Know Everything About CSS Profile

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css profile

The CSS Profile is an institutional aid application required by approximately 300 colleges, universities, and scholarship organisations. Completing the CSS Profile, or College Scholarship Service Profile can be time-consuming, according to experts.


“Any kind of form can be difficult for some students to fill out,” says Samantha Veeder, associate dean of college enrollment and director of financial aid at the University of Rochester in New York. “However, it is absolutely necessary for colleges and universities to collect the data they need to award their limited financial aid grants and scholarships in an equitable manner.”

What is CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile, which is administered and maintained by the College Board, the same organisation that creates the SAT, opens the door to nonfederal scholarships and other types of institutional aid that can make a significant difference when it comes to paying for college.

The CSS Profile, which aims to paint a more complete picture of a family’s finances than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, allows families to describe any unique or extenuating circumstances that affect their ability to pay.

“The CSS Profile will be more in-depth,” says Elaine Rubin, director of corporate communications at Edvisors, a higher education resource website. “Unfortunately, it may be a requirement for families who do not want to provide that information, especially if your student or child is attending a school that requires the CSS Profile.”

According to experts, the schools that require the application are mostly private colleges or other institutions with large endowments.

Completing the CSS Profile results in institutional scholarships and a lower net price for some families, which refers to what the student actually pays to attend a particular college. However, for others, submitting the application may have no effect. Experts recommend that families use a net price calculator, which is a tool that takes into account potential financial aid to provide a rough estimate of the total cost of attendance.

CSS Profiles Universities

To be considered for need-based financial aid, only certain colleges and universities require the CSS Profile. Many are private institutions, but some are public. For the 2023-2024 school year, here are a few examples of schools that accept or require the CSS Profile:

Steps to Complete the CSS Profile

Students applying to a college that requires the CSS Profile or families interested in schools that use the form should follow the steps outlined below.

Create an Account with the College Board

Students who have already taken the SAT may have a College Board account that can be used to complete the CSS Profile. On the College Board’s website, sign in or create a profile.

Collect the Required Documentation

Tax documents from the same year as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, are required for students interested in receiving federal financial aid. Students who have already completed the FAFSA can use a lot of the same information for the CSS Profile.

Families will report their income from two years prior to the year a student plans to attend college on both forms. For example, a family completing the form for the 2023-2024 academic year will use the 2021 tax return.

Families should expect to need additional documents because the CSS Profile is a very detailed form. According to the College Board, these will include their W-2 forms and other records of current-year income; records of untaxed income and benefits; assets; and bank statements.

Choose Colleges

Students can choose which colleges will receive their CSS Profile. According to Gail Holt, dean of financial aid at Amherst College in Massachusetts, there is no limit to the number of schools a student can apply to, even if they have a fee waiver.

Fill out the Application

Every year that students want institutional financial aid, they must complete the CSS Profile.

For the 2023-2024 CSS Profile, previously introduced features such as skip logic were updated to remove unnecessary questions for low-income students and their families. Additionally, if provided, a student’s preferred name will be used in questions, introductory text and communications on this year’s form, according to the College Board.

This year, a condensed version of the application is being tested at 20 colleges. According to Sherri Avery, the school’s assistant vice president of student financial services, Brandeis is using the new version only for returning students whose family annual gross income is less than $100,000 (INR 82.82 Lakh).

Families can also provide information about any special circumstances. According to experts, this is a good place to describe anything that is not obvious on their tax forms or in any other questions, such as the costs of caring for a grandparent overseas or other financial hardships.

Submit the Form

Before the CSS Profile is sent to colleges, families must pay a fee or receive a waiver.

Check Back

Following the submission of the CSS Profile, additional instructions may be provided. Students should visit the College Board’s dashboard to view any required action items as well as a payment receipt. Students can still add colleges where they want their profile to be sent after submitting the form, but they will be charged for each additional school.

If a student discovers an error after submitting their work, they can make one-time changes in the “Correct Your CSS Profile” section of their dashboard.

CSS Profile vs FAFSA

The CSS Profile is not the same as the FAFSA, a free form from the U.S. Department of Education that determines a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid. The CSS Profile enables institutions to customise and ask financial questions not included in the FAFSA. It is more detailed, so it may take longer to complete, but it may result in additional financial assistance. Here are the major differences between the CSS Profile and FAFSA:

Cost$25 (INR 2070) for the application and one report to a school. $16 (INR 1325) for each additional report.Free
Type of aidInstitutionalFederal, and sometimes state and institutional
AdministratorCollege BoardDepartment of Education

Cost of CSS Profile

The initial application fee is $25 (INR 2070). Additional reports cost $16 (INR 1325). Credit or debit card payments are accepted. CSS Profile fee waivers are available for first-time domestic college applicants who qualify for an SAT fee waiver, are an orphan, or are under the age of 24 based on parental income and family size. A family of four would be eligible if their income was $45,000 (INR 37.27 Lakh) or less.

Candidates may include a college at any time. Simply sign in to their CSS Profile and click the ‘Add a college or programme’ button on their dashboard. They must pay $16 (INR 1325) for each additional college. Any unused fee waivers will be applied to their charges automatically.

CSS Profile Fee Waiver

Families and noncustodial parents with adjusted gross incomes up to $100,000 (INR 82.82 Lakh), on the other hand, can complete the CSS Profile for free.

“I’ve discovered that middle-income families sometimes struggle more to make college affordable for them based on their situation because they have fewer resources available to them than low-income families,” Veeder says.

Waivers are also available to low-income undergraduates who have previously received an SAT fee waiver, as well as students who are orphans or wards of the court under the age of 24. These requirements are only applicable to domestic undergraduates. According to Holt, international students typically have access to fee payment codes provided by nonprofit organisations as well as many colleges and universities.

When Do You Need to Submit it?

The FAFSA and CSS Profile applications both open on October 1 of the year before you need financial aid. Both applications for the 2023-24 school year will be available on October 1, 2022.

Each school has a different CSS Profile deadline. However, you must submit your application at least two weeks before the earliest deadline. Each year that you intend to receive financial aid, you must complete the FAFSA. If your application is accepted by the school, you must also submit the CSS Profile each year.


Q. What is in a CSS Profile?

Ans. CSS Profile is an online application used by hundreds of colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programmes to award financial aid from sources other than the federal government.

Q. What is CSS Profile for international students?

Ans. The College Board’s CSS Profile, or College Scholarship Service Profile, is an online application that collects information used by nearly 400 colleges and scholarship programmes to award non-federal financial aid.

Q. Do I need a CSS Profile?

Ans. Unlike the FAFSA, not all schools require students seeking financial aid to complete a CSS Profile. Around 250 institutions, including these schools, require the CSS. Even though completing the CSS takes longer than completing the FAFSA, it can provide college funding that would not be available through the FAFSA alone.

This was all about CSS Profile. If you’re planning to study abroad, connect with Leverage Edu experts to help you shortlist colleges, and courses and also with the process afterwards. Connect on 1800 57 2000 and book a 30-min free counselling session.

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