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.
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.
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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