College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile - Complete Guide

Learn all about College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile and how to complete and fill out the online application.

TCM Staff

20th December 2019

The College Scholarship Service, a.k.a CSS is an online application form that allows students to apply for financial aid, outside of the federal government. Its main purpose is to give the member institutions of the College Board an extensive picture of the financial and family situation of the students seeking financial aid. The CSS Profile is designed to manage the financial aid process in an efficient way. Yes, it’s almost like the FAFSA, but the CSS is a bit more detailed though.

Unlike FAFSA, the CSS Profile is available to citizens as well as international student applicants. As of now, more than 400 American scholarship programs, universities, and schools, including the likes of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, all require the CSS Profile. But do check and confirm with the university you plan to attend, if they require it.

Also Read - CSS Profile Vs FAFSA

The application and deadline information

The application for the CSS Profile usually starts on October 1 every year, and you should apply for it the year before you wish to receive the financial aid. The CSS Profile deadline is different for each school. But it’s recommended to submit the application no later than two weeks before the earliest deadline. 

Application details

The application will ask questions specific to the school or program you’re applying to, and also regarding the financial situation, annual income, and family medical expenses. The profile will also require a minimum student contribution. When you register for the CSS profile, you will need the profile code of the school or program to which you’re applying to. If the parents are divorced, then they’ll each need to complete the CSS profile separately.


The application fee is $25.00 to submit CSS Profile to a single college, university, or scholarship program and $16.00 per each additional school or program.

Applicants who may receive a CSS fee waiver: 

  • First-time US college applicants, if the student qualified for an SAT fee waiver 

  • If the student is an orphan or ward of the court under the age of 24 

  • If the parental income is $45,500 or less for a family of four.

How to complete the CSS Profile?


  • Have financial documents and tax records ready

  • Expect to be asked about assets, tax returns, bank statements, income, and expenses.

  • If parents are divorced, they’ll each need to complete the CSS profile.

  • Your application is saved along the way, so you can return to it at any time to complete the application

  • You’ll receive alerts to any missing information

  • The information you provide is encrypted and stored with firewall protection.

Application Process

  • Create a student profile on the College Board website. After you register, you can start the application online at

  • The applications may be different depending on your family situation and the colleges or programs you select. You can save your application and return to complete it at any time.

  • The application takes one to two hours to complete. If you need help, you can use their user services like live chat. 

  • Upon completing, you can submit the application. 

  • The payment can be done online and you’ll receive an online acknowledgment of your application. Make sure to read the acknowledgment to see if there are any further steps you must take. 

  • A final step in completing your application is selecting a college or scholarship program and entering your payment information.

Bottom line

The CSS Profile is not really that complicated to fill out. You can ensure a smooth application process by keeping your documents and the required information ready on hand before filling out your form.

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