Student Financial Aid-Comparing CSS and FAFSA

Every student that is applying for financial aid to get higher education in any field normally comes across two main source of financial aid the private and the federal aid. The federal financial aid is administered by FAFSA and most of the private aid available to students is administered through CSS college profile program. I will compare and explain both programs to help students understand the differences between the two.

The CSS College Profile

The College Board, a not for profit organization, is aimed at assisting students in entering college. It comprises of 5,400 colleges, universities and professional schools all over America.

The College Board administers the online CSS / Financial Aid PROFILE application. So far, 600 member schools of the College Board have also become members of this aid application program. The member institutes adopt the common criterion for student financial aid at different levels set out by the College Board. This application program makes the aid application process convenient because they can apply for almost all the non federal aid programs given out by colleges in one place; however individual colleges set their own deadlines and award dates for scholarships.

The CSS college profile use bases different from FAFSA to evaluate your need of financial aid, for example the FAFSSA does not consider the assets of your siblings to evaluate the money available to you. The CSS charges a fee of $25 for sending your students financial aid application to one school, additional $16 is charged for sending application to each additional school.


The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is an application program run by the federal aid office of the U.S department of education. This online application provides the facility to students to apply at one place for several federal aid programs offered by the government, such as Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and work-study programs.

If a student is eligible for financial aid offered by these federal programs the aid is provided to the educational institution student is enrolled in. This aid normally covers considerable part of tuition and living costs. The need for student financial aid is determined by evaluating how much part of the cost can be contributed by the student’s family.

Most of accredited colleges and universities in The U.S have right to administer federal student aid. The application for federal financial aid can be made online on the website of FAFSA. There is no fee for the application.