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If you’re applying to colleges, you’re probably familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the form you fill out to become eligible for federal student aid like scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and federal student loans.
But many schools also have internal aid programs that you can’t qualify for just by completing the FAFSA. In these cases, you will also need to complete the CSS (College Scholarship Service) profile. Here’s how to find the CSS profile deadline for the 2022-23 school year.
What is the CSS profile deadline for 2022-23?
Like the FAFSA, the CSS profile has a variety of timelines to consider. Your exact deadline depends on the college you are applying to. Most colleges have a CSS deadline that matches their application deadline, which often runs from November to March. Early decision, transfer and international students may have different CSS deadlines.
The new CSS profile opens every fall. For the 2022-23 academic year, the CSS profile became available on October 1, 2021, the same open date as the FAFSA. As a general rule, it is wise to submit the CSS profile as close to the opening date as possible.
Be aware of the types of deadlines
Schools can have several types of CSS profile deadlines, such as a CSS priority deadline and a regular deadline.
If you submit the CSS profile before your school’s priority deadline, your information will be reviewed first and you can inquire about your financial aid program earlier in the process. This could be useful if you are applying to multiple schools and need to consider costs before making a final decision on where to enroll.
Of course, you can apply before your school’s usual CSS profile deadline. You may still be eligible for financial aid through the college, but your profile will be reviewed after those who submitted it before the priority deadline and you will receive a financial aid decision later.
It is often beneficial to complete the CSS profile as soon as possible. Some school scholarships and awards are only available on a first-come, first-served basis, so even if you apply before the usual CSS deadline, you may still run out of help.
How to Find Your School’s CSS Deadline
Not every school needs a CSS profile, so your first step is to see if the colleges you are applying to require one. You can see a full list of schools that use the CSS profile on the CollegeBoard website. Once you’ve confirmed which schools need it, visit the college’s financial aid website, which should list the FAFSA and CSS deadlines.
Find the deadline that describes the type of student you are applying for (eg, early decision or transfer student). You can see both priority and regular due date listed on the site. If possible, submit the CSS before the priority deadline so that your financial aid package is determined sooner.
If you don’t see a deadline listed on the site, contact the Financial Aid Department and ask about their CSS deadline. And remember, you only have to complete one CSS profile, which will then be submitted to all the schools you requested. So, although each college may have a different deadline, plan to complete the application before the nearest deadline you find among the desired schools.
How to streamline the process
Submitting the CSS profile is similar to submitting the FAFSA. You’ll need comparable financial information, including tax returns, W2 forms, bank statements, and investment information. Gather all the documents and keep them in one place. If you store documents digitally, label each file so you know what it is without having to open it. Staying organized is key to simplifying the process.
You can also create a user account on the CSS profile dashboard, where you will submit the application. This allows you to save and return to the form if you cannot complete it in one session. You can also compile the list of schools you are planning to apply to. Once you have completed the application, you will be asked which institutions you would like the CSS profile to be submitted to.
Completing the CSS profile may take longer than completing the FAFSA in some cases because there may be more questions about your financial situation. If your parents are divorced, they may each need to file a CSS application on your behalf. If you do not have contact with one of your parents, you can request a waiver to exclude their information from your file.
You may need to start the application process sooner than you think – CollegeBoard recommends giving you up to two weeks to fully complete the application and submit it to schools.
Is it worth completing the CSS profile?
Applying to college is a lot of work, and you will need to gather transcripts, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and other supporting documents. In addition to being accepted into college, most students must also submit the FAFSA to be eligible for federal student loans and other aid.
Because the CSS profile is optional and can be cumbersome to fill out, some families may be tempted to ignore it. But remember that the CSS application is often required if you hope to qualify for internal scholarships and grants. These scholarships can reduce the amount you need in student loans, so don’t ignore the CSS profile.
If you are comfortable completing the FAFSA, completing the CSS profile should be a relatively similar process. Just be sure to track your due dates and plan ahead.
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