The CSS Profile Form

The CSS Profile form is often overlooked at Financial Aid Night. There’s always so much emphasis on the FAFSA! But the Profile form is every bit as important as the FAFSA… and for many families, far more important as you’ll learn on this page. The Profile form is administered by The College Board and is much lengthier than the FAFSA.

Click here for College Board’s instructions regarding the CSS Profile Form.

What’s It’s PURPOSE?

For the 250+ colleges that use the CSS Profile form in their financial aid process, the purpose of this form is to provide the colleges with an EFC (Expected Family Contribution) they will use in assessing students’ eligibility for Institutional Need-Based Financial Aid. It’s used in conjunction with the FAFSA form, NOT in lieu of.

So These Schools Use BOTH the FAFSA and Profile Forms?

Yes, about 250+ schools use both forms. And they actually have a very good reason… the FAFSA is a lame form! (Remember… the FAFSA was created by the federal government. Would we really expect anything more than “lame”?) The Profile form, however, is comprehensive in it’s data collection. Let’s discuss some of the shortcomingswhy we see the FAFSA in this light.

For starters, the FAFSA form assesses a family’s “net worth” by asking only 2 questions: your liquid cash, savings, and checking; and your investments. And your investments do NOT include home equity or any retirement assets. Non-W2 wage earners love this… and they should! For them the primary assessment of financial “need” is determined by their AGI (Adjusted Gross Income).

NOT so with the Profile form. All retirement funds are declared (although not used in the EFC calculation) as well as home equity, all business income, even all of your children’s assets (if any). The Profile form is thorough in its data gathering.

From a Business Owner’s Perspective…

For business owners with great income, legitimate biz expenses and a good tax professional, they can be “extremely needy” in the eyes of the government’s FAFSA form! Let’s say mom and dad own a small business and have huge earnings, legitimate depreciation, maybe a little deferred income, a million dollar home, and a couple million in retirement.

The FAFSA form calculation can depict this family as “entitled” to a federal Pell Grant, even an In-State grants. (Your tax dollars at work!) Let me clarify that moms and dads who finds themselves fitting this profile are doing NOTHING illegal, immoral, or illegitimate in any way.

The Profile form doesn’t take into account any losses for Schedule C or Schedule E, so it doesn’t mistakenly ascertain financial neediness of a non-needy family.

For Moms and Dads Not Together…

How ’bout another short-coming of the FAFSA form? It encourages the wrong things and one might even suggest, downright fraud! Here’s an example: If mom and dad claim to be separated, then only one parent’s income is declared. And families conveniently declare, of course, the lower-income bread-winner.

Not so on the Profile form. Many schools require a Non-Custodial Profile Form in the case of not only a divorce, but a declared separation as well. The FAFSA doesn’t attempt to confirm a separation and asks nothing about the “estranged” parent’s income. Hmmm…

So The College Has 2 EFC Calculations?

Yes, colleges that require the CSS Profile form (again, in ADDITION to the FAFSA) will have 2 EFC’s (Expected Family Contributions) to work with. The “Federal EFC” (from the FAFSA) will be used to determine eligibility for any federal and in-state funds… and the “Institutional EFC” (from the CSS Profile). 

They use the CSS Profile EFC calculation to determine any institutional money… i.e., money out of their own pocket. Understandably, the form is far more invasive than the FAFSA in order to get a true and accurate “profile” of the family’s legitimate need.

In Case You’re Overwhelmed…

Many families find themselves overwhelmed with all these new terms and concepts: FAFSA, CSS Profile, Dual EFC’s, Need-Based Financial Aid, and the list goes on and on. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, FEAR NOT! GetCollegeFunding is here to rescue you! We offer assistance to families all across America through a wide offering of services. Click here to see.

Some families just want our guidance as they learn how to complete the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile forms. For some families, they want nothing to do with these goofy forms, so they hire us to do everything. And for others who realize that the forms are just a small part of the whole College Planning process, we serve them with entire programs, all the way up to and including Essay and Application “Polishing”.

If we can be of any service to you, we have 3 options for you. You can:

– Call us at 949.485.2639.

– Email us at

– Sign up for a private College Readiness Review for only $297.

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