The CSS Profile is an online financial aid application used by approximately 150 undergraduate colleges to collect information used by the school to award financial aid. Many of the family demographic and financial questions on the CSS Profile are not on the FAFSA.
Q & A
Which colleges require the CSS Profile?
- Each college will outline all financial aid application requirements on their financial aid office web page.
- In general, colleges that award a lot of school-based need-based grant aid require the Profile.
- The College Board provides an updated list of schools that require the CSS Profile Application.
- This list also includes the Profile school codes and non-custodial parent requirements.
Is there a fee for filing the CSS Profile?
- Yes. The fee for the initial application and one college is $25. Each additional college is $16. Payment may be made via credit or debit card.
Are fee waivers available?
- Fee waivers are granted automatically to first-time applicants who are from families with low income and low assets. These waivers are based on the information that you enter on the Profile. Students generally receive PROFILE fee waivers if their parental income is less than $45,000
- or if they received a PSAT, SAT or AP fee waiver AND their parents live in the U.S.
- Students will find out if they are eligible for PROFILE fee waivers when they have completed
the application and reached the payment screen.
- Fee waivers are not available to international students.
- The College Board publishes a comprehensive CSS Profile fee waiver Q & A.
Where do I find the CSS Profile?
- The Profile can only be completed online.
What is the deadline for submitting the CSS Profile?
- It varies from college to college so you must check the financial aid office website for each school to determine the deadline for that particular school.
- You should consider your overall Profile deadline to be the earliest deadline of the all the schools you are applying to.
- For example – if you apply to six schools and five have a Profile deadline of February 15th but the sixth has a deadline of February 1st, you should complete and submit the Profile by February 1st.
- Don’t forget to use the Financial Aid Application Process manager to track all of your deadlines.
Can I add more colleges after I have submitted my original Profile?
- Yes. For example, if you are completing a Profile in November as part of an Early Decision or Early Action process, you do not need to pay for all your regular decision schools at that time. You can add more schools later if necessary.
How long does it typically take to process?
- Once you submit the Profile it usually takes about 5 to 7 business days for each school to receive the record and upload it into their financial aid system.
How will I know that my Profile record has been received by each school?
- It is up to you to check that each college has received and uploaded your Profile record. Many colleges allow you to check online for the status of all required financial aid application materials – including the CSS Profile – but at some schools you will have to call the financial aid office directly.
Your Profile Parents
Do I have to provide parental information on the Profile?
- The rules that apply to parent information on the Profile are the same as they are for the FAFSA.
- Students applying to an undergraduate program who are under the age of 24 will almost always be required to submit parental information. Please refer to the Dependency Status fact sheet for detailed information on this topic.
Which parent do I include if my parents are divorced or separated?
- If your parents are divorced or separated, each parent will complete the separate Profile. Your “custodial parent,” as defined by the parent you lived with the most during the previous 12 months will include you (the student) on the Profile they complete.
What if the parent I lived with most did not claim me as a dependent on their taxes?
- It does not matter which parent claimed you as a dependent on the most recent tax return or who is responsible for paying your college expenses. For financial aid purposes, the custodial is the parent you lived with most during the previous twelve months.
What if I spent the same amount of time with each parent?
- If you did not live with one parent more than the other, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months, or during the most recent year that you actually received any support from either parent.
One of my parents is away from home for work, military service or to attend school. Should that parent be included on the Profile?
- Yes. You must include information about both biological or adoptive parents unless they are divorced or separated.
My parents are divorced and I live with my custodial parent who has remarried. Do I have to include my stepparent’s information?
- Yes. If your custodial parent has remarried, you must include the information for both your parent and stepparent. Likewise, if your non-custodial parent has remarried, they must include the information about the stepparent as well.
What if there is a prenuptial or other agreement that stipulates that my stepparent is not responsible for educational expenses of the stepchildren.
- It doesn’t matter. Stepparent information is always required on the profile when the custodial parent has remarried.
If I live with a grandparent or another family member who supports me financially, do I include their information instead of my parent’s information?
- No. You still report parent information unless you qualify as an independent student. Please refer to the Dependency Status fact sheet for detailed information on this topic.
Do I always have to report my non-custodial parent information?
- Schools that require the Profile almost always require information from both parents. The list of schools that require the Profile includes information about the non-custodial parent requirements.
Your CSS Profile Family
Which family members do I include when completing the Profile?
- Include yourself, your parents, your siblings and others who live with and are supported by your parents now and during the period July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
Who is considered a college student?
- Enter the number of people from the parents’ household who are or will be enrolled in a post-secondary school in 2020–2021. Count yourself as a college student. Include siblings only if they will be attending at least half-time in an approved program during 2020–2021 that leads to a degree or certificate at a post-secondary school eligible to participate in any of the federal student aid programs.
- Do not include your parents. Also, do not include a student at a U.S. military academy because the family is not expected to contribute to that student’s post-secondary educational cost at the academy.
Income & Assets
What income information does the CSS Profile ask for?
As with the FAFSA, the CSS Profile prompts you to report the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) plus various types of Untaxed Income.
You will report the “prior, prior” year income when completing the CSS Profile. So, when completing the 2020-21 Profile, you will report information from your 2018 federal tax return.
The change to “prior, prior” year will allow most families to fill out the CSS Profile using information from their completed federal tax return.
What if we mistakenly provided incorrect information on the Profile?
If you make an error on the profile, you need to provide the correct information to each college financial aid office directly.
What asset information does the Profile ask for?
- Parents and students report the value of their cash, savings, checking, certificates of deposit, investments of any kind, all real estate – including the primary residence – college savings plans, custodial accounts, trusts and the value of your share of a business even if you own less that 50% or have fewer that 100 employees.
- You will also be asked to report the value of all retirement accounts even though this information is not used to compute your financial aid eligibility.
How do we report asset value?
- Unlike with the income questions – which ask you to report your income from a specific tax year – you are required to report the value of each asset as of the day that you complete the Profile.