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What You Need to Know to File the CSS Profile This Fall

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What You Need to Know to File the CSS Profile This Fall

The fall is a wonderful and busy time of year – especially if you’re a student applying for college. All of a sudden, your calendar is filled with deadlines for school applications and financial aid applications. Almost all families will be completing the FAFSA this winter. Some families may also need to complete the CSS Profile. The schools that you’re applying to will tell you what you need to complete to be eligible for financial aid on their websites. Take time to check their lists carefully (and double check, while you’re at it!). The CSS Profile is similar to the FAFSA but a bit more in depth, so be prepared to show an in-depth picture of your current financial situation. If you need to file the CSS Profile this October,  we’ve got a few tips for you! 

What is the CSS Profile?

The CSS Profile is an online application from The College Board. It helps to determine your eligibility for non federal student financial aid. The CSS Profile is used by nearly 400 colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programs to award more than $9 billion in grants, some of which might not be available through the FAFSA alone. Like the FAFSA, you should complete the CSS Profile as soon as you can. The sooner you submit your application, the better chance you have at some of the funds that may be more limited. 

You do not have to complete the CSS Profile in one sitting, but remember to finish and submit the application in time to meet your schools’ financial aid deadlines. 

What to Know About the CSS Profile: 

User Account

If you have a College Board account, sign in using the same credentials you created for the SAT, AP tests, and other purposes. Using the same account will save you time and help apply any fee waivers received to your CSS Profile application.


You will probably have most of your documents already available if you are also completing the FAFSA this year. The CSS Profile may ask you to provide information about your financial status in 2022 and anticipated income for 2023. This can be crucial if your family has experienced a dramatic change such as divorce, death, job loss, or natural disaster in the last year. 


The CSS Profile uses a dashboard to track progress. The dashboard offers an at-a-glance snapshot of your application status, payment information and important deadlines and messages. It is updated in real time as you progress through the application. The dashboard is also mobile-enabled, and can be viewed on a smart device, such as a smartphone or tablet. You can add a college or program from the dashboard, although a few new questions may be required if the selected school requires additional information.Make it a habit to check your dashboard frequently to look for messages from your colleges, including requests for additional documents. 

Non-Custodial Parents: 

One of the biggest differences from the FAFSA is that the CSS Profile may also require financial information from a non-custodial parent. You will be prompted to share your parent’s email address after you have selected your colleges. If you are not in contact with the non-custodial parent, a CSS Profile Waiver Request is available. This may or may not apply to your family’s situation, but be prepared if it does. 


Prior to submitting your CSS Profile to the schools you have chosen, review your responses. If any section is incomplete, you will be prompted to complete it during this final review process. You must certify that your application is correct by clicking the check box in the application certification. When you’re ready to submit, click the “save and continue” box.


In contrast to the free FAFSA, you may be required to pay a fee for your CSS Profile submission. The fee for the initial application and one college or program report is $25. Additional reports are $16. Fee waivers may be available for low-income families. 

You may still be required to file the FAFSA if you want to participate in the Federal Work-Study Program, hope to qualify for federal student aid, or will need to borrow money through Federal Student Loans. Taking the time to review each college’s website is the best way to ensure that you’ve met all requirements they might have. 

Who We Are

CFAA 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.

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