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FAFSA & CSS Profile

FAFSA is the Fee Application for Federal Student Aid.  If you want financial aid from a college/university you MUST submit a FAFSA. The only way to qualify for a Cal Grant is by submitting your FAFSA. 


FAFSA4caster is a free financial aid calculator that gives you an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid. This information helps families plan ahead for college. You must use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to apply for aid once you’ve decided to apply for admission and attend college.


BLOG post:  12 Common FAFSA Mistakes


FAFSA flowchart

CSS Profile  is often required for students who are applying to private colleges where they are looking to qualify for Non-Federal Financial Aid.  International Students might need to fill out the CSS Profile depending on the schools they are appying to. The CSS Profile is NOT free.  Fee Waivers are available through the Collegeboard.   If you qualified for a fee waiver for the SAT or ACT then you will be able to get a Fee Waiver for the CSS Profile.


The CSS Profile ask for two years of financial information. 


Gather the information below before filling out the Application:

  • 2015 federal income tax return(s)
  • W-2 forms and other records of money earned in 2015 and 2016
  • Records of untaxed income and benefits for 2015 and 2016
  • Current bank statements
  • Current mortgage information
  • Records of savings, stocks, bonds, trusts, and other investments
  • Your noncustodial parent's email address, if applicable.

If a tax return was not filed: Even if you did not file an income tax return for 2015, it will be necessary to report any earnings for the year. Also, records documenting the income reported on the PROFILE will very likely be needed by your colleges and programs.