We understand that another financial aid form is the last thing you want to deal with, especially before completing the FAFSA. The “college-preparation to-do list” seems to never end! However, this form could lessen the financial burden on you or your child’s college education expenses. The College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile) is required by some, but not all schools, so it is important to research if your desired school requires it. So, what is the difference between the CSS Profile and FAFSA? The CSS Profile grants non-federal financial aid, while the FAFSA grants federal financial aid.

The CSS Profile is a privately organized form that may feel a little more invasive than the FAFSA. This is because it wants to see your family’s full financial picture to determine if aid will be granted. It looks at both cash inflow and cash outflow as well as the family’s assets.

To fill out the CSS Profile successfully and efficiently you’ll need to gather some documentation. Here is a list of things you will need (parent and student):

• Most recent tax return (entire return).
• Matching W-2 to go with your tax return.
• Most recent bank and investment account statements.
• Primary residence value and mortgage balance.
• Any rental property, or secondary residence values and mortgage balance.1
• Any special circumstances that affect your family’s finances.2

After all the information is entered, you will select the schools you wish to send the form to Don’t worry if you forget a school, you can always log back in and send the form to additional schools at any time. Along with submitting the CSS Profile you will need to submit your tax return to ensure all values were entered correctly. It is important to note that you will need to resubmit this form year after year, just like the FAFSA to remain eligible for non-federal
financial aid.

Keep in mind that each school has their own formula for determining how much aid will be awarded. Some schools may focus more heavily on income rather than expenses or vice versa. This will result in different aid packages from the different schools.

Don’t miss out on another potential savings opportunity when it comes to funding a college education! Contact PrairieFire today for a FREE “Paying for College Assessment.”

You can fill out the CSS Profile here.

1 Appraisal NOT required for primary residence, secondary residence, or rental properties if stated value is deemed
2 You can note special circumstances (i.e., loss of employment)