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Every School that Requires the CSS Profile
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Over 400 schools use the CSS Profile to determine their financial aid offers to prospective students. Among these are top colleges and the Ivy League, so if you plan on applying to some of the best schools in the nation, it’s in your best interest to learn what the CSS Profile is and to make sure that you know what to expect when completing it.
What is a CSS Profile?
The CSS Profile is a financial aid form administered by College Board, which is the same organization that administers the SAT and AP exams. The CSS Profile helps colleges to determine your financial need and award you with a financial aid package that can make college both affordable and accessible.
The CSS Profile asks for much of the same information as the FAFSA, including tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, and other records of income. Like the FAFSA, it will calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), or what your family should expect to pay towards your college costs.
That said, the CSS Profile generally provides a more thorough picture of your household income to schools than the FAFSA does, allowing colleges to determine which types of institutional aid they can award in addition to any federal aid you might have received. There are even a few scholarship programs that use the CSS Profile to verify your eligibility for their scholarships.
Unlike the FAFSA, you have to pay to send the CSS profile to schools, though you may qualify for a fee waiver if you received one for the SAT. Otherwise, sending the CSS profile costs $25 for the first school, and $16 for each additional one.
How Do Schools Use the CSS Profile?
Given that the CSS Profile and the FAFSA ask for a lot of the same information, and every school requires that you complete and submit the FAFSA, the CSS Profile might seem redundant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While the FAFSA awards federal aid, the CSS Profile is used by schools to award institution-based aid.
Federal financial aid often won’t cover the cost of college alone, which is why receiving institutional aid is so important. For example, the maximum amount of a Pell grant this year is $6,095, but many schools have tuition that is double or even triple that amount. This is where institutional aid can help you cover the difference and lessen the financial burden for you and your family.
The two forms also provide different pictures of your household finances. For example, the FAFSA doesn’t ask for your expenses, just your income and household size which can result in a higher EFC. On the other hand, the CSS Profile asks you about your family’s medical or childcare costs, which might lower your EFC (and qualify you for more aid).
Colleges use both of these forms to create a complete picture of your financial situation and decide how best to supplement the federal aid you’re already receiving. Schools that accept the CSS Profile will award institutional need-based aid in the form of grants or scholarships. While these grants and scholarships range in value depending on the school, they all lessen your potential loan burden, and who can argue with less debt?
You can learn more about how the FAFSA and CSS Profile complement each other in our post FAFSA, CSS Profile, IDOC, Oh My: A Guide to Financial Aid.
List of Schools that Use the CSS Profile
To get you started, here’s a list of schools that use the CSS Profile to award financial aid.
Berklee College of Music | Berklee
Boston College | BC
Boston University | BU
Bryn Mawr College
California Institute of Technology | Caltech
Carnegie Mellon University | CMU
Case Western Reserve University
Catholic University of America | CUA
Claremont McKenna College | CMC
College of the Holy Cross | Holy Cross
College of William & Mary | William & Mary
College of Wooster
Franklin and Marshall College | F&M
George Washington University | GW
Harvey Mudd College | HMC
Hobart and William Smith Colleges | HWS
Johns Hopkins University | JHU
Loyola University Maryland
Massachusetts Institute of Technology | MIT
Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute
Mount Holyoke College
New York University | NYU
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | RPI
Rhode Island School of Design | RISD
Sacred Heart University | SHU
Santa Clara University
Southern Methodist University | SMU
St. Anselm College
St. Edward’s University
St. Olaf College
Stevens Institute of Technology
Texas Christian University | TCU
Union College (New York)
University of Chicago
University of Denver
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | UNC
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania | UPenn
University of Richmond
University of Rochester
University of San Francisco | USF
University of Southern California | USC
University of Virginia | UVA
Wake Forest University
Washington and Lee University
Wheaton College (Massachusetts)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute | WPI
Wrapping it Up
Colleges are actively trying to attract diverse, high-achieving students to attend their campuses. Providing greater financial aid is one way these schools hope to make college accessible to everyone and to attract the best and the brightest.
At CollegeVine, we find that many students lose out on aid that they otherwise might have qualified for simply because they didn’t know where to look or what steps to take. We help students complete financial aid forms like the CSS Profile on time, and work with them to identify additional scholarships that they may qualify for. On average, our students earned $25,000 more in scholarships and were able to attend the school of their dreams. Find out if working with our financial aid tools is right for you!
Check out some of our other posts on financial aid:
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