If your teenager needs financial aid to attend college in the fall of 2020, you might be proud of yourself for filing the FAFSA, and even completing a CSS Profile. If you are a parent who is divorced or separated, however, you might be surprised to learn that the non-custodial parent may also have to complete a CSS Profile. The FAFSA does not require this additional step, but specific colleges on the CSS Profile list require this additional information.
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. The student usually completes the CSS Profile with their custodial parent first, and then sends an email to the non-custodial parent directly from their Profile dashboard. The steps the non-custodial parent takes to complete the CSS Profile include:
• The first CSS Profile is completed by the custodial household and includes the parent and student’s financial information.
• The second CSS Profile is completed by the non-custodial household and includes only the parent’s financial information.
• 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 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.
• You may receive a message saying that your student has not yet selected colleges or that no college on your student’s list requires your Profile. Check with your student to make sure you used the same demographic information and that your student did apply to a college that requires your information.
• Providing your income and assets information is similar to that for the custodial household, but you will not be requested to provide the student’s information.
• 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.
• Tell the story if your circumstances have changed. This is your opportunity to further explain any changes in employment, eldercare expenses, or specific situations which impact your ability to provide complete financial support.
• Review your application thoroughly and correct any errors before submitting it.
• Your dashboard will provide the status of your application and payment.
If the non-custodial parent cannot be found or will not participate, complete a CSS Profile Waiver Request for the Noncustodial Parent, but be aware that submission does not guarantee a waiver will be approved. Each college makes it own decision.