Financial Aid

Tips for Completing the CSS Profile

Tips include preparing, knowing your deadlines, understanding whats different, sharing your special circumstances, and knowing when to get help.
Two students completing the CSS Profile on a laptop

You may be one of the thousands of families this year submitting the CSS ProfileTM, the financial aid application required by roughly 200 colleges, universities, and scholarship agencies nationwide.  We've put together some key information to help you get through the Profile application process. Keep this list close at hand over the next several weeks. And if you know someone else who would benefit from the information here, click the email icon to forward this post along.


You'll want to gather your most recent federal tax return, untaxed income records, asset statements, and business documents (if applicable) before you begin the Profile. You'll need this information for both the student and the parents. You can also view this Overview Presentation to get ready.

Know your deadline(s)

Financial aid deadlines are so important, so make sure you understand the date by which the Profile is due to each college and university (and they could be different!) and submit the form on time. If a school lists a priority deadline, plan to submit the Profile before that date.

Understand what's different

The Profile differs from the FAFSA® in several ways, so be aware of its unique features, including:

  • Cost: The Profile charges a fee for each submission
  • Specifics: The Profile will ask for more details than the FAFSA, including the value of your primary home and retirement account, three years' worth of income, annual medical expenses, additional untaxed income, and information on the applicant's siblings
  • Noncustodial Parent Profile: The majority of colleges using the Profile will require a separate application from the noncustodial parent for families with divorced or separated parents

Share your special circumstances

The Profile provides a section in which you can freely explain any information you'd like the financial aid office to know as they evaluate your family's financial aid eligibility, including income fluctuations, high medical expenses, and unique household situations.

Know where to get help

You can contact the Profile customer service team with questions about the application through email at and by phone at (844) 202-0524.

If you'd like further details on the Profile, you can view our recently recorded CSS Profile webinar, which provides a comprehensive overview of the application. And you can also reach out to us at MEFA with any questions throughout the financial aid process. Call us at (800) 449-MEFA (6332) and email us at

Watch our CSS Profile webinar