So yesterday we talked about the FAFSA, the main Federal financial aid application that you need to compete annually, once for each student planning on applying for financial aid.
Today we are going to take a quick look at the second financial aid form many of you may need to complete, the CSS Financial Aid Profile.
The CSS Financial Aid Profile is an application form used by a number of private not-for-profit colleges as a supplement to the FAFSA. The information on the Profile (which is what I will call it for the rest of this post) is used to determine how much institutional financial aid (translation: grant or scholarship) will be awarded by the college that uses it to the student applying. That means that if your college wants you to complete the Profile, you should complete the Profile!
Unlike the FAFSA, there is a (small) cost to you to use the Profile. As of right now, the cost is $25 for the first college and $16 for each additional college you list. For first-time college applicants who come from families with lower-incomes, the College Board does offer fee waivers; simply fill out the CSS Profile online and you will be told if you qualify for a fee waiver.
Like the FAFSA, the Profile goes live October 1 for the following school year (so October 1, 2018 for the 2019-2020 year). Also like the FAFSA, you can list multiple colleges on your initial application (and that is recommended). Since there is a cost per college, though, you do want to make sure your college really wants the Profile. To confirm this, you should either visit your college’s financial aid web page or take a look at the list of participating colleges on the CSS Profile web page. Like the FAFSA as well, the Profile is entirely online so be prepared to answer questions using your web browser. As of now there is no mobile app for it.
In future posts we’ll talk more about why it is important to apply for financial aid from your college directly, but for now you should know that colleges and universities provide more money every year in grant and scholarship funds to students than the Federal government does, so completing the Profile is a “must do” if you plan on asking for every kind of financial aid for which you might qualify. Keep in mind that most public schools (both universities and community colleges) generally don’t use the Profile. We’ll talk more about what forms they use in our next post!