FAFSA (“Federal”) and CSS PROFILE (“Institutional”)
There are certain adjustments in the EFC calculation process that are treated differently between the two financial aid methodologies.
Below you’ll find a summary of many of the differences within the computation elements of the FAFSA and the CSS PROFILE,.
Elements Federal Institutional Advantage
|Forms Available||January 1||October 1|
|Income – Asset|
|State Tax Allowance||Yes (1)||Yes||Institutional|
|Cost of Living||No||Yes||Institutional|
|Simplified EFC||Yes (3)||No||Federal|
|Automatic EFC Zero||Yes (4)||No||Federal|
|Family Home “Net Worth”|
|Assess. < 100 Employees||No||Yes||Federal|
|Parent Considered||No (6)||Yes||Federal|
|Assessment Rate||20%||25% (Siblings’ Assets < 19 not in college yet)||Federal|
|2 Children in College||50% of EFC ea. Child||60% of EFC/Child||Federal|
|3 Children in College||33% of EFC ea. Child||45% of EFC/Child||Federal|
|4 Children in College||25% of EFC ea. Child||35% of EFC/Child||Federal|
|Student Owned 529||Parent Asset||Student Asset, Siblings < 19 not in college count||Federal|
|Grandparent Owned 529||No||Some schools include with supplemental application|
|Grandparent Distributions||Parent Income||Student Income||Federal|
Footnote Added Clarifications
(1) State Tax Allowance for FAFSA does not count state sales tax and does not recognize income levels. The table is based upon IRS Schedule “A” data. The Profile considers both sales tax and distinguishes among income levels. The source for the data is the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
(2) The FAFSA does not have a separate medical/dental allowance but there is a percentage of allowable out-of-pocket medical expenses calculated in the Income Protection Allowance (“ IPA”). This is important when considering a financial aid appeal based upon out-of-pocket medical costs when FAFSA is in play (federal money in most cases).
(3) Simplified EFC calculation means assets are excluded when certain income tax filing requirements are met and the family income is $49,999 or less.
(4) Automatic EFC Zero occurs when family income is $24,000 or less.
(5) CSS PROFILE assesses family home “net worth” (market value less debt) by multiplying the net worth times a multiple of adjusted gross income. Most schools place a cap on the amount assessed based upon a multiple of income, usually in the range of 1.5 to 3 times. Here are samples below. It is important if you have a large amount of home net worth that you carefully select your Profile schools if you are trying to qualify for need based financial aid.
(6) Federal method definition by statute whereby custodial parent and spouse are responsible for student’s educational expense. Institutional uses option for the non-custodial parent to provide financial information with supplemental form whereby the “biological parents” are responsible for the student’s educational costs.
CSS PROFILE Family Home Net Worth Assessment Samples
School Cap Multiple Times to Income Level
American University 100%
Cornell (All 568 Schools ) 1.2 times
Duke University 1.2 times
Illinois Wesleyan Univ. 2.5-3 times
Princeton, NJ Zero
Vanderbilt, TN 2.5 times
Boston University 2.5 times
Rice University TX 2.5 times
Mass. Institute Technology 100%
Notre Dame Case by Case
Brown University 3 times
Colby ME Case by Case
DePauw IN Zero
Bowdoin ME 1.8 times
Example Bowdoin, Income $100,000, Net Market Value $200,000
Income $100,000times 1.8 = $180,000 assessed @ 5%= $9,000