The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is a financial aid application form produced by the College Board’s College Scholarship Service. It is sometimes referred to as the CSS PROFILE or as the PROFILE form.
Many schools and scholarship programs use the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE as a supplement to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Some schools use the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE instead of just the FAFSA because they believe that by collecting more-detailed information from students and their families, they can make a more sensitive analysis of a family’s financial capacity to pay for college-related expenses. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is used primarily by about 225 of the most selective colleges and universities as well as about 125 private scholarship programs for determining eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as institutional scholarship, grant, student employment and loan programs.
There are significant differences between the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and the FAFSA. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE also collects more detailed information about a family’s financial circumstances and contains about 50% more questions than the FAFSA.
CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE Application Costs
Unlike the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which is free to file, the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE requires a fee of $25 for the first school (one-time registration fee of $9 fee plus $16 to send the processing results to one college, university or scholarship program), and $16 for each additional school or scholarship program requiring the form. However, first-time applicants from families with low income and assets will automatically 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.
The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE can be submitted as early as October 1 each year. Schools and scholarship programs have individual deadlines which span throughout the year, so it’s important to check with each school or program for their submission deadlines. Make sure to complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE online at least two weeks before each deadline.
How to File
- Create a College Board Account
In order to file the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, the student will need to register at the College Board web site before logging in to the CSS PROFILE site with his or her College Board account.
- Gather Documentation Before Starting the Application
Just like when completing the FAFSA, it’s beneficial to have financial records on hand before starting the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. Gather all tax and financial records that are available. Students may also want to complete the pre-application worksheet available at the College Board web site.
- Complete the Online Application
Start the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE form by visiting the PROFILE application site. After logging in, the student will see a welcome screen:
Select "Register for PROFILE" to begin the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application. Note that the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application questions may be customized by the schools and/or scholarship programs to which the student is applying. After completing the CSS/ Financial Aid PROFILE, the student will need to enter payment information before the CSS PROFILE can be processed.
For more information on the application process, check out An Overview of the 2018-19 CSS Profile from the College Board.