Student Aid: Filling Out the CSS Profile


Story by Christine M. Hall, Ed.D., president of CMH College Consulting in Cary. Photo of UNCW by Aaron Alexander. Part 3 in the FAFSA series.

Cary, NC – Paying for college is an expensive proposition and most parents need all the help they can get. Have you filled out the FAFSA yet? You may need to also fill out the CSS Profile. Here’s what you need to know.

CSS Profile

CSS Profile stands for College Scholarship Service Profile.

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.

Here’s What You Need on Hand:

  • 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.

Do Your Taxes First

It is best to complete your taxes before completing this form, as information can NOT 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 2 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:

UNC Chapel Hill -3/1; Duke -3/1; Wake Forest 2/15 (priority)-3/1; and Davidson 2/15

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.