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Difference between FAFSA and CSS PROFILE

caregiver1127's picture

I saw a blog on the board today about FAFSA for the stepkids.

I am going through all of this right now - in fact I just filled out the CSS PROFILE last week. If you are a bio family then the FAFSA is filled out. If your are a blended family then the parent that the child lives with the majority of the time is the one who fills out FAFSA. What was happening a few years ago is that they were catching families who had children living with the parent who had more income but when it came time to file they were having the other parent who was not as wealthy filling out the FAFSA which in essence cheating the government. So now you have to prove which parent you live with. - this is the list that the CollegeBoard posts that tells you which colleges and universities require the CSS Profile to be filled out by the non-custodial parent and their spouse. Of course I had to make sure that SS and BM could not find out our information and they make it very clear on the website that the ex-spouse and child could not see what we sent in. There are also deadlines to send in the CSS and FAFSA information. Of course our BM gave us 8 hours to do it - which was a pain in the ass because they wanted 2010, 2011 and what you think you are going to make in 2012. And they want all of your info - it is like someone said they want to see how much you could provide for your child for college. I don't think this is a very fair way to do it because my SS refuses to work and try and get any money for college and of course he and his mother have picked out a $58,000 a year school yes you read that correctly - $58,000 a year.

I did call up the school to make sure that the deadline had been extended and was told yes it had. I then asked her if by filling out the CSS Profile that this is probably hurting SS's chance to get any financial help and she said yes it probably is - our BM just thought that DH was going to fork over half of the money or co-sign on all of the student loans but of course he had no say in where SS would go. Thankfully he told her go jump in the lake and as I wrote before she tried to get a student loan in his name and since I have the alerts on all of the credit bureaus we cut her off with that one. But that is a whole different blog.

SS is not really allowed to tell us anything about his life - his mother is dating a very very wealthy man and has told SS if he talks about his life with her then he won't get the money she gives him all the time. So I thought it was funny the SS volunteered the information to my DH last week but then after getting the CSS Profile request from BM we realized the only reason we even know where he is going is because she needed us to fill out this form. I don't know where they are going to come up with over $50,000 every year but it won't be from DH and I. I truly fear for my SS when he gets out of school because his mother is pushing him to go to this school so I hope she is totally prepared to help him pay the student loans he will have to pay off for the next 25 years. All the articles and financial advisors are warning families that if you are not wealthy enough to afford one of these very expensive schools then you should not even try attending. The other scary part is that this school says that the tuition rises 4 1/2 percent every year - that is more than what most people get in raises from their companies. So I hope that SS's mother has a way to pay for this up front because if not SS will be in big trouble. I have already told DH that SS will not be living with us if he gets out of school and does not want to work and his mother as I know she will tell him she did her job raising him and now he is on his own.


caregiver1127's picture

Of course you have a say but if you don't fill it out then the child is not eligible for any financial aid the college may be giving out. You can still get student loans but your child would miss out on any free money the college might give to them. And they are very careful to keep your information for your eyes only - the CollegeBoard assures you that your ex will not see what you make. Here is their spiel about security:

The College Board considers security and confidentiality one of its highest priorities.

Below you will find a description of the security measures used with the Noncustodial PROFILE as well as information about data encryption, one of the most effective methods used to protect electronic information.

Q. How does the College Board protect my information?

A. Your information is protected by three independent security measures: data encryption, a secure server with firewall protection, and a private password you set.

You must enter your child's CSS ID and your private password to sign in to your application. We will not send your application to your computer unless you have correctly entered both your child's CSS ID and your password.
All information that passes between the College Board and your computer including your application information and credit card, debit card, or checking account number, is encrypted using a sophisticated encoding system.
Your information will be stored on a secure server, protected by a firewall.
Your information will be communicated only to the financial aid office(s) at college(s) and program(s) your child requested on the PROFILE.

Q. What is encryption?

A. Encryption technology permits data to remain secure while being transmitted along the Internet by encoding the information using a mathematical formula that jumbles the data. Without a corresponding "decoder," the transmitted information would remain scrambled and be unusable. Your Noncustodial PROFILE data, including your credit card or checking account information, is protected during transit through the Internet by encryption. If your browser is configured correctly, encryption is done automatically by your Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer browser when you connect to Noncustodial PROFILE Online.

The Noncustodial PROFILE Online requires 128-bit encryption. If you reside in the United States or Canada, you can choose the level of encryption you use when you choose your browser version. Encryption strength is measured by the length of its "key," which is expressed in bits. The larger the key, the greater the strength of the encryption. A graduate student decrypted one 40-bit encrypted message in a little over 7 days. He used 112 computers. In contrast, data encrypted with a 128-bit key is approximately 309,485,009,821,345,068,724,781,056 times stronger than data encrypted with a 40-bit key.

Q. How does encryption work?

A. Encryption involves the transmission of information from one party to another. The sender scrambles (encodes) the data, then sends it on. The receiver must unscramble (decode) the data with the correct "decoder" in order to read it. The Noncustodial PROFILE uses the highest level of encryption available in the international versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

Q. Is the Noncustodial PROFILE Online a "Verisign Secure Site"?

A. Yes! Double click on the lock at the bottom right of any page to get more information.

Q. Is there anything I can do to better ensure my Noncustodial PROFILE data remains secure?

A. For added security, especially if you are completing the Noncustodial PROFILE on a public computer, we suggest that you completely close your browser when you sign out of the Noncustodial PROFILE. If you leave the browser open, it may be possible for someone to access your information that was temporarily stored in the computer's memory. Closing the browser will clear the information from the computer's memory.

You may also wish to clear the computer's cache, or temporary files. To do so, follow the instructions for your browser below:

For Internet Explorer:

Select Tools, click Internet Options, then open the General tab.
In the Browsing History section click the "Delete..." button. Under History click "Delete History..."
For Netscape:

Select Edit then Preferences.
Select Advanced then Cache.
Click the Clear Cache button.

caregiver1127's picture

I know that is why I put the link for the schools that require CSS Profile - lucky for me SS is going to one of those schools.