What does it mean?
The PROFILE’s full name is actually the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. The CSS stands for College Scholarship Service. It is a financial aid application administered by the College Board for non-federal financial aid. There are around 200 four-year undergraduate programs that use the PROFILE to award financial aid. Students who apply to schools that use the PROFILE financial aid form will still have to complete the FAFSA to qualify for federal aid.
Unlike the FAFSA, students have to pay $25 to submit the PROFILE and then $16 for each additional school. Only by completing the PROFILE financial aid form can students find out if they’re eligible for fee waivers. It also requires more information than the FAFSA and there isn’t any easy import from the IRS to populate most of the fields. It also asks for information that isn’t reported to the IRS.
How does it affect how much you pay for college?
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated by the PROFILE can be dramatically different from that produced by the FAFSA. The PROFILE asks for information on your home value and retirement accounts which are not reported on the FAFSA. Furthermore, some colleges will require this information even from independent students. Depending on the school, the PROFILE may ask for information on non-custodial parents as well.
While the PROFILE financial aid form asks for more information about your family’s assets, it also takes into consideration other expenses such as private elementary and secondary school tuition and medical expenses. The idea is that the PROFILE will allow the college to have a better idea of your family’s financial situation and ability to pay for college.
Obviously, since the PROFILE considers different information than the FAFSA, it’s possible that families will have very different EFCs based on the different methodologies. And since each PROFILE school selects which questions it will use on the form such as home equity, the EFC can vary dramatically among PROFILE schools.
This means families need to use the College Board’s EFC calculator to estimate EFC for PROFILE schools since they are the ones that can estimate the institutional methodology. The calculator will also provide the federal methodology for comparison. It’s also important that families use the colleges Net Price Calculators to see how major assets like home equity will be treated.
Where can you learn more?
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