Students and their families are well-aware that a FAFSA form must be submitted in order to receive federal financial aid.  However, lesser known is the fact that several private universities require a financial aid supplement form—the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile.  Its purpose is to determine each individual’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  While the FAFSA does this, the methodology differs between forms. For example, the CSS Profile considers financial sources such as home equity.  Application fees are as follows: $9 for the application and $16 for each copy sent.

While the idea of more paperwork seems daunting, you can make it easier on yourself by practicing.  Students can practice writing out the CSS Profile online or in printed form.  Bear in mind that just like the FAFSA, there is a deadline.  For the CSS profile, it is beneficial to submit all forms in October of high school senior year. If you are ready to learn about the practice form, read on.
Financial forms are quite thorough, so prior to starting, have the following information:

  • W-2 Forms for the last year
  • Tax Returns from the last year
  • Records of investments
  • Recent bank statements

There are some customized questions for each individual, but most are the same.  Several examples will follow.

Application Data. These questions are answered by family and students.

  • Marital Status
  • Citizenship Status
  • Has and income tax return been completed?
  • Does the family receive financial assistance?

Much more specific data are required.  If you are a dependent, your parents must complete several categories of questions indicating their own finances, employment status, education, etc.

Parents’ Income and Benefits.  An individual must indicate three years’ worth of information, 2014-2016.

  • Total number of exemptions for the year
  • Total taxable income—job-related as well as other

Parents’ Expenses

  • 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?

Students: remember that you must answer these questions for yourself too. If your circumstances are special, there is a space on the CSS Profile Worksheet to provide more information.

This should be a nice overview CSS Profile Worksheet to get you started.  For more detailed practice, worksheets are available in several places online, and consider financial aid consulting!

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