Divorced or Separated Parents Must File a Non-Custodial CSS Profile for Financial Aid
This fall, if you’re the parent of a rising senior or college age student, you may find yourself filing forms like the FAFSA and completing a CSS Profile. Part of the financial aid process is gathering information about the parent or guardian’s financial situation. If you’re a divorced or separated parent, you might be surprised to find out that the non-custodial parent will also have to complete a CSS Profile as well. The FAFSA does not require this additional paperwork. As we’ve discussed, some colleges require the CSS Profile, so check requirements carefully. In situations where the student’s parents are divorced or separated, many colleges require the regular CSS Profile from both of the student’s biological/adoptive parents, regardless of the current marital status and regardless of the current relationship.
Most commonly, your student will complete the CSS Profile with their custodial parent first. Afterwards, an email is sent to the non-custodial parent directly from their profile dashboard. If you’re a non-custodial parent, here’s what’s required to complete the CSS Profile:
- Start the CSS Profile by navigating to cssprofile.org, select the appropriate application award year, click sign-up, and create an account. The second CSS Profile account for you is created separately using a unique log-in and User ID to ensure confidentiality. Even though it says “Create Your Student Account,” non-custodial parents simply enter their own information, and opt out of receiving notifications.
- Cost for the 2nd CSS Profile is $25, regardless of the number of schools selected. Fee waiver eligibility may be available, based on information provided.
- Supply your student information. Be very careful not to make typos in name, date of birth and SSN, because information provided in this section will be used to match your Profile with that of your student’s. Enter the student’s CBFinAidID, if you have one, from the email you received from the College Board.
- Answer student status questions. These questions only relate to your student’s eligibility for financial aid.
- Report all parental relationships. Report all biological/adoptive parents, even if deceased. Stepparents/partners are reported for each household, including those of your ex.
- Answer parent questions: Check the boxes to denote the parent the student lived with most during the past year, or the parent who provided the most financial support if time was split evenly. This should match the information provided on the first Profile. Select your name under “Parent’s Information Provided” section, and choose your current marital status with date of remarriage, if applicable.
- Providing your income and assets information is similar to that for the custodial household. However, you will not be required to provide information about your student here.
- Complete household information. Provide information for everyone, other than you and your spouse, who lives in your household and receives more than 50% of their support from you. Include children whom you share with the student’s parent who are under age 24, even if they do not live with you.
- Report student resources including amounts you will pay for educational expenses, or have been ordered to pay through a divorce settlement. Add estimated support from other relatives and tuition benefits your employer may provide for your children.
- Review your application thoroughly and correct any errors before submitting it.
- Your dashboard will provide the status of your application and payment.
Occasionally, the non-custodial parent cannot be found, is not involved, or will not participant. In that case, the custodial parent and student should file a CSS Profile Waiver Request for the Noncustodial Parent. Be aware that this submission does not guarantee acceptance for the waiver. Every college will make its own decision about the waiver being accepted.
Financial aid deadlines are rapidly coming to a close, so make sure to sit down and complete your CSS Profile soon, if it’s required for your college picks. Read more tips about completing your profile accurately here!
Want more help with college financial aid?
Jodi helps with the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college.