CSS Profile vs FAFSA

Confused about CSS profile vs FAFSA? Learn the differences between FAFSA and CSS Profile | How to apply for them and more.

TCM Staff

21st August 2020

To make things easy there are online forms such as CSS Profile and FAFSA. We all know that investing in ourselves is never a bad option, especially when it comes to college and tuition fees, but where does this fund come from when faced with high tuition fees, and how do you know that you are eligible for a particular scholarship or student loan. 

CSS Profile is an online application form which helps the students in applying for financial aid through the college boards, on the other hand, FAFSA is also an online application form very similar to the CSS Profile, but FAFSA provides financial aids via the federal government.

What is CSS Profiling?

CSS Profile(College Scholarship Service Profile) is a form of application very similar to FAFSA unless CSS is issued by the college board, and requires more clear information than the FAFSA, which is used to calculate the student’s financial aid, in case if the student has already applied for FAFSA, he can still apply for CSS Profile.

To know more read through CSS Profile

What is FAFSA?

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a type of form created by the federal government which acts as a medium that determines the eligibility of student’s financial aid such as Pell Grants, Federal Student Loans, and some Scholarship programs when a student needs some sort of financial aid via any federal institution(s).

To know more read through the complete guide on FAFSA

Factors that differentiate CSS Profile from FAFSA

Let's look at the given factors that distinguish the CSS profile from FAFSA

Who can apply for these financial aids?

Any student, who is a U.S. citizen and eligible noncitizen will meet the eligibility criteria for FAFSA.

But whereas this CSS profile is available for both the citizen of the U.S as well as any other international student applicants.

How to apply?

Students can apply for CSS by creating a student profile on the college board website, register in it to start the application online via Collegeboard.org.

Students can apply for FAFSA online at fafsa.gov or even by using the MyStudentAid mobile app. Or else the students can also create a pdf, then print and send them by mail.

When to apply?

Each institution has its CSS deadline, but you shouldn’t apply later than 2 weeks from the earliest date. most of the deadline falls between jan.1 and mar.1, and few have early fillings in November.

Filing for the FAFSA close to the start date will likely improve the possibility of getting more grants, scholarships, and financial aids.

Deadlines may differ based on the state, college, and federal institution

 For more FAFSA Deadline.

How much does it cost?

You will need to pay a $25 fee to complete the CSS profile, but it will be waived once you meet some requirements and procedures. And again you will have to pay a $16 fee for each additional school that we submit.

The FAFSA is completely free to apply, but all the federal aid’s need not be free, Grants, scholarships, and work-study do not need to be repaid, but federal student loans should be repaid with due interest.

What information is required?

CSS requires more information about your family finances like family’s annual income as well as medical expenses and anything else that could affect your ability to pay.incase if your parents are divorced then you’ll need information from both of them in 2 separate ways to complete the CSS.

FAFSA requires information on family assets and income to calculate an expected family contribution, which is the amount your family will contribute toward paying for school.


The CSS Profile is issued by the college board, on the other hand, FAFSA is issued by the Federal Government both deals with the student’s financial aid like Scholarships, Grants, and Student Loans.

A student who has applied for FAFSA and if his financial requirements are not met, or if his financial aid is inadequate, then the student can apply for CSS Profile, and vice versa, there is no limitation for a student that he can apply for one, that’s all a myth.

You can apply for both the Financial aid forms (CSS Profile and FAFSA). If you meet the obligations required.

You may also like to read;

Common CSS profile questions

Recent Articles

How to get the highest possible ACT score: A complete guide

Do College Credits Expire ? : College Credit Guide [2024]

What Is a Good SAT Score?

How to Get a Scholarship in 6 Easy Steps?

Undergraduate vs Graduate: What Is the Difference?

Time Management for College Students: 8 Helpful Tips