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How to get a CSS Profile fee waiver

Even if you don't meet the College Board's requirements, you could qualify through your school.

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Unlike the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile is not always free. It’ll set you back at least $41 if you only send it to one school. However, you might be able to qualify for a fee waiver through the College Board or your school.

Am I eligible for a CSS Profile fee waiver?

All students must meet two criteria to be considered for an automatic fee waiver from the College Board:

  • First-year undergraduate student
  • Parents live in the US

In addition to this, one of the following statements must apply to you:

  • You received an SAT fee waiver
  • Your parents earn an income equivalent to $45,000 or less for a family of four
  • You’re under 24 years old and an orphan or ward of the court

Qualifying through your school

If you can’t meet these requirements, you might be able to qualify for a fee waiver through your school. Some universities have separate fee waiver applications that international students or those with higher family incomes can qualify for. Reach out to your school’s financial aid office to find out if this is an option for you.

How do I get a fee waiver?

Follow these steps to get your CSS Profile fee waived:

Step 1: Check your eligibility.

If you think you can meet the College Board’s requirements, you can get started with your application right away. You’ll receive your fee waiver at the end of the application. Otherwise, you might want to check with your school to see if it offers a fee waiver you can qualify for.

Step 2: Fill out a fee-waiver request form with your school, if applicable.

Can’t qualify through the College Board, but can through your school? Reach out to the financial aid office to find out how the fee waiver process works. You might have to fill out an application and receive a code that you can enter into your CSS Profile during the payment section.

Step 3: Complete the CSS Profile.

Have your school’s fee waiver code on hand when you complete the application, if applicable. If you aren’t asked to enter your debit or credit card information at the end of the application, you automatically qualify for a waiver through the College Board and don’t have to do anything else. Otherwise, submit the fee waiver code from your school.

If the code doesn’t appear to work or you believe you should have automatically qualified, reach out to the CSS Profile support team. You can do so from the US and Canada through live chat on the College Board website or by calling 844-202-0524. International students currently living abroad can get help by submitting an online form or calling 212-299-0096.

How do fee waivers work for divorced parents?

If your parents are divorced or separated, both of your parents might be required to fill out the CSS Profile separately — it varies by school. If this is the case, these are treated like two separate applications — with two sets of fees. But if one or both of your parents meet the income requirements for the fee waiver, you might only have to pay the fee on one application or not at all.

What costs does the fee waiver cover?

The fee waiver covers all costs associated with submitting the CSS Profile:

  • Application fee. You won’t have to pay the $25 fee to submit the application.
  • Reporting fees. You also won’t have to pay the $16 fee for every school or scholarship program you want your application sent to.

How much could I save?

It depends on how many schools you apply to — the more schools, the higher the savings. The minimum amount you’ll save is $41. But if you send your application to 10 schools, those savings reach $185.

Bottom line

Costs like the CSS Profile fees are part of the reason why it’s so expensive to apply to college. But you might not have to pay them if you qualify through the College Board or your school.

You can learn more about how paying for college works by checking out our guide to student loans.

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