Preparing for college? Yet paying for college can be difficult, and students and families may not be thinking about how to cover college costs during the excitement of deciding on which college to attend.If you looking for free money for college, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® (CSS PROFILE), or in some cases both.
To completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to determine eligibility for financial aid, some students may need to also complete the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile.The CSS PROFILE is the financial aid application used by the College Board. Many colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on the CSS PROFILE to help them award nonfederal student aid funds.In addition to filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, the form that qualifies students for federal grants, loans, and work-study jobs, some students will also have to file the College Scholarship Service, or CSS, Profile.
The PROFILE form is administered by the College Scholarship Service (CSS), the financial aid division of the College Board. The CSS PROFILE is required by many private colleges and universities to determine your eligibility for non-government financial aid, such as the institution’s own grants, loans, and scholarships.The CSS PROFILE asks questions about the financial status of the student and the student’s parents. The information the student gives in the CSS PROFILE is then sent to colleges or universities that the student specifies.
Along with the FAFSA, the CSS PROFILE is the most common financial aid application that students in the United States fill out.
The differences between the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and the FAFSA are:
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE (CSS PROFILE) are the main financial aid application forms. Each form uses a different needs analysis formula. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) uses the Federal Methodology (FM) for determining financial need, while the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE uses an Institutional Methodology (IM). The differences are as the following:
- Submission dates: The CSS PROFILE can be submitted in the fall, and beginning in 2016 the FAFSA can be submitted as early as October 1st.
- Specific questions: The CSS PROFILE contains questions specific to the school or program you’re applying to, FAFSA contains the same questions for everyone.
- Different methodology: The CSS PROFILE determines your financial need differently than the FAFSA, taking into account such factors as whether your family owns a home. In general, the CSS PROFILE asks for more detailed information than FAFSA.
- Minimum student contribution: The CSS PROFILE requires this, the FAFSA doesn’t.
- Greater reliance on professional judgment: The CSS PROFILE gives financial aid counselors greater freedom to grant aid based on a student’s particular circumstances.
- Cost: There is a cost to filling out the CSS Profile, though some families may qualify for fee waivers; the FAFSA, as the name implies, is free.
How to Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
- The College Scholarship Service PROFILE is completed and submitted online through The College Board website.You can complete the CSS PROFILE online http://profileonline.collegeboard.com/
- When you register for the CSS PROFILE, you will need the PROFILE code of the school or program to which you are applying.Participating Institutions and Programs- https://profileonline.collegeboard.org/prf/PXRemotePartInstitutionServlet/PXRemotePartInstitutionServlet.srv
- Get started: Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: If you’re a student, you might already have an account with College Board, namely if you registered with them for your AP, PSAT/NMSQT or SAT exams. If not, it’s easy for students and/or parents to sign up. The Process by three Easy Steps:
- Create a College Board online account through the link: https://account.collegeboard.org/login/login
- Go to CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and follow the instructionshttp://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile
Complete the application
- Have tax records and financial documents handy.
- Use the pre-application worksheet to save time.
- Enter the required information.
Here’s what you can expect:
- Customized application questions about income, assets, and expenses
- Additional questions required by your colleges or scholarship programs, if applicable
- A Noncustodial PROFILE that must be completed by the parent you spend less time with if you don’t live with both parents for equal amounts of time
- Online help, an extensive FAQ section, and live customer service
- Alerts to missing or incorrect information
- Secure data — your information is encrypted and stored with firewall protection
Submit the application
- Enter your payment information and press Submit.
Each CSS PROFILE costs a fee, varying from year to year.
- For the 2017-2018 scholastic year, the application fee is $25.00 to submit CSS PROFILE to a single college or university and $16.00 per each additional college. Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and most other prestigious schools require the CSS PROFILE. Princeton University is a notable exception because it does not require a CSS PROFILE but instead, has its own free financial aid application form.
Deadline: When to Register and Submit
- You should register at CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE at least two weeks before the earliest college or scholarship priority application date you need to meet.
- The application for the CSS PROFILE is usually available on October 1 in the calendar year preceding the year that a student hopes to receive financial aid.
- Like the FAFSA, you can submit your CSS Profile as early as October 1 of your senior year in high school. College or program due to dates can vary among CSS, so don’t forget to check out specific deadlines before you start the process.
After You Submit
- After you submit your application, print the acknowledgment. This includes the data you entered on your application and your college and scholarship list. You can use the acknowledgment to make changes to your PROFILE. It also provides information about the next steps in the process. Note: At any time, you may add a college or program to your PROFILE application.