Pre-FAFSA/CSS Profile Review and Financial Plan
We understand that paying for college can be confusing. Your Guidance Office is here to make the process simpler and college more affordable. As part of our comprehensive spectrum of services, we’re pleased to offer the pre-FAFSA and CSS Profile review. These documents lay the foundation of your financial plan for college.
Our Pre-FAFSA/CSS Profile Review
YGO may provide a referral to an external, licensed financial services professional who specializes in college planning. This professional will analyze your financial data before you submit the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. You’ll receive a firm idea of what your expected family contribution (EFC) is likely to be (the amount the family is expected to pay toward the student’s education). In particular, we recommend scheduling an external review if the family’s income exceeds the maximum limits for federal grants.
Please note that Your Guidance Office is not a party to any services provided by outside professionals and accepts no liability with regard to those externally provided services.
Common Questions About the FAFSA and CSS Profile
What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form that must be submitted in order to access federal funding. In addition, many states and colleges rely on information submitted in the FAFSA to determine which students will receive state and institutional financial aid—and how much aid they will receive. The FAFSA requires information about family finances and assets. Students are also asked to list all of the schools they are interested in attending. The form may be submitted prior to applying to any colleges, however.
What is the CSS Profile?
Although every student needs to submit the FAFSA, not every student will need the CSS Profile. It’s an institutional financial aid document, rather than a federal one. Currently, several hundred schools in the U.S. require a CSS Profile. The CSS Profile is instrumental in determining institutional grants and scholarships.
Are there any other differences between the FAFSA and the CSS Profile?
The FAFSA is free to submit, while the CSS Profile does have a small fee. In addition, the College Board administers the CSS Profile, while the federal government administers the FAFSA. Lastly, the CSS Profile requests more detailed information than the FAFSA, such as data about family medical expenses and other information that can affect the ability to pay for college. The CSS “asses” your assets and other financial resources differently. For example, FAFSA does not consider the home equity in your primary residence as a usable financial resource to pay for college whereas the CSS does. These differences can give you significantly different results in what the colleges expect you to pay if proper planning isn’t utilized.
How will I know if I need to submit the CSS Profile?
By the time your family is ready to explore financial aid, your child should already have a firm list of schools he or she is interested in. You can cross-reference this list against the list of participating schools on the CSS Profile website. In addition, you can contact each school for more information.
Why file the FAFSA if my family’s income exceeds the limit?
It’s a common assumption that if your family’s income is in a high tax bracket, it’s pointless to submit a FAFSA. In actuality, there really is no maximum income limit. It’s true that high-earning families might not qualify for certain financial aid, such as Pell Grants. However, they can still qualify for other sources of financial aid, such as low-interest student loans from the Department of Education. If you neglect to file the FAFSA, you could be leaving money on the table.
Your Guidance Office supports students and their parents by facilitating the college planning and admissions process. It’s ideal to begin this process in middle school, but we also work with families who get started later on. If you’re unsure of how you’re going to pay for your child’s college education or your child needs help getting into the right school, contact us to set up a Student Enrollment interview and find out if college readiness coaching is right for your family.