Meet Rob Kniss

Rob Kniss, director of student financial services

Director of Student Financial Services


Education: B.A., Michigan State University, 2003, M.A., Michigan State University, 2011, PH.D, Michigan State University, 2017

Hometown: Haslett, Michigan

Downtime: Spending time with my family.

Hello everyone! I am Rob Kniss, the Director for Student Financial Services for Albion College. Before coming to Albion I was an Assistant Director in the Office of Financial Aid at Michigan State University. Where I also earned my B.A., my M.A, and my Ph.D, with a focus in Higher Education Administration.
When I am not at work I enjoy running, playing basketball, and spending time with my family. I have three children, two daughters and one son. My two daughters both enjoy gymnastics and my son plays basketball.

Financial aid tip: Make sure to file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when it becomes available every year. Even if you are unsure about taking student loans. There are grant programs that students are eligible for but only if you file your FAFSA. You might miss out on gift aid if you do not file.

Build Albion Fellows Application Process

Application Process

Step 1. Contact your Admissions Counselor to determine your eligibility.

Step 2. Receive Build Albion Fellows Applications via email or U.S. mail, beginning Wednesday, January 4, 2017.

Step 3. Submit an application to the Office of Admission by Friday, March 10, 2017.

Important Dates

Wednesday, February 15: Complete FAFSA

Friday, March 10: All applications are due to the College Admissions Office by 5 p.m.

Saturday, April 1: Interview Day

Thursday, April 27: BAF Class of 2021 Dinner Celebration

Early June: New Fellows Retreat

Admission Counselors

Rhiki Swinton
Phone: 517/629-0769

Lloyd McPartlin
Phone: 517/629-0472

Eligible for the program? Apply today

Build Albion Fellows Details

Build Albion Fellows help with an Albion community park.

Program Eligibility

  1. Live within the former Albion Public Schools district
  2. Admitted to Albion College as a first-year student; or a middle college
  3. File Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); full Pell Grant eligibility

If you do not fully meet the qualification requirements, you may still be eligible, given that enrollment space is available. Please contact your Admissions Counselor to learn more about your eligibility. 

Eligible for the program? Apply today

Program Basics

Summer Program

During the summer before the first semester, you will participate in a short retreat. You will engage with campus, faculty, and staff and be introduced to the program that will shape the next four years—and the rest of your life! For approximately 20-25 hours per week, you will participate in community service, weekly meetings, project development, leadership training, and on- and off-campus networking.

We understand that fun and excitement are important parts of education and summer! We will explore what other areas are doing to revitalize their people and cities.

At the end of the summer, we will prepare you for the coming semester with another retreat. This will help you navigate campus and gear up for classes, jumpstarting your transition to campus life.

Academic Semester

During the academic year, a 1/4 unit academic course reserved specifically for Fellows provides structure and support for effective service and community engagement. Fellows will participate in a project-based model of service to the community, and dedicated faculty and staff will guide you and work alongside you. The course will challenge you to think about leadership and community building from different perspectives. We are committed to helping you navigate and change the world around you. As you grow and learn over the course of 4 years, your responsibility and leadership in service will increase. We strongly encourage Fellows to participate in clubs and organizations and take on leadership roles as part of their Albion College experience.

14 Steps to Financial Success

  1. 1  Complete the FAFSA

    We recommend everyone complete the FAFSA. Entering Action applicants should complete it by December 1.  Everyone else we recommend March 1.  Current students by January 1.

  2. 2  Review your financial aid award

    We’ll send new students financial aid notifications beginning in mid-November. Current students will be emailed their notice beginning in mid- January.

  3. 3  Develop your Albion Financing Plan

    Work with your admission or financial services counselor to explore your options and develop a plan to cover all of your college costs.

