What is the CSS Financial Aid Profile?

There’s actually a SECOND form of financial aid you might be eligible for, which can be responsible for handing you a great education at an even cheaper cost.

For most families, filling out the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the necessary pains of applying for college.

After all, if you want a penny of the government’s money in helping you pay your student’s tuition, the FAFSA form is required work.  But believe it or not, once you submit it, you may only be half the way towards getting all the financial aid you can.

That’s because there’s a SECOND form you can complete in order to qualify for non-Federal financial aid at over 600 universities nationwide.

This is money doled out by the colleges themselves– not government funds.  And in order to receive any of it, you’ll have to get your hands on the College Scholarship Service Profile.

The CSS Financial Aid Profile is an application distributed by the College Board for scholarships and programs offered by individual schools.  And depending on whether or not the school you’re applying to is able to award these types of grants, the CSS Profile is definitely worth your time to fill out, despite a couple of things:

  • While the FAFSA form is free to submit, there is a fee to submit the CSS Financial Aid Profile.  There is a $9 registration fee, and it will cost $16 per school to where you will be submitting the CSS Financial Aid Profile.  If you’re eligible, however, you can request a limited number of fee waivers from your high school’s guidance office.
  • Since the CSS Financial Aid Profile is used to hand out private scholarships, the schools offering them are allowed to consider other factors that the FAFSA form can’t under federal law.  That means when determining your expected family contribution the school will be using what we call “institutional methodology.”

That institutional methodology includes things like your home equity. FAFSA does not factor your home equity into your assets, which brings your EFC down, but the CSS Profile, on the other hand, may.

Other financial information the CSS Profile can investigate include insurance contract values and retirement values.  As you can probably tell, applying for these scholarships can leave your assets much more exposed than when dealing with the government.

If you’re applying to a school that offers these types of private aid and you feel you stand a good chance at qualifying for it, it’s worthwhile to apply.  But I  highly recommend that you speak to a qualified college planning consultant – like the College Planning Network – to learn about all the ways you can avoid the pitfalls of the CSS Profile.

CollegeMadeSimple.com can help you with this.  Check out our upcoming Online Video Workshop, which explains ways to make college affordable, including how to bring down your Expected Family Contribution when applying for financial aid.

It’s FREE to register, but space is limited, so don’t wait long to add your name to the list.

Every little bit of financial aid helps, no doubt.  Just ensure you’re applying for it in the best way possible.

To Your Successful College Search,

Scott Weingold
Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com


Related Articles:

How to Reduce Your Expected Family Contribution

How Does FAFSA Determine Eligibility?

How is Financial Aid Calculated?


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Deborrah LinMarch 5th, 2011 at 10:37 am

Thanks for the information. It looks like one needs to have superb grades and GPA in which to qualify. Therefore, I probably will not submit the form. I am not within the 4.0 GPA category.

Alicia RichardsonMarch 7th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Hi Deborrah,

The CSS Profile does not take grades or test scores into consideration. It only looks at your financial situation to award “need based” financial aid. Most scholarships based on GPA and test scores are referred to as “merit based” financial aid and the qualifications for these will come from your admission application or other scholarship application forms.

It is a good idea to complete the CSS Profile for all the colleges where your student will or has applied. That way you will be considered for all possible need based financial aid.

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.