How to File the CSS Profile 

In this article, we will be looking on how to fill the CSS Profile.


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If you are currently reading this article, the chances are, that you are interested in receiving scholarships as an international student. If so, you should definitely check these out:


What is the CSS Profile?

CSS Profile, created by CollegeBoard, is a financial aid application required for students to receive institutional aid. In order to receive Harvard University Scholarships, MIT Scholarships, Yale Scholarships, and many others, they require students to fill out the CSS Profile.

This is different from FAFSA, a form required to receive federal aid, and international students are not eligible to receive federal aid. Most colleges will require you to submit the CSS Profile in order for colleges to calculate your financial need and award financial aid packages accordingly. However, if you are an interantional student, few colleges may ask for International Student Financial Aid Application instead of the CSS Profile.

On the sidenote, if you are interested, check out Best Scholarships in USA for International Students!


How do I fill out the CSS Profile?

In order to start the CSS Profile, you will need to access CollegeBoard and login to your account. After you have logged in, you will need to complete the CSS Profile registration. When you register, keep in mind that it is important to select the correct academic year that you will be applying for financial aid. For example, if you will be a college freshman in the year 2020, then you will need to select the years 2020-2021. After registering, you are ready to enter your financial information.


What kind of financial information does the CSS Profile require?

CSS Profile asks detailed questions about your parent’s income, work benefits, assets, expenses, and business (if applicable). In order to answer these detailed questions, you want to have your tax return forms, certification of income, and certification of house prices ready. The information that you will be entering into the Profile comes from the prior, prior year that you will be applying for financial aid. For example, if you are applying for financial aid in the years 2020-2021, you will use your financial information from prior, prior year to 2020 which will be the financial information from 2018.


When is the CSS Profile available? Do I need to fill CSS Profile quickly?

CSS Profile is available on October 1st every year, and you want to complete it as soon as it is available. First, it asks you detailed questions about your financial information, and you want to have time to find the needed information. If you are completing it in a hurry, there is a great possibility that you will be entering wrong information because you did not have time to find more information about it. Second, you want to focus on other application materials as early as possible. If you are completing CSS Profile, the Common Application essays, and the supplementary essays simultaneously, you will extremely stressed. In order to reduce your stress and anxiety, you want to finish the CSS Profile and other financial documents that you will need. Third, you want to finish it as soon as it is available especially if you are applying for Early Decision. Remember, the deadline to submit the CSS Profile will be quickly approaching if you are applying for Early Decision.


Is there any other financial documents that I need to fill out other than the CSS Profile?

Yes, there are two other financial documents that you will need to fill out. While you are completing the CSS Profile, it is a good idea to finish International Student Certification and Finance and International Student Financial Aid Application at the same time. You will have the financial information available for the CSS Profile, so why not kill three birds in one stone? Since these two documents are much less detailed than the CSS Profile, you will have no problem finishing these documents with the information that you will need for the CSS Profile.


Is there a cost to file the CSS Profile?

Yes, there is 25 dollar fee for the first college to which you send CSS profile, and 16 dollar fee for each college afterwards. If you are filing early decision, wait until you receive the results from that college in order to save money if you do get accepted.


I hope that this article on the filling out the CSS Profile was helpful. If you are interested, I highly suggest that you look at USA Scholarships Page!

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8 Responses

  1. arrietaiwt says:

    If an international student is applying from his/her home country, what kind of information would be required?

    • lh1999 says:

      It really depends on the university. For financial aid, many universities require the CSS profile and the Certificate of Income. Some require International Student Financial Aid Application. For admissions, almost all universities use the Common Application or the Coalition Application.

  2. Susan Cook says:

    So do I have to get my house valued?! I’m in England

  3. LSSYA says:

    I’m from Ethiopia & I wanted to get a full funded scholarship due to not being able to afford it but I’m not understanding the concept of CSS profile. So basically, I’ve to value everything we have?

    • lh1999 says:

      Yes. If you click on the links that leads you to the CSS profile, you will understand which things that you need to value to fill in the required information.

  4. Cam says:

    I am from Romania. There is no tax return form in my country, what documents do I need to use for financial aid? Thank you!

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