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Tagged: Financial aid

CSS Profile vs. FAFSA: What is the difference?

October 15th, 2019

Understanding need-based financial aid can be overwhelming, and through this blog post we hope to alleviate some of your confusion. The first question that many families ask is, “How do we apply for aid?” While students apply for admission, parents seeking need-based assistance take care of the financial aid application process.

There are two principal forms to understand: all colleges use the FAFSA in computing financial aid award packages, and some private colleges also require the CSS Profile to review a family’s financial resources from a different perspective. Every college offers a financial aid section on its website, where you can find highly detailed information about both process and requirements.

With both FAFSA and CSS Profile live as of October 1st, questions naturally arise. We’re often asked, “What, exactly, is the difference between the two?” The article linked below from NerdWallet lays out the basics of both FAFSA and Profile pretty clearly.

Please note: on today’s blog post we focus primarily on need-based financial aid, but many families are interested in merit scholarships as well. While both need-based and merit scholarships provide college students with financial assistance, a merit scholarship is generally unrelated to demonstrated financial need; instead, it’s based on a high level of achievement in academics, athletics or the arts. We’ll devote a future blog post specifically to merit scholarships.

Article linked below from NerdWallet, published September 30, 2019, written by Anna Helhoski

CSS Profile vs. FAFSA: How Are They Different?

To get financial aid for college, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. But your school may also want you to submit the CSS Profile, an additional application that determines state and institutional financial aid.

» MORE: Your guide to financial aid

The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal aid like the Pell Grant, work-study and federal student loans if you attend most colleges that participate in the Title IV federal financial aid program. The application is also often required by states and schools for their own scholarship and grant programs.

The CSS Profile is only used by certain schools, listed on the CSS Profile site, as part of their financial aid process for aid like grants and scholarships.

To read more go to Nerd Wallet>>

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Applying for financial aid: FAFSA and CSS PROFILE

February 13th, 2017

Parents of high school seniors have likely already finalized their FAFSA and PROFILE forms, as they are now available on October 1st each year.  How nice to have that completed!

Parents of juniors, however, are just beginning to wade in to the process.  In today’s blog, we link you to an article posted by  This educational writeup provides a helpful walk-through of what lies in store on the financial aid front.

The first step in receiving federal student aid for college is completing the FAFSA (Federal Student Aid) form.  The next step, for many, is the CSS PROFILE, an application required by hundreds of colleges and universities to award financial aid from sources outside of the federal government.  This task can be overwhelming and stressful; however, there is a lot of great guidance available online to guide families’ efforts.

This Forbes article provides an excellent, detailed review of the process – one of the best we’ve seen – and we encourage readers to share it with others who may benefit from the information.

Article below published January 8, 2017

Written by:  Troy Onink

If you ever wondered how your income and assets are counted against you when your child applies for college aid, and if there is anything you can do to maximize your aid eligibility — wonder no more. Updated for 2017, this comprehensive guide to college financial aid includes new tips and insights to help you estimate how much your family will be expected to contribute toward the cost of college and how to maximize your financial aid eligibility. This guide will help you gain a clear understanding of how the college financial aid system works with straight-forward explanations of expected family contribution (EFC), need-based financial aid, merit aid, and how your income and assets count against you on the FAFSA and CSS Profile college aid forms.

Applying for College Financial Aid

The process of applying for need-based financial aid for college begins by students and parents completing one or two financial aid forms, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and/or the CSS Profile.

Read more at Forbes >>

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FAFSA changes

September 12th, 2016

In previous years students have filed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or after January 1st.  No need for waiting any more!  The federal education department will now open the application process as of October 1st in order to line up more effectively with the college application process.  We’ve been hearing about this change for some time but we wanted to save this article to share as October draws nearer.

While October 1st is the opening date for FAFSA forms to be filed, it is by no means a deadline.  Each college sets its own deadline for financial aid application completion. In this New York Times article, many of your FAFSA questions will be answered; however, it is always important to pay close attention to each college’s financial aid requirements.

An important note:  some private colleges, especially those that are more selective, also require the CSS Profile and/or their own institution’s supplemental application. Every college’s financial aid website spells out steps and requirements quite clearly.

Takeaway:  to be certain your financial aid applications will be completed for review, keep track of what’s needed, as well as related deadlines.

Article below published August 10, 2016

Written by:  Ann Carrns

As college-bound students prepare for a new school year, they should be aware of a new date that’s important for future financial aid: Oct. 1.

That’s the new, earlier date after which students can file the Fafsa, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The infamous form is used to calculate how much students and their families must contribute to the cost of college, and how much help they will get in the form of grants, scholarships and loans. Students seeking financial aid must file the form, used by most states and colleges as the gateway to financial aid, each year.

Read more at New York Times >>

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Taming college debt: Purdue’s savvy tuition plan(s)

July 5th, 2016

According to the White House, nearly 70% of bachelor degree graduates take on college loan debt.  This $1.2 trillion debt is ruining many recent graduates’ credit and preventing them from beginning the life they have been working towards.  While many colleges are raising their tuition rates each and every year, Purdue University has taken an alternative approach.

Along with a tuition freeze that Purdue has adopted since 2012, they are now introducing a new concept to further help students pay back their debts.  This program, called “Back a Boiler,” is an income-share agreement provided by the Purdue Research Foundation.  Instead of borrowing from lenders with interest rates, students will agree to pay back a percentage of their income for nine years or less after graduation.  This percentage will be based on the student’s income from their post-college job.  The Chicago Tribune gives you a deeper understanding of what this program is about in the article posted below.

Article published May 11, 2016

This fall, Purdue University undergrads will welcome two things: their parents waving goodbye and their tuition bills frozen for the fourth straight year — with a fifth tuition freeze coming for undergrads in 2017-18. Purdue under efficiency-wise President Mitch Daniels is showing colleges across the nation how to control costs, restrain tuition increases and still provide a quality education. (And a Big Ten-derhearted shoutout here to the University of Illinois, which has frozen tuition two years in a row for new in-state undergraduates.)

Read more at Chicago Tribune >>

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