About 400 post-secondary schools use the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, and application for this goes hand in hand with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA®. While the CSS application is more involved than FAFSA, it’s a resource for funding that’s otherwise not available through a FAFSA application on its own.
What is the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE?
This process accesses non-federal financial aid for post-secondary education. It’s administered by the College Board, the creator and administrator of the SATs. While not every college requires the CSS application, as mentioned, there are about 400 institutions that do. You can check the list of schools here.
There’s a fee to apply to CSS, unlike FAFSA, which is free, but there are also waivers available for students from low income households. The initial application is $25, with $16 for additional school applications. Filing date for CSS is October 1, and since some aid is dispensed based on first-come, first-served, having your application ready to go as soon as possible is an important factor.
Does CSS application replace FAFSA?
No, it doesn’t. It accesses additional resources beyond those that FAFSA represents. Colleges that participate in CSS help students find complete, or close to complete, funding through scholarships, loans and work study programs in addition to financial aid provided by FAFSA. CSS programs generally fund 90 to 100 percent of student needs. Except for the highest need students, CSS packages will always carry a loan portion.
CSS also takes a closer look at family finances than FAFSA. Younger children, medical expenses, and other financial burdens not related to the applying student are considered. And if the student has their eye on a more expensive college or university, CSS may present aid options to improve affordability. While it may seem like just another formality, the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE application is definitely worth the time and cost to procure the lowest post-secondary expenses for your student.