CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
Applying for financial aid at private or independent colleges often
requires that you follow a supplemental route
(apart from the FAFSA route
-see the Financial Aid Road Map). Some colleges
will require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE be completed if you
are to qualify for financial aid from their own funds.
Remember, the FAFSA forms are the primary way
you will qualify for many kinds of aid. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE forms are required by some schools
in addition to the FAFSA. Be prepared to fill out both sets of
forms for those schools that require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
Questions to consider:
How do I know whether to fill out the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE?
What kind of colleges generally require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE?
Who provides and processes the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE?
Does the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE cost anything to use?
Is there a difference between the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and the FAFSA?
What steps do I need to follow to start on the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE path to getting institutional aid?
You should pick up a copy of the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE registration
packet available in your counseling or career center in early
September of your senior year. Review the instructions contained
in the packet and in particular, look for the section that lists
the colleges and scholarship programs which require or
accept the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
Typically, private colleges which have a substantial
amount of their own financial aid money (or institutional funds),
will require the use of the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. Public colleges, like state universities,
receive most of their financial aid money from government
programs. At times, you may find that a college may want both
the FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE forms and, in addition, may require their own
supplementary institutional forms.
It is your responsibility to determine which schools require which forms.
may not be completely updated with the most current information
about the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE system. Remember, if you have
any doubts, simply call the financial aid office of any schools
at which you plan to apply and ask for specific information about
whether they require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE and/or institutional applications
in addition to the FAFSA.
The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application was developed by the College
Scholarship Service (CSS). Colleges can use this application to
decide on how to award institutional funds to qualified students.
The CSS is a branch of the College Board which is a non-profit membership
organization consisting of approximately 3,000 colleges. It is
the organization which sponsors the SAT programs, the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, and
YES! As of this writing, the College Scholarship Service, which
supervises this process will be charging the following fees.
There are some fundamental differences between the PROFILE and
The FAFSA indicates eligibility for federal, state and institutional financial
aid by determining your Expected Family Contribution using a set
of calculations called the Federal Methodology. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE indicates
your eligibility for INSTITUTIONAL financial aid by determining
your Expected Family Contribution using a different set of calculations
called the Institutional Methodology. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE requires information
about home equity and other financial factors which the FAFSA
does not require.
The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is designed to start the financial aid process a little
earlier than FAFSA. Determine the financial aid deadlines of the
colleges which require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. Submit the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE registration, including
the fees, about 6 weeks before the college deadlines for financial
Step 2--Fill out the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE Registration Form to start the process in motion.
This registration form should be available at your high school
counseling of career center. (If not, call the CSS branch of the
College Board to request one). The registration form asks you
some basic questions that allows the CSS to develop a customized
financial aid application for you based on the colleges you select.
The primary purpose of the registration form is to collect background
information about you and to have you list the colleges that you
want to receive the PROFILE information. This form also notifies
you to pay the fees required to provide
your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE information to your designated schools.
Step 4--Complete your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
Probably the easiest way to register for the PROFILE is to simply call the toll free PROFILE
registration service at 1-800-778-6888 from 8 a.m. to midnight, eastern time, seven days a week.
A few weeks after registering
you should receive your customized PROFILE forms in the mail. With
this form you will be able to apply for aid at the colleges you
designated. Those colleges will get your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE information
and use it to calculate your eligibility for their institutional funds. The form
includes both generic questions to which all PROFILE applicants must respond and
questions that pertain to only the schools you applied to. A Cover Letter will
tell you what you need to do and inform you about all financial aid deadlines
and requirements for the colleges you designated on your registration form. Read
the instructions provided in this letter carefully.