The bulk of college financial aid money comes from the federal government; this aid is distributed by colleges using information supplied by families when they complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) available on October 1st. About 400 colleges, universities, and scholarship programs, however, use an additional form, the CSS Profile, to gather more information in order to award their own institutional funds to deserving students. Students applying to college should check to see if this form is required by schools on their list. Some scholarship programs also utilize the CSS Profile. It, too, becomes available on October 1st each year.
The Profile provides a more complete picture of your family’s finances; it also provides a way for you to describe special circumstances right on your application. Begin by logging onto the College Board website.
Use your College Board student account and password to begin the Profile process. Alternatively, parents can create a separate account, since sensitive financial information will be collected. The first step after logging into your account is to register for the correct year (2017-18 for this year’s senior class). Now, complete the registration questions and download and print out the pre-application worksheet and instructions.
Once this is done, you can begin the online application immediately or come back to it at a later time. You will need a number of financial documents, so get these ready before beginning the application. Answer questions carefully; answers are saved as you change screens and you do not need to complete the whole form at one time. Unlike the FAFSA, there is a processing and reporting fee for this application. After an initial $25 registration fee (includes one school report), you will be charged $16 for each additional report required. After submitting, you will receive an acknowledgment and instructions for making any needed revisions.