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The CSS Profile deadline isn’t the same for each school. If you’re applying to multiple schools, submit the application no later than two weeks before the earliest deadline.
For the 2020-21 school year, the opening date for the CSS Profile was Oct. 1, 2019 — the same day as the other, more widely used financial aid application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Unlike the FAFSA, which has a deadline of June 30, 2021, for the 2020-21 school year, the CSS Profile deadline varies. Most schools’ deadlines are between Jan. 1 and March 31.
» MORE: Your guide to financial aid
A good rule of thumb is to apply as close to the opening date as possible. You can also check with each school’s website to find out the earliest priority filing date, which will show how much time you have to submit your application.
If you want your CSS Profile results sent to additional schools, make sure they will receive it before the priority filing date. You can add a college at any time for $16 per school by signing in to your dashboard on the CSS Profile site.
Plan to submit the CSS Profile each year you plan to attend a school that accepts the application.
Moves to make
Submit the FAFSA. The FAFSA qualifies you for federal financial aid, including federal student loans. It should be your first stop before submitting the CSS Profile, which is required by certain schools for state or institutional aid.
Track colleges’ financial aid deadlines. Find and write down all of the earliest financial aid deadlines at the schools you’re applying to so you know when to submit the CSS Profile.
Set a reminder for the Oct. 1 deadline. It’s the earliest you can submit the CSS Profile, as well as the FAFSA. Submit the applications as close to this date as possible so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Watch for your financial aid award letter, which details how much state and institutional aid you qualify for.
» MORE: How to get more financial aid
After you know all the free aid available to you and if you need to borrow money to fill a payment gap, start with federal loans before turning to private borrowing. Federal loans offer lower interest rates than private loans along with more repayment options and forgiveness opportunities. Use a student loan affordability calculator to see how much you should borrow.