  4. 4  Visit your ACIS account to see what resources are available to you.
    • Use the username and password provided in your award notification to log into ACIS.
    • Review and accept the Terms and Conditions of your scholarship.
    • Accept Your Awards
  5. 5  Review the Student Requirements in ACIS to ensure your file is complete
    • Recommended deadline is June 15th
  6. 6  Write Your Scholarship Thank You Note
    • In ACIS click on the name of your scholarship to get information on your donor and instructions on how to write your letter.
  7. 7  Complete Direct Loan Master Promissory Note (MPN)
    • Go to
    • Sign in with the FSA ID used for the FAFSA
    • Sign the Master Promissory Note (subsidized/unsubsidized)
  8. 8  Complete Direct Loan Counseling
    • Go to
    • Sign in with the FSA ID used for the FAFSA
    • Complete Entrance Counseling (undergraduate)
  9. 9    Find a Job
    • Work-study/Albion Work positions are available at
    • Complete the required paperwork before beginning employment.
  10. 10  Authorize Access
  11. 11  Check Your Bill
    • Your bill will be emailed to you at the beginning of each month starting in July. You are responsible for reviewing it and paying the balance owed.
  12. 12  Consider a PLUS or alternative loan
    • If you need additional resources to help cover your bill consider a PLUS or alternative loans
  13. 13  Request a refund
    • If your account is paid and there is extra money remaining you may request a refund of those funds by emailing .
  14. 14  Read your email

Special Scholarships and Programs

Scholarship Opportunities for Upper Peninsula Seniors

Upper Peninsula students can earn non-competitive Albion scholarships of up to $112,000 awarded at up to $28,000 per year. These scholarships are based on academic achievement and are awarded at the time a student is accepted for admission. Additionally, there are two major, competitive, Albion scholarships which Upper Peninsula students may receive.

Read More

Distinguished Awards Programs

Select students are invited to compete in the Distinguished Scholars Program each winter. Over $250,000 in scholarship funds are awarded to those students who excel during the program. One participant will receive a full tuition scholarship.

Read More

Build Albion Fellows Program

Up to 10 Build Albion Fellows in each entering class will receive benefit for four years. Students will also work in Albion community, gaining career skills and experience.

Read More

Benefits for Veterans

If you're eligible for prorated veterans' benefits, you'll receive significant assistance toward the cost of attendance. Depending upon your military benefits, you may receive a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books and supplies.

Read More

Aid for International Students

Merit scholarships and financial assistance is available for international students.  For more information contact the International recruiter.

Read More

Distinguished Awards Programs

Distinguished Scholars Program

Select students are invited to compete in the Distinguished Scholars Program each winter. Participants will earn the opportunity for a full-tuition scholarships. In addition, participants may qualify for a $1,000 Experience Voucher. This voucher can be used to help supplement the cost for things such as first-year experience trips, conferences, research or other hands-on Albion experiences. This program allows students to demonstrate their academic interests and talents while engaging with faculty. Invited students will be notified approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the competition.

Distinguished Artist Program

Selects students are invited to complete in this program to demonstrate their talent in the arts – creative writing, art, music, theatre or the integrated arts. Up to $1,000 in Albion Experiential Opportunities voucherswill be awarded to students who demonstrate artistic excellence. One participant will receive a full tuition scholarship. Invited students will be notified approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the competition.

Build Albion Fellows

Build Albion Fellows hosted a community basketball tournament.

Albion College's Build Albion Fellows program is intended to strengthen the bonds between the College and its host community by providing a college education and meaningful work experience for local students, while also benefiting the community through student service.

What does that mean? Each year up to 10 students from the Greater Albion area and surrounding communities will be offered the opportunity to serve as a Build Albion Fellow. These students will be provided with tuition, room and board for four years in exchange for working in and serving the Albion community.

Who are we looking for?

Our Build Albion Fellows will be dedicated to:

  • Serving their community
  • Success in academics
  • Leadership Development
  • Creating meaningful change

Learn more about details of the program to find out if you are eligible, and view the application requirements.

You can also pdfdownload our flyer to learn more!

Financial Aid Myths and Misperceptions

Myth: My parents make too much money to qualify for financial aid.
Reality: There is no income limit to qualifying for financial aid. Many factors aside from income are taken into account when determining your eligibility. Albion students receive over $36 million in grant aid.

Myth: Only students with good grades get financial aid.
Reality: While a high GPA does help in qualifying for an Albion scholarship, good grades do not have any impact on your eligibility for need-based financial aid (grants, loans, work-study). 100% of Albion students receive financial support.

