The CSS Profile
What is it?
There are ways to earn financial aid outside of completing the FAFSA. Oftentimes, the largest amounts of aid offered to students comes from the colleges or universities to which you’ve been accepted. This is when the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile becomes important. This is an online application (separate from the FAFSA) that many colleges use to figure out how much financial aid they can give to a student who has been accepted to their school and completes the CSS profile.
This application does cost money, but if you are a student who qualifies for the National Free and Reduced Lunch Program, you are eligible to receive a Fee Waiver from the College Board (see your CAP Advisor or counselor to access this waiver). The College Board Fee waiver will allow you, among other things, to complete the CSS profile for free!
Who can complete it?
Although the CSS Profile requires input of similar financial information as the FAFSA, and even asks for more detailed information, the application does not require a social security number to be completed by students or parents reporting information on the form. Completing the CSS profile is a lengthy process and requires several documents and a lot of financial information. You can get ahead of the game by starting to collect the necessary documents before the application opens on October 1st of your senior year.
When can I fill it out and how do I fill it out?
It requires more detailed information about family income, but does not require a social security number to complete. Some of the documents you may need include:
Your guardian's most recently completed tax returns if you have them
W-2 forms if you have them
Other records of current year income, record of untaxed income and benefits, assets and bank statements
It is always a good idea to get financial aid forms done early. The CSS profile opens on October 1st of your senior year.