After you submit your FAFSA, your EFC is calculated by the Department of Education based on a standardized federal methodology and sent out to each college you listed. Your EFC is the federal government’s recommendation to each college of what you can afford to pay for a year of college. Then each college uses that recommendation to determine the amount of aid to award. This calculation is published online each year, while complicated; it is possible to determine what your exact EFC will be.

The CSS Profile is submitted through College Board and the information you submit is sent to each college listed on the application. Then each college processes the information using their own calculation to determine what they think your family can afford to pay for a year of college. While the calculations of multiple colleges may be similar, College Board cannot give you one number, like the FAFSA, because they do not process the calculation. Each college has their own methodology; for example, some will use the equity in your home as a personal asset and another will not, some will use your business assets against you and another may not. Individual colleges do not publish their calculations so it is difficult to plan for financial aid at each college, but not impossible.

It is important to take all financial factors into consideration when planning if your student will apply to a college that requires the CSS Profile for financial aid. If you have questions about how your need will be calculated, if the CSS Profile will be required for your student or what financial factors to consider, call our office at 866-305-2321. We are happy to answer the questions you have.

Do you have a general question about financial aid? Send an email to; you may see the answer in our Financial Aid Question of the Month series!