The CSS/Financial Aid Profile is an online aid application used by approximately 400 colleges and programs. It is administered by the College Board, the organization behind the SAT and other standardized tests.
Unlike the more widely used Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA), which is required for any kind of federal and most state aid; the CSS Profile is just for private, non-federal aid. The CSS Profile collects more detailed information about your family’s finances and considers some assets that the FAFSA does not. Colleges may also have their own separate financial aid applications. Check the list of requirements for each school your child is applying to, and also be sure to pay close attention to their admission and financial aid deadlines.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is free to file. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE requires a fee of $25 for the first school and $16 for each additional school or scholarship program requiring the form. However, first-time applicants from families with low income of approximately $45,000 or less may be considered for a fee waiver to allow the student to apply to a combination of up to eight colleges or universities or scholarship programs without a charge. A fee waiver may also be granted if the student used an SAT fee waiver or the student is an orphan or ward of the court under the age of 24.
Like the FAFSA, the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE can be submitted on or after October 1 each year. Keep in mind that schools and scholarship programs have individual deadlines that occur throughout the year, so it's important to check with each individual school or program for their specific submission deadlines. It's advised that you complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE online at least two weeks before each deadline.
For more information on the application process, check out An Overview of the 2018-19 CSS Profile from the College Board.
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