Everything You Need To Know About The CSS Profile Financial Aid Form

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The CSS Profile may seem like a hassle, but it actually saves you from extra paperwork.

The CSS Profile may seem like a hassle, but it actually saves you from extra paperwork.

The College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile is a financial aid application used by some private colleges and universities. It requires more asset information than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—such as what kind of car your parents drive and how much they have saved in their retirement accounts—in order for the school to get a better picture of your financial circumstances.


There are two equations used to determine your financial aid package: Institutional Methodology (the formula your school uses) and Federal Methodology (the equation the government uses). Since each equation requires different information, it only makes sense that each methodology has its own application.

That’s the general gist of the application! However, to help you better understand some of the smaller differences between the CSS Profile and the FAFSA, here are some answers to commonly asked CSS Profile questions:

Who Owns The CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile is owned by the College Board (the same people who administer the SAT and SAT II). They are a large, educational nonprofit organization that has been around for many, many years.

How Much Does The CSS Profile Cost?

The CSS Profile charges $25 to send your application to the first school and $16 for each additional school.

Do I Have To File The CSS Profile Every Year?

It depends on your school’s policy. Some schools only require you to submit the CSS profile once, while others request an updated CSS Profile (known as +IDOC documents) every year.

Does The CSS Profile Have A Deadline?

Yes—your school sets its own deadline for the CSS Profile. Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS Profile is open for applications starting on October 1 (the FAFSA opens on January 1).

One important thing to remember is that there are two parts to the CSS Profile: the application and the IDOC process. The application is simple and can be completed online. However, after finishing this step, you’ll have to submit copies of requirement documents (such as tax returns) via mail to the IDOC processing service. This cycle can take some time, so it’s important that you to complete the CSS Profile and IDOC requirements about two weeks before your school’s financial aid deadline.

What If I Can’t Afford The CSS Profile Fees?

The CSS profile automatically awards fee waivers based on the information you provide in the application. If your details suggest that you’re in need of a fee waiver, then you’ll get to complete the CSS Profile for free.

Have more questions about the CSS Profile? Check out our helpful information video on The CSS Profile Financial Aid Application.

(Photo: https://flic.kr/p/4oWb4H)

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