Nearly 250 institutions including many private colleges, a few public universities and some scholarship entities need students and parents to file the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA for determination of student financial aid. Just like the FAFSA 2022-23, the CSS Profile 2022-23 opened for filing from October 1, 2021.
Perhaps you may be wondering why would you need to file a second financial aid form beyond the FAFSA? The reason is because these 250 colleges use the CSS Profile to determine your eligibility for institutional aid, which is financial aid offered by the college. Read more about filing the FAFSA in our companion blog article.
Will you need to file both the CSS Profile and FAFSA forms to get financial aid?
The short answer is that for these 250 colleges, you will file both the CSS Profile and the FAFSA. To get any institutional aid, you will need to file the CSS Profile. These colleges will use the FAFSA to determine if you are eligible for Federal and State Aid. You cannot receive any federal and state aid if you do not file the FAFSA but only file the CSS Profile.
Is filing the CSS Profile free like the FAFSA?
It is going to cost you $25 to the file the CSS Profile . Only the first college is included in the $25 fee. Every subsequent college that you add is going to cost you $16. So be ready with your credit card. They also allow fee waivers if eligible. FAFSA filing is always free for any number of colleges.
Is the financial information reported on CSS Profile similar to the FAFSA?
While filing the CSS Profile you will be reporting 2020 income and current assets and cash. You will also report 2021 and estimated 2022 incomes. Note that you will be reporting 2020 income for 2022-23 FAFSA and current assets and cash at the time of filing of FAFSA.
The definitions of what constitutes an asset are different for the CSS Profile and the FAFSA. We have compiled a handy list of income and assets
that you will need to report on the FAFSA and CSS forms. The CSS Profile will also ask you information about your expenses, medical expenses, debt, home equity, any 529 plans for the student and siblings and other detailed financial information that is not asked on the FAFSA.
The CSS Profile will also ask you information about your expenses, medical expenses, debt, home equity, any 529 plans for the student and siblings and other detailed financial information that is not asked on the FAFSA.
- Before you file the CSS Profile online, check this tutorial from College Board.
- . College Board has a getting started resource that is helpful before you begin filing the CSS Profile.
Important Notes about the CSS Profile
- The filing is done by the student through the student College Board account.
- If the student has filed tax information, has separate bank/brokerage accounts, W-2, have those available along with the parent's information.
- Parents: Have your 1040 (Schedule 1,2,3) with you while filing the CSS Profile. As well as your W2, bank/brokerage statements, FSA/HSA statements, mortgage information.
- CSS Profile will ask for parent and student expenses. So have a list of those ready. It's fairly comprehensive.
- CSS Profile will also ask about your primary residence and its home equity. You can check Zillow to get an estimate of the home equity. Each colleges uses this information differently based on their policy about primary home equity.
- File CSS Profile 2 weeks before the financial deadline of the college or priority filing date of the college. Usually, the financial aid deadlines are after the application deadlines...just in case you were wondering. But you have to get the applications in before the deadline or you will not be eligible for institutional aid at these 250 institutions. The financial aid deadlines may be different for early decision/action as compared to the regular decision. Please check them out.
- CSS Profile requires you to send in writing any changes or errors to each college where you have sent the CSS Profile. This is different from the FAFSA where you can change and review on the FAFSA platform itself.
- Each college uses the CSS Profile information differently and this may mean different amounts of institutional financial aid. There is no universal formula like the EFC (estimated family contribution) that is calculated based on the information provided by the FAFSA.