2 years ago
Admissions Advice

What is CSS Profile?

I feel like it's the same thing as FAFSA but answers on google were not really clear.


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

The CSS profile is used by colleges to determine financial aid. It is not used by all colleges. You can google it to find out which ones use it. You will find it is the schools that offer the most financial aid that use it because it is very in-depth about both your and your parent's financial information. You even have to submit a form for a parent if you haven't had contact with them in years. I am considered an independent student per FAFSA however CSS does not care about that. They want my legal guardian's information even though she never adopted me and I will be over 18 by the time I apply for college. (They still want my parents information even though one is deceased and the other's rights were terminated 5 years ago). The CSS Profile can be a very good thing if you are trying to get additional financial aid from a college but understand it is not like FAFSA and it can be more difficult to fill out.

2 years ago

FAFSA is a form that determined if an applicant is qualified to receive Federal Aid for college. If you are a non-citizen International applicants or non-Eligible applicant ( "Refugee" , "Asylum Granted" , "Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending)","Conditional Entrant" (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980) ,Victims of human trafficking, T-visa (T-2, T-3, or T-4, etc.) holder , "Parolee" (You must be paroled into the United States for at least one year and you must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that you are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose and that you intend to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.) , you cannot apply for FAFSA. The Maximum amount of the Federal Grant varies from year to year but currently $6495 for the current year. This is not a significant amount if your total annual college costs are $85,000.

CSS PROFILE is a financial aid form used by exactly 242 colleges out of more than 4300 that offer 4 year degrees and graduate Medical and Law Degrees. All the Ivys, Elites, and Top Liberal Arts Colleges use the CSS profile. For Americans applying to these schools, you must fill out both the FAFSA and CSS Profile to get aid.


For Non Citizens and Non-Eligible applicants, you just have to fill out the CSS Profile if you want to attend these 242 schools.

If the college you are applying to has something called the NON-CUSTODIAL Waiver form, you are allowed to fill that out and submit that to the college and they will weigh in on whether you will be allowed an exemption from the non-custodial parent's information to be calculated for the financial aid package. I did that because I stopped living with my biological mother at age 14 and moved in full time with my father and that my mom has not contributed to my day to day living costs all through high school. My colleges I applied to that had such a form granted me such a waiver so I didn't not have to have her submit her tax records and other financial documents in order to receive a financial aid package from the school.

In terms of complexity, the CSS profile requires full disclosure of the parents records including all tax records, schedules, and any other legal documents that involve trusts and real estate holdings or farm property, stock and investments, its very comprehensive.

On top of this the individual college may have their own supplemental financial aid forms where they ask how many cars, boats or planes your family owns by cost, make and model and other things like Art work or jewelry. So if you apply to a Ivy League school, they will have a very detailed picture of your families net worth including all holdings, assets, liquid and ill-liquid.

Just like the Common App, the CSS Profile has a dashboard that keep track of all the documents each college on your list is requesting. So if you apply to 15 schools there might be 10 things each college requires. Each of these documents has to be manually uploaded through the IDOC system. Once you successfully upload a document, it takes between 1 business day and 1 week for the document to track into the system. You will get notified if something is still missing or wasn't upload correctly. You can also see on the portal, whether both parents completed their tasks of if your Step-mom is dragging her feet or if your non-custodial parent is non-compliant.

Its a bit stressful, if one parent is not cooperating. Let me be clear, it is entirely possible that your financial aid package will not be what you expected based on your early calculations on the NPC net price calculator because all the financial records were not taken into account or one parent mucked it up for you. So you need to keep on top of the process and push it along even though its your parents responsibility.

Good Luck.

2 years ago

CSS is basically the same as the FASFA but you need it along with the FASFA for lots of private schools for financial aid. It is a bit more detailed though and accounts for you and your family's assets (cars, bonds, etc.) and and sometimes requires tax documents to be uploaded to send to schools. It is basically just a more detailed FASFA. If you want financial aid from schools that require both a CSS and FASFA you need to fill them both out even though it doesn't make much sense and can be time consuming.

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