CollegeBoard CSS Profile

The College Board College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE is an online application provided by The College Board and used by those wishing to apply for financial aid at over 350 private colleges and universities in the United States. The application helps college applicants save time in their financial aid search by collecting information on scholarships and other financial aid programs from nearly 400 institutions of higher learning and giving the student one form which can be submitted to many schools. Unlike the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the College Board CSS PROFILE is not used to apply for aid programs funded by the federal government, but those offered directly by the colleges and universities themselves.

Some colleges require the PROFILE form as their application for school-specific financial aid, and when preparing to file, it is important to keep the pertinent deadlines in mind. The online CSS PROFILE form must be submitted two weeks before a school’s priority filing date. This means that, if the form is being used to apply to more than one college, it needs to be completed two weeks before the date of the earliest applicable deadline. It is also important to remember that since the CSS PROFILE requires so much information, it is essential that applicants allow themselves enough time to fill out the entire form before the earliest deadline approaches.

The College Board CSS PROFILE is not a free application, and includes both an initial fee, which covers submission to one school or scholarship program, along with a further fee for each additional recipient. These fees can be paid in many ways — by online check, credit or debit card. Using application provided during the filling out of the form, fee waivers (good for the application fee and reporting fees for up to six programs) will be granted to those whose family incomes demonstrate need.

While the CSS PROFILE is available for use by those living outside of the United States, there is no program of fee waivers available to international students. In order to take advantage of the CSS PROFILE program, a student must register and create a user profile at the College Board website (http://www.collegeboard.org). Once this has been done, they can follow the “Pay for College” links which lead to the PROFILE site. For those who want more information before filling out the PROFILE, they can download a printable copy of the instructions as well as a helpful Pre-Application worksheet. The Student Guide, also available for download at the College Board website, also includes a list of colleges that require the PROFILE as a part of their financial aid application process. All of these documents will help the applicant to get more comfortable with the PROFILE process and to find out if it is required by any of the schools they are planning on applying to. As with any other financial aid application, when sitting down to fill out the CSS PROFILE there are a few important documents that one should have on hand to help the process go as smoothly as possible.

These include any pertinent financial documents, including tax forms filed by the student or their parents for the current tax year. Documents and information that the form will require includes, but is not limited to, the student’s personal information, including full name, address, date of birth and Social Security number; the student’s parents’ employment and housing status; the type of tax form that will be filled out by the student and/or parent’s for the current tax year and whether or not the student or their parents are recipients of certain types of federal assistance, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There may also be school-specific supplemental forms that are also required to be filled out as a part of the application process.

Filling out the College Board CSS PROFILE is a quick and way for those seeking money to help pay for college to have their information provided to a large number of colleges and universities, without having to fill out a multitude of different time-consuming forms. And while the CSS PROFILE is much more invasive than the FASFA, it can also lead to much greater financial aid packages. The FAFSA only applies to federal student aid, which is capped at a certain amount every year, while the money that can be received as a result of the information contained in a student’s CSS PROFILE can be enormous, depending on many factors, many of which the federal form does not even take into consideration.