YCBK 396: Do I send my test scores if they are high for my HS but not my colleges [Transcript]
Inside the 2024-2025 CSS Profile
When financing a college education, understanding the ins and outs of financial aid applications, including the CSS Profile, is critical.
This is an in-depth review of the 2024-2025 CSS Profile from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). Gail Holt, Dean of Financial Aid at Amherst College, provides a comprehensive review of this financial aid application required by nearly 200 colleges. She also highlights updates for the current version.
One advantage of the CSS Profile is that it allows colleges and universities to collect more detailed financial information from families than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There are more than 200 questions on the CSS Profile, more than four times as many as on the new simplified FAFSA.
Unlike the FAFSA, the CSS Profile may consider private school K-12 tuition for a sibling, home equity, cost of living, and the non-custodial parent’s income and assets. Each school can ask customized questions based on their unique priorities. Families can also provide information on relevant extenuating circumstances that may impact their ability to pay.
Because the Profile provides schools with a more complete financial picture of a student, they can use their institutional methodology to evaluate a family’s financial situation. It’s used to determine how much money the school will award and provide personalized financial aid packages for each student. Whereas the FAFSA is primarily used to determine how much gift aid and self-help will be received from the government, mainly in the form of federal aid, but many states use the FAFSA to determine state aid as well. The Profile is essential in determining aid awards for schools that meet full financial need. It’s important to note that the majority of the time, a family is surprised by how much of their discretionary money colleges expect the family to pay for billable and non-billable college expenses, so even when a school says they meet your student’s “full-need,” you don’t determine what your need is, it is their formula that determines your student’s need. We strongly recommend that you complete a net price calculator well in advance so you get an estimate of what you will be asked to pay.
The CSS Profile website also provides resources for international students and noncustodial parents and expanded information on fee waivers.