Many high school seniors and their parents are congratulating themselves for being so prompt about completing the early FAFSA to determine their eligibility for financial aid. In most cases, this is enough, but some 400 colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programs utilize the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® in addition to, or sometimes instead of, the FAFSA. Of course, if you do want to receive federal financial aid or federal student loans, you will still have to complete the FAFSA as well, even if it is not technically required by your particular school.
Though quite similar in their purpose of providing information on which to base financial aid decisions, the College Scholarship Service, or CSS/PROFILE goes into somewhat more depth regarding your financial background. Here are some things you need to know regarding this financial aid application:
• Timeframe: The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® for Fall 2017 or Spring 2018 has been available online since October 1, 2016. If you have not yet filled it out and it is required by your college, it is best to supply this information as soon as possible. Allow at least two weeks before each college’s financial aid application deadline, to leave time to rectify any mistakes.
• Tax information: One helpful feature is that the CSS/PROFILE for the 2017-18 application will utilize information from your 2015 federal income tax returns, which should already be completed and filed. You may also be requested to supply some income estimates for 2016 and 2017 to provide a more complete picture of your financial situation.
• Parent information: If your parents are divorced, be prepared to provide financial information from both your custodial and non-custodial parent.
• Changes: If your financial situation has changed dramatically since filing your 2015 tax returns, or is likely to change before the 2017-18 academic year begins, contact the financial aid office at your college and be prepared to provide additional documentation regarding these changes.
• Fees: There is a fee to process the CSS/ PROFILE®. For 2016, the fee for the initial application and one college or program report is $25. Additional reports are $16. You will need a credit or debit card for this purpose. Some fee waivers are available to first year, first-time domestic students from low income backgrounds. Students who qualified for an SAT fee waiver may also qualify for up to eight PROFILE fee waivers.
If you need help completing the PROFILE, contact customer support at 844-202-0524, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, or email email@example.com. For more information on the entire college financial aid process, schedule a free strategy session with College Financial Aid Advisors now!
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