Financial aid is monetary assistance that helps students and their families pay for college expenses. It is based on a family’s financial need and is calculated based on the difference between the cost of attendance and what the family is expected to pay. You may already know that if you want to apply for federal and state aid you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. But are you familiar with the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Financial Aid Profile?
Both the FAFSA and Profile can be submitted as early as October 1, but that’s where the similarities end. The FAFSA is for federal student aid, while the Profile is for non-federal aid and is required by a number of private colleges and universities (2018-19 Participating Institutions and Programs). There is also an initial application fee of $25 and $16 for each additional report to submit the Profile, whereas the FAFSA is free. However, *fee waivers may be given to first-time college CSS Profile applicants from low-income families that would cover the application fee and the reporting fees for up to eight colleges.
Compared to completing the FAFSA, filling out the Profile is more complex, takes more time to complete and asks questions that are specific to the college or university. However, according to College Board, the Profile allows institutions to “see a true picture of a family’s financial need” and each year, provides access to grants in excess of $9 billion dollars for thousands of students.
Although it may seem like a daunting task, completing the Profile is worth the time and effort to fill out and it doesn’t have to be completed all at once. You have the option of saving what you’ve done and coming back to finish it at another time.
Regardless of whether you are submitting the FAFSA, CSS Profile or both, you will need to check the deadlines of the institutions you are interested in attending so that you don’t file late. Keep in mind that submitting the application(s) early not only gives you a chance to receive more aid, but also gives you time to correct any filing mistakes that were made.
*CSS Profile fee waivers will be automatically granting to entering undergraduate students who are experiencing hardship due to Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria based on disaster areas designated by FEMA.