FAFSA and CSS Profile

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid program is the largest provider of student aid in the nation. It provides more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 15 million students paying for college or career school. The U.S. Department of Education’s online FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) lets you apply for student financial aid over the Internet. Colleges use your FAFSA to determine your eligibility to receive federal grants, loans, and work-study programs. Check out the FAFSA website for more information.

Some colleges are now requiring applicants to fill out the FASFA and/or the CSS (see below) regardless of whether or not you are applying for financial aid. This is a growing trend and will likely become more prevalent as time goes on.

The Federal Student Aid program's website, StudentAid.gov, provides easy-to-understand information about planning and paying for college.

CSS (College Scholarship Service)

The CSS (College Scholarship Service) is a financial aid profile produced by the College Board. The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE is an online application that collects financial information used by almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award financial aid from sources outside the federal government, such as institutional scholarships, grants, and loans. The College Board will send your application to the colleges and scholarship programs that you designate. Not all colleges and scholarship programs require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE. Check the colleges you’re interested in to see if they require it.