CSS Profile Tips

‘Tis the financial aid application season, so guest host Sally Ganga kicked off last week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation with some tips on completing the CSS Profile form.  She also talked with her guests about how to choose a college major and offered advice to students answering the Lehigh University supplemental essay prompts.

Tips for Completing the CSS Profile

College finance expert Jeanne Mahan was on hand to review the CSS Profile, a financial aid application that is required by roughly 200 (mostly private) institutions in addition to the FAFSA form. The schools that require the CSS Profile use it to award their need-based institutional funds, and while it is a much longer form (the FAFSA has a mere 105 questions compared to over 300 on the CSS Profile!), Jeanne stressed that the colleges use the information to do a much more thorough and equitable calculation of a family’s financial need. After a summary of the differences between the CSS Profile and the FAFSA, Jeanne and Sally concluded with a conversation about the question that most often stumps the parent completing the form: “How much do you plan to contribute to this student’s education?” Tune in to find out the answer!

How to Choose a College Major

Sally’s next guest was college admissions expert Julia Jones, who offered great advice about how to choose a college major.  Julia and Sally reassured parents of high schoolers that it is OK if your student has not yet locked into a major, and explained that courses taken in high school and college can help students figure out their talents, interests, and passions. Julia encouraged students to explore what they like to do, and reminded us that, with the exception of professional majors like engineering and nursing, what a student majors in may not correlate to a particular career. She and Sally advised students who are exploring majors to be willing to try different kinds of classes in the first two years of college, and when researching particular careers, don’t forget to ask people what their major was in college—you might be surprised!

Answering Lehigh’s Supplemental Essay Prompts

Finally, Sally’s last guest was college admissions expert Lauren Randle, who helped Sally tackle the Lehigh University supplemental essay prompts:

  • What about Lehigh piques your intellectual curiosity?
  • What does the idea of the “Lehigh Family” mean to you?
  • Lehigh values inclusive leadership, where students make decisions, take action, and contribute positively to their communities in ways that are purposeful, socially just, and built on integrity. What does this mean to you?

While each question has its own unique challenges, all of them require you to research Lehigh extensively, and to imagine yourself as a Lehigh student.  And remember, no matter which option you choose, you are trying to convey who you are, and why Lehigh is a good fit for you. Pick the question you most want to answer, and then tune in for some specific advice on how to successfully address it.

Don’t forget to listen to the next episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, when host Beth Heaton returns to talk with her guests about honors colleges, the supplemental essay questions for Tufts University, and what happens after you have filed the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.


Written by College Coach
College Coach® is the nation’s leading provider of educational advising, offering expert guidance from the best college admissions consultants on the college admissions and finance process. Our goal is to help each student maximize his or her chances of success through services focused on their personal desires, goals, individual strengths, and accomplishments.