, but she adds, “I have had people change their minds once I work with them though.”
Students just must be patient and attentive to their accounts to see if anything changes, but she is always willing to work with students to “get them in the back door and have a seat.”
When asked what she wants the students to know about her, she stated, “I want people to know I am here to help them with the process, I want to avoid a dropped schedule. If you have questions, Financial Aid and I are here to help.”
She does not want people to be in fear if they need to go see her for anything. She said, “if there is some way I can help with Financial Aid, I will try and if not, I will go directly to the Financial Aid office and get them involved.”