The CSS Profile--perhaps an even bigger mystery than the FAFSA. While all schools require a completed FAFSA, the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile is used mostly by private colleges as a financial aid supplement. Its purpose is to determine each individual's Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS Profile looks for other types of college money, and asks about sources such as home equity. Students submitting the form are charged $9 for the application AND $16 for each copy sent.You might be thinking, "GREAT. Now I have more applications to figure out!" Don't sweat it. Just like the FAFSA, students can practice filling out the CSS Profile. Don't sit on this for too long, though, as it's best to submit the Profile in October of senior year. But let's get on to the practice.
Before you do anything, make sure the following information is available:
- W-2 Forms for the last year
- Tax Returns from the last year
- Records of investments
- Recent bank statements
The CSS Profile and CSS Profile Worksheet are lengthy documents, so it's best to have the answers in front of you. The CSS Profile itself becomes customized depending on your situation and answers to specific questions, but most of the CSS Profile Worksheet questions will follow the same pattern. Let's consider some categories of questions, along with examples.
- Date of Birth
- Social Security number
Application Data--often separated into two questions, one for the student and another for the parents.
- Marital Status
- Citizenship Status
- Has and income tax return been completed?
- Does the family receive financial assistance?
Let us also consider some Parent Data, which is very specific. Only a few categories will be examined.
Parents' Data--completed for each parent.
- Date of Birth
- If this parent is unemployed, indicate start of unemployment
- Indicate specific plans for the parent's retirement (several questions)
Parents' Income and Benefits--indicate previous two years' information as well as expected future information.
- Total number of exemptions for the year (2009, 2010, and 2011)
- Total work-related earnings
- Other taxable income (i.e. alimony, annuities, etc)
- How much child support was paid the previous year (if applicable)?
- How much does each parent expect to pay on their own student loans in the coming year?
- What is the monthly mortgage payment or rental fee?
If you are the student reading this, remember that these questions are on the application for you to answer too, if applicable. If your situation is unique, don't worry about it. There is a space at the end of the CSS Profile Worksheet to elaborate on individual circumstances.This was a pretty quick walk through of The CSS Profile Worksheet, and feel free to use it as practice too. For more detailed practice, search for worksheets online, and consider financial aid consulting! Go Financial Aid is always here to help you navigate the financial aid process!