Myth: Only minorities receive financial aid.
Reality: Need-based financial aid funds are based on your financial eligibility, not on any other factor. The FAFSA doesn’t even ask for information regarding race or ethnicity.

Myth: The forms are too hard to fill out.
Reality: The FAFSA is easier than ever, especially if you fill it out online at There are detailed instructions for every question, step by step. For most families, it takes about 20-25 minutes to complete the application the first time and about 15 minutes for renewal FAFSAs.

Myth: If I take out student loans, I will graduate with major debt.
Reality: The average Albion student graduates with a loan balance around $28,880. Depending on your repayment plan, your monthly payment would fall between $104 - $300 month, which is about the cost of a new car.

Aid at Albion

Paying for college. We’re here to help.

In fact, we help 99% of the students enrolled at Albion providing over $40 million in grant support last year. Here’s how we helped:

In 2016-17:

  • 83% of freshmen received need-based financial aid, with an average award of $40,500
  • First-year students are receiving over $12 million in grant aid from Albion
  • The average grant/scholarship award to freshmen is $34,250
  • Grant aid totals over $40 million for all Albion students
IncomePercent of Enrolling Class     Average Grant or Scholarship     Range of Grant or Scholarship
0 - $29,999         19%      $42,116       $28,730 - $52,925
$30,000 - $ 59,999         22%      $40,746       $31,030 - $51,775
$60,000 - $89,999         14%      $35,631       $19,000 - $49,675
$90,000 - $119,999         13%      $31,089       $19,230 - $45,280
$120,000 - $149,999           6%      $26,273       $19,030 - $31,530
$150,000 and above         18%      $24,644       $16,000 - $41,570


We understand. College costs can be daunting. But now more than ever, your college education is one of the most important investments your family can make.

Affordability is our goal, and we’re here to help families access all of the financial resources that are available. During the 2017-18 academic year, Albion awarded more than $36 million in scholarships and grants.

98% of our 2014 graduates earned their degree in four years or less. 92% of them reported that they were employed or in graduate school within six months. Compare this to many public universities, where 50% or less complete their degrees in four years.

Despite the assumption that liberal arts colleges are too expensive, our average federal student debt for 2016 graduates was $28,880, comparable to the national rate. Our default rate is only 3.5%, which is much lower than the national average of 10%. This means that almost 97% of our students achieve outcomes that make their debt manageable.

To get a better idea of how Albion can be an affordable investment for you, visit our Net Price Calculator. The Calculator gives you an idea, within $1,000, of the total scholarship and aid that Albion awards.

Our financial services team has outlined every aspect of the financial aid process, from scholarships and loans to estimating your expected family contribution (EFC). We know it's a lot of information and we’re here to help if you have questions. Contact us today!

10 Tips About Financial Aid

10 Tips for About Financial Aid


Apply for admission.

When reviewing your admission application we'll also look for any scholarships for which you're eligible.


Complete your FAFSA.

Need help? Check out this video or contact our office at or 517/629-0440.


Review your Financial Aid Offer.

Once we've received your FAFSA we'll send you a financial aid notification that outlines any grants, loans or work-study that you may receive. We'll also include a link to the Albion College Information System (ACIS). This is your on-line portal that will give you all the details about each award and any outstanding requirements.


Complete your Financing Plan.

After you receive your aid offer we'll send you your personalized financing plan that allows you to consider other resources that you'll have available to assist with your college costs.  


Accept your aid.

Log into your ACIS account and accept any loans or work that you'd like. You'll also need to accept the Terms and Conditions for your scholarships.


Complete your loan counseling and promissory notes.

If you've accepted any loans you'll need to complete a promissory note – that's your agreement to repay the loan. And, you'll also be required to complete loan counseling. You can do both of those on-line. Your ACIS information will have the links for you to complete those requirements.


Make a plan to pay your bill.

We'll send your fall semester in early July. You can make sure all of your financial aid is ready to be applied to your bill by checking your financial aid requirements in ACIS. If you need additional resources to pay your bill now is the time to explore those.


Consider other resources.

There are additional loan programs – the PLUS loan for parents and alternative loans - to help cover your costs. You can learn more about those on our loan page. The college also has a payment plan through TuitionPay.


Authorize your parents to have access.

