What do You Need to Know About FAFSA Vs CSS Profile?

FAFSA vs CSS profile
FAFSA vs CSS profile

Candidates seeking financial aid for studies must know about these two questionnaires, FAFSA Vs CSS Profile. CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile) and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) are online forms that help the state and institutions to determine a candidate’s financial eligibility for monetary aid packages. However, both CSS Profile and FAFSA slightly differ from each other. Let’s walk you through each step by step. 


Understanding FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an opportunity to enroll in an application form by the federal government. A FAFSA registration form is online and facilitates students to avail of financial aid like grants, loans, and scholarships. These grants are offered by the US Department of Education through institutions and are for those who cannot obtain them directly from the government.  

The federal financial aid is distributed yearly and is a total sum of about $150 billion. Students qualified for the aid may renew their FAFSA every year.  Firstly, a keen student applying for the FAFSA needs to know the following:  

  • One must be a US citizen or an eligible non-citizen 
  • Candidate must possess a social security number/alien registration number 
  • Must have a high school diploma/GED/equivalent 
  • To strive for a degree/certificate program at a listed institution.  

Besides the federal financial aid, many universities and institutions also use FAFSA to grant their scholarships. Therefore, if you are eligible, the best is not to bypass this online application for a better future.  


What is the CSS Profile?

Unlike the FAFSA, the College Scholarship Service (CSS) is a private and independent form by the College Board. The College Board is trusted to create other standardized tests including the SATs.  

The CSS takes a closer look at the financial assets of a candidate quite differently than the FAFSA. Approximately 300-400 private schools or institutions require the CSS profile before finalizing students who deserve financial aid. 

However, the FAFSA is a compulsory form to fill out before applying to the CSS profile. The institutions using the CSS profile can also add questions they find useful to make their final evaluation for the worthy students and also the amount they would like to allocate to each student. Like FASFA, the candidates must also renew their CSS profile every year. 


Similarities: FAFSA And CSS Profile

 There are a few similarities between FAFSA and the CSS Profile. First, both are online applications designed to determine the financial eligibility of students. Secondly, you can apply for both as the 1st of October approaches. That is practically a year before the school session starts. Moreover, both allow you to choose the schools you are prying in.  


Basic Differences Between the FAFSA and CSS Profile 

 The FAFSA and CSS Profile have some fundamental differences. Although the results of both forms make similar conclusions for most candidates that apply. This may not be the case for a few students. However, both the applications can aid you in your schooling. or further studies.

1- Aid

The FAFSA delivers grants, scholarships, and loans granted annually by the US Federal Government.  

Although, The CSS gives grants, scholarships, and loans from a private institutions. 

2- Fee  

When studying under FAFSA, you don’t need to pay a penny for education. Therefore, better never hesitate to apply as many times and to as many schools as you want to. 

However, the CSS Profile costs $25 for one school and $16 to file with more schools. Fortunately, this fee can be waived for students who have either received a fee waiver from SAT, have a gross income of less than $100,1000, are under 24 years, are a ward of the court, or are an orphan.  

3- Eligibility 

The students eligible for FAFSA are US citizens and non-US citizens who are permanent residents/refugees/asylum seekers. Whereas, the eligibility for CSS profile is US citizens and global students can also apply.

4- Partner Institutions 

Of course, those post-secondary colleges that offer federal financial aid validate FAFSA.On the other hand, only a few chosen private academies use the CSS profile.  

5- Application Renewal 

You need to apply for both forms every year. It means an application needs renewal.

6- Financial Information 

FAFSA requires confidential information about students and their parents. It is an essential task to get registered by providing financial documents and status including income and asset details; business income. 

On the contrary, the CSS profile requires detailed financial data about the applicant’s family. That involves earnings and asset details such as business income, bank statements, untaxed income records and benefits, and medical expenditures. 

The Key Difference Between the FAFSA and CSS Profile

The additional information asked by the CSS profile marks the most significant difference between the two independent surveys. The CSS profile inquires in-depth about the candidate’s family’s financial situation.

While this may be fruitful for some candidates, some may be at a disadvantage because of this. For example, if a candidate’s parents are divorced, the CSS Profile will demand separate profiles of their accounts while the FAFSA counts only one. Moreover, the CSS Profile also counts the income of small businesses and their unconventional pay.  

Deadlines of The FAFSA and CSS Profile 

The applicant must file the application early as possible. Because the sooner you apply makes better chances for you to get finalized. The deadline for FAFSA is June 30th, before the school year starts.

On the other hand, the deadline for the CSS Profile is decided by the school that offers it. However, it is best to submit two weeks before the actual deadline.  


Where To Apply?

Students can apply for the FASFA on the Federal Student Aid Website or the mystudentAid mobile app. An option is you can complete a PDF online, then printing it out and send by mail. Although, the CSS profile application works online only.

Remember, both FAFSA and CSS profile; independent surveys are open 1st October of every year. Take advantage of these tools to receive the best packages of financial aid for your dream school! 



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