College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile/Financial Aid Profile

"College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile/Financial Aid Profile" submitted by SchoolGrantsfor Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 9th January 2012

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College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile /Financial Aid Profile is the financial aid application administered by the College Board and required by some independent colleges and scholarship organizations to award private aid.

In addition to completing the FAFSA, some colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile form to help them award nonfederal student aid funds. Profile forms are available each November/December at high school Guidance Offices and the Financial Aid Offices of higher education institutions.

The most important weapon in your financial aid arsenal is a properly completed financial aid form, especially if you are applying to any private colleges. Several hundred private colleges and some public colleges also require another form originated by the College Board, the CSS Profile: The College Scholarship Service Profile. Although the forms you'll need to complete and submit will vary by school, the two that are used most often are the FASFA and the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. Although these student financial aid forms are both used to assess need, they are used differently by the schools that require them. Here's what you need to know about each.

College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile/Financial Aid Profile is a supplemental need analysis document used by some colleges and private scholarship programs to award their non-federal aid funds. Early in your senior year, participating colleges may ask you to file a PROFILE so that a predetermination can be made of your financial aid eligibility at that school. The PROFILE does not replace the FAFSA—you must still file a FAFSA in order to be considered for federal student aid. You should file a PROFILE only for those colleges and programs that request it. PROFILE registration forms, which are processed by the College Scholarship Service (CSS), are generally available from high schools or colleges.

Difference between FAFSA and CSS profile/Financial Aid Profile

FAFSA is the application used to apply for federal and state aid. These includes things like the Pell grant and stafford loans. You definitely need to complete the FAFSA no matter what school you're planning on going to. This application looks at your academic need.

CSS profile is a scholarship application run by collegeboard. Some schools use this as their scholarship application but most schools have their own specific application. You only need to fill out the CSS profile if your school participates. Otherwise, just fill out whatever form is required by your school. In either case, you will need to fill out a separate application for scholarships in addition to your FAFSA.

Ask the financial aid office of each college you’re considering what forms are required to apply for financial aid. Also, ask about deadlines and whether a deadline is the postmark (or electronically transmitted) date or the received date. Some state aid programs require their own application forms as well as the FAFSA.

College Board -- a national, not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Many of the member colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on PROFILE to help them award nonfederal student aid funds.

CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® is the financial aid application service of the College Board. More than 600 colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, and scholarship programs use the information collected on the PROFILE to determine eligibility for nonfederal student aid funds. The PROFILE is a fully Web-based application system that provides students a secure and efficient method for reporting their financial data to higher education institutions. College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile /Financial Aid Profile helps students to:

Because the PROFILE application is uniquely customized for each student, applicants save time by only responding to questions pertaining to their situations. The format is streamlined, logical, and easy to use.


The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is only available online. If you are applying for aid for the first time, you must register with the College Board prior to completing the PROFILE online. You should register at least two weeks before the filing deadlines of your participating schools or scholarship programs. You may begin registering with the PROFILE after September 15. You will answer a core of questions and indicate the colleges to which you will apply. There is an additional registration fee and additional costs per college.


To complete the PROFILE, you must pay a $9 nonrefundable registration fee and $16 for each college or scholarship program to which you want information sent. These charges may vary from year to year. You can pay by debit card, credit card, or check. A limited number of fee waivers are granted to first-time applicants based on the financial information provided on the PROFILE.

Completing the PROFILE

After you register online, you can choose to complete the PROFILE application immediately or return to it at a later time. You will have the option to print a pre-application worksheet, which allows you to review the application questions in advance of filling out the online form. Be sure to have tax returns (if available) and financial documents on hand when filling out the application. An advantage to the online process is you can complete the registration and application process at the same time—no waiting. The online application automatically includes all questions required by your designated schools.

Information Collected

Within several weeks you can expect to receive a PROFILE packet containing college-specific forms if required. The PROFILE asks for more detailed information than the FAFSA. Information collected by the PROFILE may include:

As supplements to the FAFSA and PROFILE, some families will be asked to submit the following:

To register electronically, students may go to and click on "profile online," or call 800-778-6888 AFTER completing a worksheet. For Profile Forms on the Web, visit

For Your Information (FYI):
If you’re mailing the FAFSA or any other application form, it’s a good idea to get a Certificate of Mailing from the Post Office ($1.15 in addition to postage) as proof you met the deadline.

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