If you'd like to have your parents get a copy of your bill you'll need to add them as an authorized user on your account. You can sign them up on our Authorized Users page. You also may provide them access to view your ACIS account under the Proxy Menu option.


Stay connected.

Read your emails and check your ACIS account to make sure your file is complete. Follow us on Facebook to get updates on available scholarships and learning opportunities through the Financial Skills Center.


Ready to get started?

Start with our Scholarship Calculator, and get 10 tips on filling out the FAFSA

Apply to Albion

10 Tips for Filling Out The FAFSA

10 Tips for Filling out the FAFSA

The college search is an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking time—for parents as well as students. There are so many things to do to prepare to send your child off to college. One “to-do list” item many parents dread is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. We’re here to help alleviate some of that FAFSA anxiety. Keep these tips in mind.


Don’t panic.

It’s not as bad as you think and we’re here to help.


Both you and your student will need an FSA ID.

This allows you to electronically sign the FAFSA and gain access to federal student aid websites. You can get an FSA ID at Each FSA ID will need a unique email address.


The FAFSA is free.

Don’t pay to submit the form or have anyone complete the form for you. If you need assistance, contact our office. File your FAFSA at:


You've got all the tax information you need.

The FAFSA uses your information from last year's tax return. You'll have the option to link your tax information directly from the IRS website to save time and increase accurracy. 


Submit your FAFSA early.

The FAFSA is available on October 1. We recommend you complete it when you complete your admission application to ensure you're eligible for all available funds. You can submit your FAFSA at any time, but we recommend you do it early to help you plan.


Have the information you need before you start.

This includes your FSA ID, social security numbers, 2015 federal tax returns –or estimates, bank and brokerage statements.


Make sure both the parent and student sign the FAFSA.

The FAFSA won’t be processed until both the parent and student provide an FSA ID or signature.


Review your Student Aid Report.

This is your confirmation that your FAFSA was processed and provides important follow up information. It also provides instructions on how to update your FAFSA, if needed.


Read email.

Make sure your student reads any email sent by the FAFSA processor or the financial aid office. Requests for additional information will be sent to the email address he or she submitted on the admission application.


Need more help?

Check out this video or contact our office at or 517/629.0440.



Ready to get started?

Start with our Scholarship Calculator, and get 10 tips about financial aid.

Apply to Albion

Scholarship Opportunities for Upper Peninsula Seniors

Scholarship Opportunities for High School Seniors Residing in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Up to Full-Tuition

Upper Peninsula students can earn non-competitive, merit-based scholarships, which are based on high school academic achievement and are awarded at the time a student is admitted to Albion College. To learn more about these scholarships, please visit Albion’s scholarship calculator.

Additionally, in accordance with the wishes of James A. and Verle A. Klungness, ’50, and William H. and Clifford G. Anderson, ’37, Albion offers a number of full-tuition scholarships to incoming students from the Upper Peninsula. As U.P. residents themselves, the Klungness and Anderson families maintained a strong connection to Albion and wish for others to have similar, life-changing experiences. These scholarships are competitive, and require additional credentials, along with the general application for admission.

U.P. Scholarship Application Process - to be completed before December 1 of your senior year.

Notify us.

By email, notify the Office of Admission of intent to compete for the Klungness and Anderson Scholarships. Please email Corey Grazul at .


Submit a general application for admission and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). U.P. Scholarship candidates must be admitted to Albion and have a FAFSA on file.


In approximately 500 words, describe how living in the Upper Peninsula has impacted your life. Personal stories, family legacies, cultural ties; we want to know how the U.P. has shaped your identity.

Letter of recommendation.

Consider asking a teacher, coach, pastor, employer, or other community leader who knows you well. We would like to hear about your character, resolve, motivations, idiosyncrasies, and/or abilities in and out of the classroom.

Campus Visit.

A visit to campus is required for scholarship candidacy. We want your decision to attend Albion to be more than simply a financial one. A visit during your junior year, or fall of senior year, will count.


In person or through video, we’ll ask you some serious and senseless questions, all to get to know you better. Most who choose Albion do so because it feels right. We want our interview to reflect the spirit of our school.

