The bulk of college financial aid money comes from the federal government; this aid is distributed by colleges using information supplied by families when they complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), available on October 1st. About 240 colleges, universities and scholarship programs, however, use an additional form– the CSS Profile– to gather more information in order to award their own institutional funds to deserving students.
Students applying to college should check to see if this form is required by schools on their list. Some scholarship programs also utilize the CSS Profile. It, too, becomes available on October 1st each year.
The CSS Profile provides a more complete picture of your family’s finances and provides a way for you to describe special circumstances right on your application. Begin by logging on to the College Board website at: https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org.
Use your College Board student account and password to begin the CSS Profile process. Alternatively, parents can create a separate account, since sensitive financial information will be collected. The first step after logging in to your account is to register for the correct year (2023-2024 for this year’s senior class). Now, complete the application– as you answer questions, the application will be tailored to your family's financial situation.
The application may be completed in one sitting or you can save information and come back to complete. You will need a number of financial documents, so get these ready before beginning the application. You will find a list of the needed documents once you sign in. Answers are saved as you change screens so be sure to answer all questions carefully.
Unlike the FAFSA, there is a processing and reporting fee for this application. After an initial $25 registration fee (includes one school report), you will be charged $16 for each report required. After submitting, you will receive an acknowledgement and instructions for making any needed revisions or adding additional colleges.
Submit your Profile no later than two weeks before the earliest priority filing date for your college.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by The College Advisor, prepared for our clients and their families.