Are You Prepared for the CSS Profile?
The CSS Profile application is used primarily by participating colleges for non-government financial aid, such as institutional scholarships, grants and loans. The CSS Profile involves a more detailed questionnaire than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), focusing on the student’s detailed financial and household information, so it’s important to understand as much as possible before completing an application.
For high school seniors putting their college plans into action, the CSS Profile and the FAFSA can be the most powerful financial aid tools. Although a CSS Profile application is required for only about 20 percent of private colleges, for students applying to those schools, the process can be overwhelming. Further, many high school guidance counselors put so much focus on preparing students to submit the FAFSA, a requirement for all public and private schools, they are not aware of or run out of time to discuss the CSS Profile.
Students who apply for early acceptance may need to complete this essential application as early as October 15 of their senior year of high school. Participating schools’ deadlines may vary, so it is crucial 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 before the earliest deadline on your list of schools). First, you’ll need a College Board Student Account to register on the CSS Profile site.
Then, you’ll want to download and print a CSS Profile Student Guide to help prepare for the application process. Be prepared to answer questions about all family income and assets, including retirement assets, home equity and small business assets, in addition to household expenses. You should also plan to answer any additional questions your specific schools may ask.
If you’d like to know more about the differences between CSS Profile and the FAFSA, detailed articles like this one from nerdwallet may be helpful. For help understanding the FAFSA, please see this article on our website.
At Westface College Planning, our services include coaching you through the CSS Profile and FAFSA and filing them on your behalf. If you are overwhelmed by all the required steps in the financial aid application process, we are happy to help. Contact us for a complimentary college funding consultation.
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.
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