Students who are selected to receive a U.P. Scholarship can expect notification by January 31 of their senior year. If offered a U.P. Scholarship, students must accept and submit their enrollment deposit by February 28 of their senior year.

Please contact Corey Grazul, Associate Director of Admission, with questions regarding these scholarship opportunities. 517/629.0757 or .

Student Account Bill

An Albion College student reads on the campus quadrangle. Robinson Hall is in the background.You've got your financial aid, you've developed your plan, now it's time to put it all together on your student account bill.

Getting Your Bill

In early July the College begins sending notification of your bill. This notification is sent as an email to you. If you'd like to have your parents get a copy you'll need to set them up as authorized users. If you're an entering student, you can do that at SOAR or by logging into ACIS and visiting the eBill section.

Understanding Your Bill

The charges reflected are only for the fall semester. Your financial aid offer and your financing plan are for the whole year, so the numbers will be different. Your bill will include your tuition, fees, housing and meal charges.

Financial Aid on Your Bill

Some of your financial aid will be reflected on your bill.

Some won't -- here's why:

  • Federal funds cannot be credited to your student account until ten days before the start of the semester. That includes, Pell and Supplemental Grants and Direct Loans.

  • Michigan Tuition Grant funds will be applied when the State confirms your eligibility.

  • Work-Study/Albion Work funds must be earned.  You will receive a paycheck for the time you work.  You may use those funds for incidental expenses or make a payment on your student account.


  • If you haven't completed all the requirements, we can't put funds on your account.

What Does 'Authorized Financial Aid' Mean?

These funds are all set and ready to pay. We are waiting until ten days before the beginning of the semester to put the funds on your student account (it's a federal rule, we can't put it on until then). These funds are already subtracted from the amount due on your bill.

What Are 'Memo Items'?

These are funds that are in process, meaning you are eligible for them, but you haven't completed all the requirements yet. In order to have these funds credited to your student account you need to complete the requirements—you can view those in your ACIS account.

Financing Plan for Entering Students

A student in Stockwell Library's Cutler Commons.We understand that putting all the pieces together to finance a college education can be confusing, so we've developed a personalized Plan to help navigate all the options to help pay your student account bill. Your Plan will be sent to you in the spring before you enroll.

Albion Costs

These are the items that will appear on your student account with the College. You'll need to pay these costs or have a payment plan in place before the start of the academic year.

Scholarships and Grants

Grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid. Your Albion merit scholarship is renewed for four years (two for transfer students), as long as you are making academic progress. You will need to agree to the Terms and Conditions in ACIS before your scholarship is credited to your account. Other grants and scholarships are usually based on financial need and a FAFSA needs to be completed each year to determine if you remain eligible for them. You may be required to submit a thank you note for your scholarship, check ACIS to get more information.


These funds are offered to you to help meet your costs; you do not have to accept them if you have other resources available. In order to receive loan funds you must complete a promissory note and entrance counseling. Instructions on how to do so are in ACIS. You are responsible for repaying those loans when you leave school. Loan funds can be applied to your student account when all the requirements are met.


Work-study funds are earned by working on-campus or with a community organization. You get a regular pay check that you can use to pay incidentals or apply to your student account.

Student Resources

You can use this section to calculate your contributions from savings, outside scholarships you've earned or funds you plan on borrowing through an outside bank or lender. You can add those up and place the total under the 'My Plan' section.

Parent Resources

This section allows you to include contributions from savings or current income. It can also reflect resources from the PLUS Loan (a loan parents can borrow up to the cost of attendance) or available payment plans. Total those amounts and place that in the 'My Plan' section.

My Plan

We've included your Albion costs that will be billed to you, as well as your financial aid resources. Using the amounts you've included from the student and parent resources sections, you can subtract all of your resources to determine your remaining direct cost. This is the amount you'll need to pay to the College.

Indirect Costs

These expenses are variable depending upon your spending patterns. The amounts we've listed are typical for most students, you can change them depending upon your spending habits.

Bottom Line

Taking your remaining direct cost from above and adding your indirect costs you can see what's left. The goal is to have this amount equal zero, so you know all of your expenses are covered. If it's not then you'll want to either reduce your indirect costs, look at how to add some additional resources or a combination.

More Articles ...