Staff Spotlight – Michael Silvernail

Michael Silvernail
Michael Silvernail

Staff Spotlight – Michael Silvernail

Associate Director, Student Financial Services

What do you do here at HKS?

In my role as Associate Director of Financial Aid I help to make it possible for students to attend the Kennedy School so that upon graduation the can engage in making the Kennedy School’s mission a reality.

My position encompasses three primary domains: working with students, ensuring that HKS complies with federal financial aid regulations, and managing the operational and logistical infrastructure that enables the Office of Student Financial Services to function.

In my role working with students, I meet with students to help them understand what resources are available from both institutional sources and educational loan financing. I counsel students on loan borrowing responsibilities and the opportunities to help mitigate the impact of borrowing.

Additionally, as the Administrative Chair of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), I oversee a committee that helps alumni in modest-paying public service positions repay their student loans.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I derive a great deal of satisfaction from my work as the Administrative Chair of LRAP. The Kennedy School’s support of alumni, who sacrifice by working in modest-paying public service positions, is truly inspiring.

Additionally, I love working with my colleagues throughout degree programs—especially the other members of Student Financial Services and the rest of Enrollment Services.  We come from a variety of backgrounds and perform many different roles but we are all unified by our desire to work with students and enable them follow the Kennedy School’s mission.

Could you share an interesting or strange story from your job?

Several years ago when our office was still located in the Belfer building, I was about to go through a door when a group of people started coming through the other way.  I patiently held the door for them—including the last gentleman who was wearing an odd pair of sunglasses.  Several co-workers commented on my holding the door for Bono.  My response was: “Who?”  They’ve never let me live that down.

Last year we implemented a new component to our financial literacy program—a free online financial literacy program called SALT.  As part of our outreach, I was persuaded to wear a salt shaker costume at a Quorum Call that we sponsored.  The fact that I was willing to be seen in public in it is demonstrable evidence of my support for the program!

What would most students not know about your job or role here at HKS?

In addition to my primary role as a financial aid counselor, I also serve on the MPP Admission Committee as well as occasionally assisting with recruitment.  Being part of students from before they have been even admitted, while they are here at HKS, and then afterwards as alumni as LRAP applicants, gives me a longer and more sustained engagement with students than is true for most of my colleagues at HKS.  I still sometimes hear from students I worked with over 10 years ago and learning about the impact they’ve had and the good that they’re doing makes my job worthwhile.