CSS Profile: Free to More Students, Easier to Complete

The CSS Profile™ is now free to students with family incomes up to $100,000, doubling the number of students who can apply at no cost. This change will make it easier for students to access generous aid and scholarships at hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide.

“The CSS Profile provides financial aid officers with the information they need to direct billions of dollars in aid to students,” said College Board CEO David Coleman. “Financial aid benefits millions of working families every year, and we need to make it easier to access those resources.”

“In the wake of the pandemic, there has been a troubling decline in the number of students applying for financial aid,” Coleman said. “It’s crucial that we reach students early and let them know help is available.”

College Board and the higher education community have worked together for more than 70 years to expand financial aid. Alongside member institutions, College Board advocated for the creation and expansion of the federal Pell Grant and helped develop need-based aid as a key driver of college access. The CSS Profile—a common, dynamic financial aid application—is a core part of that partnership, providing colleges vital information to invest in students with need.

“Colleges need to make strategic need-based aid decisions and know their campus dollars are well targeted to students who otherwise could not afford to attend,” said Michael Runiewicz, director of student financial services at Washington University in St. Louis. “Dramatically increasing the number of students who complete the CSS Profile for free helps us send a clear message about the accessibility of financial aid.”

In addition to eliminating application costs for low- and middle-income families, College Board is also making the CSS Profile easier to complete. The CSS Profile already allows low-income students to automatically skip much of the aid application, and those dynamic features will be enhanced for the 2022-23 academic year. 

Approximately 300 colleges, universities, and scholarship organizations use CSS Profile to award non-federal financial aid, funding that goes above and beyond aid awarded through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). CSS Profile schools tend to have generous aid and scholarship programs and serve families with a wide variety of financial situations.

In partnership with members, College Board is also working to develop a lighter, shorter version of the CSS Profile for universities that need more information than FAFSA alone provides but less than today’s CSS Profile offers. The lighter Profile option will be available as early as fall 2022.

“It’s important for students that we preserve a single, common institutional aid application,” said Dean Bentley, executive director of financial aid engagement and services, Career and College Access, at College Board. “Colleges need to know their aid dollars are well targeted so they can continue making those investments with confidence.”

Learn more about CSS Profile at cssprofile.org.