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College Bound: Don't overlook CSS/Profile when seeking financial aid

Posted February 5, 2013

While most parents and students are aware of the need to complete a FAFSA form in order to receive financial aid, many often overlook the additional CSS/Profile that is required by most private and some public universities.

Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS/Profile is a way to provide non-federal funds to students by way of grants and scholarships.

In order to complete the CSS/Profile, you must go to the College Board website and register to complete the application. The College Board recommends you have the following information available while filling out the form:

  • 2012 federal income tax return(s), if completed
  • 2011 federal income tax return(s)
  • W-2 forms and other records of money earned in 2012
  • Records of untaxed income and benefits for 2011 and 2012
  • Current bank statements
  • Current mortgage information
  • Records of savings, stocks, bonds, trusts, and other investments
  • Your noncustodial parent's email address, if applicable.

It is best to complete your taxes before completing this form, as information cannot be changed once submitted.

However, if the school has an early deadline, estimate your answers using your 2011 taxes. For students of divorced parents, the form should be completed by the custodial parent. Once completed, the CSS Profile can be sent to multiple schools. The cost of the first school is $25 and each additional school is $16.

The filing date for the CSS/Profile is usually two weeks before the priority FAFSA deadline for each individual school.

However, it is best to check with each institution you are applying to in order to be safe. Below are the filing dates for the North Carolina schools that require the CSS/Profile:

  • March 1, UNC-Chapel Hill;
  • March 1. Duke;
  • Feb. 15 (priority) and March 1, Wake Forest;
  • Feb. 15, Davidson.

The CSS Profile is a bit more involved than the FAFSA, so take your time. Make sure you read the instructions provided before you begin.

For those needing additional assistance, the College Board offers an online webinar, as well as Power Point presentation. Click here to see it.

Christine M. Hall, Ed.D., is owner of CMH College Consulting in Cary. Hall, who has children of her own, offers advice on the college application and decision process here on Go Ask Mom from time to time.

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