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What Is The CSS Profile & How Do I Complete It?

Last updated January 31, 2024

The College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile) is an online application for non-federal student financial aid, such as institutional (and in some cases, state) scholarships and grants. Around 240 colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programs in the U.S. use the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA. While completing the FAFSA sets you up to receive all the federal aid you’re eligible for, the CSS Profile will help you receive any and all institutional aid you may be eligible for. Here's what you need to know about completing the CSS Profile!

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Who needs to complete the CSS Profile?

If you’re applying to one of the ~240 colleges that use the CSS Profile, you will likely need to complete it in addition to the FAFSA. Some of these colleges require CSS profile completion, while others just recommend it. If you're applying to a college that uses it (even if it's not required), we recommend filling it out anyways in order to receive all the institutional financial aid you’re eligible for.

Where do I start the CSS Profile? What information will I need?

You can start the CSS Profile here. You and your parents/guardians (if you’re a dependent student) will need the following documents and information to complete it:

  • Federal tax returns
  • W-2 forms and other records of current year income
  • Records of untaxed income and benefits for the current and previous tax years
  • Current bank statements
  • Records of investments if applicable (savings, stocks, bonds, trusts, etc.)

When is the CSS Profile due?

The CSS Profile opens every year on October 1. Deadlines are typically specific to the college you’re applying to, but the majority tend to fall between January 1 and March 1, annually. Also, like the FAFSA, you’ll need to renew your CSS Profile every year you attend college.

A man and a woman sit at a green table outdoors and type on their computers and tablets - What Is The CSS Profile & How Do I Complete It?

How much does the CSS Profile cost?

The CSS Profile costs $25 to complete. The first report you send is included in this initial fee, but each additional report you request will cost $16. However, fee waivers are available to students whose adjusted gross family income is less than $100,000, annually.

How will the CSS Financial Aid Profile help me get money for college?

Once your CSS Profile is complete, you are able to send it to as many schools and scholarship programs as you want for a fee. Each report you receive will highlight the amount of private aid you qualify for at each institution you request. The CSS Profile asks additional questions about your family finances to really help you get the maximum amount of aid possible. If a school you are applying to requires a CSS Profile, you can expect there to be additional funding options available to you.

Have any questions about financial aid for college? Text #FAFSA to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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