CSS Financial Aid Profile Vs. FAFSA

css financial aid profile form

Written by Shreya Berry

Shreya has expertise in writing engaging content for the readers and has a deep interest in unique applications of technology in various domains. She has worked closely on projects with Neil Patel Digital, Hindustan Times, News 18 and Shiksha.

December 4, 2020

College entry is almost a full-time job: you need a lot of effort to locate colleges, apply to them and await acceptance. However, the overwhelming challenge is still to apply for financial assistance. You have many common ways of receiving financial assistance, including the free Federal Student Aid application (FAFSA) and the profile of college bursaries (CSS Profile). The FAFSA decides your qualifications for federal assistance, while the CSS Profile is a confidential survey used by schools to assess administrative funding. They are also types of service, but they are separate types of aid. In some instances, both FAFSA and CSS Profile can be applied for and qualified for. This is how they are similar, how different they are, and what you need to do to be considered. If you want to know how the CSS Profile is different from the FAFSA, then read on. This blog will tell you the difference between CSS financial aid profile vs FAFSA.

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What you need to know about the FAFSA

In the debate of CSS financial aid profile vs FAFSA, we’ll first attempt to understand what FAFSA really is. FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the federal financial assistance ticket. It is a form used in the United States to evaluate the eligibility for student financial aid. 

FAFSA is different from CSS financial aid profile form, which is predominantly used by private colleges and universities. On the other hand, state and local assistance, in some cases, also include the completion of the FAFSA. FAFSA shall be administered in the form of loans, incentives, career studies, and credit by the Education Department, responsible for disbursing federal aid. Funds are being allocated on a first-coming basis, with financial funding available at a rate of nearly $ 150 billion per year. Although most prospective students fill up the FAFSA form, according to research from Sallie Mae, one in four families does not complete the application because they do not think they can apply or do not know what it is.

For the next academic year, you can complete your FAFSA form on Oct. 1. You can apply from Oct. 1, 2020, if you are studying for the academic year 2021-22. You will have to submit your form sooner due to your country of residence and the school that you are considering, and you must submit your form before June 30 of the coming school year.

How much you earn depends on and where you apply for the planned family donation. The earlier you apply, the more likely it is that grants and bursaries can increase your free assistance. You will need to renew the FAFSA next year by filing again in order to qualify to obtain federal aid (and even, in some cases, state and municipal assistance). A FAFSA member shall be any post-secondary institution receiving (and accepting) federal assistance.

Here is a roadmap to federal student aid through FAFSA, that will tell you the difference between CSS financial aid and FAFSA – 

Get Prepared – gather all the documents you’ll need.
Complete FAFSA Form – apply early to maximise your aid.
Review Student Aid Report – make any necessary changes.
Respond to Aid Offer – accept the right aid that you want. 
Receive Aid – get aid from your chosen school.
Renew Your FAFSA Form – you can reapply every year.

Different Type Of Financial Aid 

Pell Grant 

One of the most popular financial aid for students with a low expected family contribution is the Pell Grant. This grant will offer up to $6,345 per student for the 2020-21 award year. A recent study showed that students missed out on $2.6 billion in free federal Pell Grants by not completing the FAFSA.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) 

This is a grant made especially for undergraduate students in the United States. Eligible students are endowed with a grant between $100 – $4,000. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is given only to students who have completed their FAFSA application early and are eligible to receive this grant.

Stafford Loan

As the name suggests, the Stafford Loan is a loan that is expected to be repaid. However, the salient feature of a Stafford Loan is that it is a highly subsidized loan with fixed interest rate of 4.29% and the interest is paid by the government, while the student is enrolled at least half time. The Federal Direct unsubsidized loan also has a fixed interest rate of 4.29% and accumulates onto the outstanding balance. Stafford Loan amount can be anywhere between $5,500 – $7,500. 

The Federal Work-Study Program

The Federal Work-Study Program is a program where students can work part-time while they attend university. In most cases, the school pays half of a student’s wage and the federal government pays the other half. 

What you need to know about the CSS Profile

It’s now time to analyse the CSS profile part of the CSS financial aid profile vs FAFSA debate. A personalized, unbiased review undertaken by the College Board is the CSS Profile. The SAT and other standardized assessments are also carried out by this group. Most universities and colleges embrace the CSS Profile, but only a few hundred schools do. Many small private universities use the CSS Profile to assess prospective student’s institutional funding. You can complete all forms, but first, check if a CSS Profile is approved by your potential school.

The completion deadlines vary by school, and each school can adjust its survey on CSS Profile to add additional questions on how much assistance it can provide. It depends on your eligibility and when you go to school, how often you get assistance.

The CSS profile takes several different kinds of revenue, properties, and financial commitments into account, while the FAFSA is based on the planned family commitment. If, for example, the financial debt from a hospital stay is already paid, it will influence how much you can assist with the schooling of your child.

If the decision to go to school isn’t approved yet, note that there is a CSS Profile charge: $25 for the first school and $16 for every subsequent school. If you meet one of the following conditions, you can qualify for a charge waiver:

• Waiver of SAT fees has been issued.

• Your parental income for a family of four is less than $45,000 a year.

• You’re beyond the age of 24 and a court ward.

Students with divorced or separated parents will require just one FAFSA total, each parent may need to fill in its own CSS profile.

In a nutshell, CSS Profile lets institutions to do the following – 

  • Identify students who need your institutional funds to enroll.
  • Get comprehensive financial aid applicant information that coordinates with your schedule to make the right decisions at the right time.
  • Use the College Board’s Institutional Methodology (IM) to award your private funds.
  • Estimate eligibility for federal and state funding to fully understand the student’s need for assistance.
  • Communicate early with applicants about potential aid eligibility.

Here are some of the Benefits Of CSS Profile

  • Online applications can be made 24/7 7 days a week so that students meet their institutional deadlines. 
  • Applications tailored to all families, including divorced or separated parents.
  • Early information about students from low-income backgrounds.
  • Flexible options that allow you to adjust the formula for need-based aid.
  • Information about special circumstances, so you can evaluate the need for additional funds before an appeal.
  • Qualified students are entitled to Free CSS Profile based on an automated fee waiver eligibility check.
  • More than 400 schools, colleges, universities, and scholarship programs use CSS Profile to award their aid funds equitably to the right students at the right time.

The bottom line

Finally, we reach the conclusion of our CSS financial aid profile vs FAFSA debate. Although most university students can complete the FAFSA, certain students can apply for additional assistance through the CSS profile. Both of these applications will help you optimize not only federal financial support but also institutional financial support. It could also be necessary to complete FAFSA in order to apply for state and local financial assistance. If your school does not engage in the CSS profile, you will also be able to contact the financial assistance office of your school to find out if it provides administrative grants, bursaries, or loans.

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