Introduction to the CSS/PROFILE

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The CSS/PROFILE is a standard form, similar to the FAFSA. However, it is not tied to federal aid and schools can supplement the form with hundreds of their own questions, often going more in-depth than the FAFSA.

In general, students looking at lower-priced colleges (for example, in-state public schools) must complete only the FAFSA, while students looking at higher priced schools (private schools and out-of-state public schools) must complete both the FAFSA and the College Board’s CSS/PROFILE (or a college’s own supplemental aid application). You might also need to file the CSS/PROFILE to apply for some scholarships or grants.

The CSS/PROFILE is a standard form, similar to the FAFSA. However, schools can supplement the form with hundreds of their own questions. The PROFILE may ask about the value of primary and secondary vehicles, life insurance annuities, tax-deferred pension plans, itemized deductions, child care expenses, and consumer debt.

If you’re applying to one of the nearly 300 CSS/PROFILE schools, register via the College Board Online, collegeboard.com. You’ll then complete an online form customized with each of your school’s financial aid questions. Also unlike the FAFSA, the CSS/PROFILE is not free; it costs $25 to register, then $16 for each school that is to receive your information. So you should not file the PROFILE unless it is expressly required by your college(s).

You can learn more about the CSS/PROFILE at the College Board website.

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