While the CSS PROFILE® is required for only about 20 percent of private colleges, for students applying to those schools, the application can be overwhelming.
High school guidance counselors may spend most of their time preparing students for submission of the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid (which is required for all schools, both public and private), leaving little time to discuss the CSS PROFILE.
The CSS PROFILE form is used primarily by colleges to determine non-federal financial aid, such as institutional scholarships, grants, and loans. Additionally, the CSS Profile involves a more detailed questionnaire than the FAFSA, focusing on information about the specific programs at schools you to which you will be applying.
Students who apply for early acceptance may need to complete this essential application as early as October 31st of their senior year of high school, depending on each school’s deadlines.
It is imperative to get a prompt start. Rushing to complete the CSS PROFILE at the last minute can lead to costly mistakes that inevitably affect financial aid eligibility.
Start the process as soon as you know where you will be applying for financial aid; at least two weeks prior to the earliest deadline on your list of schools. You’ll need an online College Board Student Account to register on the CSS PROFILE site.
You can print out a customized worksheet to help review the application questions ahead of time.
Be prepared to answer questions about all family income and all assets (including retirement assets, home equity, and small business assets), plus household expenses. Also be aware of additional questions specific to each individual college.
We are happy to help you guide you through the CSS PROFILE and other college planning issues; contact us with your questions.
Westface College Planning helps navigate the financial aid process from start to finish. To learn how we can minimize your cost of college, call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.
Photo Credit: Martijn Van Dalen