CSS/Profile: Maximize Your Financial Aid Opportunities

imagesMost college students receive some form of financial aid. You won’t know if you qualify unless you apply, so do your homework to make sure you are in a position to benefit from any and all opportunities.

Each college and university has their own requirements for students applying for financial aid, scholarships and grant money. Check the financial aid section of each school’s website or call the financial aid office directly to confirm their requirements.

Schools use a number of aid forms. By now you are probably working on your FAFSA application. Another form required by hundreds of colleges to determine student eligibility for non-federal student aid is the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, short for the College Scholarship Service Profile.

The CSS/PROFILE is an application distributed by College Board which must be completed online at www.collegboard.org in order to be considered for all need-based university grants and scholarships. The information you provide in your CSS/PROFILE will be sent by College Board to the colleges and universities that you specify. So, after you’ve registered with College Board, look through the list of participating colleges and universities to determine if any of the schools on your list use the CSS/PROFILE as part of their financial aid process. If you already have a College Board account, you can use your user name and password for the CSS/PROFILE as well. Don’t forget to keep your user name and password in a safe place for future reference.

You can use the pre-application worksheet to help you get ready to complete the application. It’ll be helpful to have these documents handy:

  • Current and previous year’s income tax returns
  • W2 forms and other records of income earned in the current year
  • Records of untaxed income and benefits for the current and previous tax years, current bank statements, and records of savings, stocks, bonds, trusts, and other investments

Make sure to pay attention to the priority and closing filing dates for each school. Some aid is granted on a first-come, first-served basis so apply as early as allowed.

When you’re done, print the acknowledgment page and file it in a safe place.

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