Financial Aid

Questions and Answers about the CSS Profile

Learn if you must complete a CSS Profile for each school, whose account you complete the profile under, how customized questions work, how to determine the value of your home, how to complete it as a noncustodial parent, and more.
Father and daughter completing the CSS Profile

We recently held a webinar for families that provided an overview of the CSS Profile® ("Profile" for short), a financial aid application required by roughly 200 colleges, universities, and scholarship services across the country. We received some great questions from participants during the webinar, and have answered a handful of them here.

Do we complete the Profile once and send it to multiple schools? Or do one for every school?

You will just need to complete the CSS Profile once. On the application you will list the schools where you would like your information sent.

Do I fill out the Profile under the student's College Board account?

Yes, completing the Profile under the student's College Board® account is probably the easiest way to complete it, as most students already have an account. As well, if a student received an SAT® fee waiver, the student will automatically receive one for the CSS Profile, as long as the Profile is completed under the student's College Board account. If you prefer your student not to see the information you submit on the Profile, you can register for your own College Board account as the parent. To do so, you would register for a new student account (even though you are the parent) and answer the registration questions with your own information.

If I fill out the CSS Profile using my account, how does it link to my child's account?

Your Profile will be sent to the schools you list, who will match it to the student's admissions account using the student's name and address that you list on the Profile.

When is my student's CBFinAidID generated?

The CBFinAidID is generated once the student has completed all of the "getting started" data and is in the parent section. Once the CBFinAidID is generated, it will appear on the student dashboard. However, if you are completing the Profile under an account you created as the parent and you are not the noncustodial parent, your student will not have a separate CBFinAidID. The only CBFinAidID assigned will be the one you received under the account you created. In that case, when asked to provide the student's CBFinAidID, you can leave that question blank. You will only need to provide the student's CBFinAidID if you are the noncustodial parent.

If a school asks a customized question, will all schools see the response? Or just the school that asked the question?

Only the school that asked the customized question will be able to view the answer.

Is the question asking about the value of my retirement a required question?

That question is optional. You can choose whether or not to answer it.

How do I determine the value of my home?

Give your best estimate of what your home could be sold for today. You can check recent home sales in your neighborhood for reference or real estate websites that provide home value estimates like Zillow.

If I'm the noncustodial parent, can I do my Profile first, before the student begins?

As the noncustodial parent, you will need to wait until the students starts the Profile and lists at least one school that requires the noncustodial parent to complete a Profile. Then you will be permitted to start your own Profile, either clinking on the link you receive from College Board or entering the student's CBFinAidID when you start your Profile.

For twins, how do I complete the Profile? Can I use one account?

If you have multiple children required to submit a Profile, you will need to complete two Profiles, and each Profile will need to be completed under a different College Board account. It is easiest to use each student's account to complete each student's Profile. If you would rather create a parent account, you will need to create two parent accounts, using two different email addresses, and complete each Profile under each separate account.

What if our tax return was filed as married filing separately? Do we still complete the Profile together?

Yes, if you're married, then you and your spouse will complete the Profile together. You'll just need to refer to both of your tax returns when answering the parent income questions.

Is there a separate login for IDOC?

The student will be able to log in to IDOC using two of the following: the CBFinAidID, date of birth, or SSN. Students will not be able to log in to IDOC until they receive an email invitation to do so from College Board.

Do you have questions about the Profile that we didn't answer here? Reference the CSS Profile's FAQs on their website here. You can also reach out to us at or (800) 449-MEFA (6332). We're happy to help. And to watch our webinar, What to Know about the CSS Profile, visit our website here.

Watch the What to Know about the CSS Profile webinar recording