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What is the difference between the FAFSA and the CSS Profile?

Hey collegevine! I'm a junior, and I've been hearing about the FAFSA and CSS Profile for financial aid. What is the difference between these two forms, and do I need to complete both? When should I start working on them? Thanks for your help!

11 months ago

Hello! It's great to see you're taking the initiative to learn about financial aid options for college. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile) are indeed two different forms used to apply for financial aid. Let me explain the differences between them and the timelines for completing them.

First, the FAFSA is a government form that determines your eligibility for federal financial aid, including grants, loans, and work-study programs. It's essential to complete the FAFSA, as it's required by almost all colleges and universities in the United States to access federal aid. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1st each year and has a deadline of June 30th of the following year, but it's best to submit it as early as possible, as some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

On the other hand, the CSS Profile is a form administered by the College Board and is used by some colleges and universities (mostly private) to determine eligibility for their own institutional aid. Not all schools require the CSS Profile, so you'll need to check the requirements for each college you are applying to. The CSS Profile is typically available on October 1st, with varying deadlines depending on the schools you're applying to. It's always a good idea to submit it as early as possible, too.

In summary, the FAFSA is required for federal aid, whereas the CSS Profile is used by some schools for their own institutional aid. It's possible that you may need to complete both, depending on the colleges you're applying to. Start working on them in the fall of your senior year and submit them as early as you can for the best chance at receiving aid. Good luck!

11 months ago

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