Parents Guide to CSS Profile
The CSS Profile is an online application that students submit to apply for financial aid from colleges and scholarship programs. It’s different from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®) that students use to apply for financial aid from the federal government.
Your child should submit both the CSS Profile and FAFSA to maximize the amount of financial aid they could get.
- Hundreds of colleges and scholarship organizations use CSS Profile to help them award aid. See who uses CSS Profile.
- October 1 is the first day students can submit the CSS Profile for the following school year. These tips and resources make it easier for your child to complete the application.
- There’s a fee for submitting the CSS Profile to colleges, but many students are eligible for fee waivers to cover the costs. See if your child’s eligible for a fee waiver.
Why Submit the CSS Profile?
Each year, CSS Profile connects thousands of students to more than $9 billion of financial aid. If your child wants an opportunity to get some of that money to help pay for college, they’ll need to submit the CSS Profile.
- Some colleges require students to use the CSS Profile to apply for nonfederal aid.
- The CSS Profile application asks for details about your financial situation that may increase the aid your child gets.
- If your child doesn’t submit the CSS Profile, they’re forfeiting access to billions of dollars in aid.
How to Fill Out the CSS Profile
The entire CSS Profile application process happens online. Your child will need a free College Board account to access the application; if they already have an account, they don’t need to create a new one. You can also create a student account under your own name if you’re going to fill out the application without your child.
Your child will need to provide information about your employment, family income, and other details about your family’s financial situation. You may want to sit with your child as they fill out the application because they may need your help answering the questions.
You’ll need your tax return from the past two years, bank statements, W-2 forms, and other financial documents on hand before you start the application.
The process for creating a CSS Profile is different for parents who are divorced, seperate or noncustodial. To learn more, visit our tutorial for noncustodial parents.
When to Submit the CSS Profile
Each college sets its own CSS Profile submission deadlines. Sometimes they have more than one deadline. It’s a good idea to submit the application as early as possible, beginning October 1, to give your child the best chance at getting the most financial aid.
The FAFSA application for federal student aid is also available. It is being simplified, so it won’t be open until December of 2023 rather than October. The CSS Profile asks for more information about your financial situation than the FAFSA does, but some of the questions are the same. To make sure your answers are consistent across both applications, you may want to fill them out at the same time.