FAFSA & CSS Profile: Federal & Institutional Need-Based Aid

It is the policy of Franklin & Marshall College to expect information and financial support from both biological/adoptive parents of students applying to F&M for financial aid. Parents who live in the same household, regardless of legal status, or who reside separately for employment purposes only, are not considered separated, and information for both parents must be reported on the CSS Profile and the FAFSA.


FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Determines your eligibility for need-based federal and state grants, low interest federal student loans, and federal work-study.  This includes the Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, Federal Direct Student Loan (subsidized and unsubsidized) and Federal Work-Study.


CSS Profile

Determines eligibility for F&M’s need-based grants, scholarships and loan. Students who receive F&M’s need-based aid in their first year are normally guaranteed aid renewal for the next three (3) years, not to exceed a total of eight (8) semesters. Students must be enrolled full-time, be in good academic standing, and demonstrate eligibility by filing the CSS Profile every academic year.

Students With Divorced/Separated Parents

Franklin & Marshall College  recognizes that parents do not end their relationship with their children when they divorce/separate and that all parents have a responsibility to provide for their children. We do not think it is fair to ask students who have two married parents to pay more for college than students with two parents who are not married to each other.

If the student’s biological/adoptive parents do not share the same household, both the student's biological/adoptive parent(s) will complete their own CSS Profile application. Each parent will access their CSS Profile with different College Board log-in credentials. To maintain confidentiality, the student and the custodial parent will need to ensure that the noncustodial parent does not know the student’s College Board account password.

  • It is highly recommended that the student and the custodial parent start the CSS Profile application first. Although the noncustodial parent can start the application at any time, the noncustodial parent will not be able to complete the application until the student selects a college that requires the CSS Profile from the noncustodial parent.
  • If the custodial parent has remarried, information will be provided about the custodial parent AND the stepparent, even if they were not married to them in the previous year.
  • If the noncustodial parent has remarried, information will be provided about the noncustodial parent AND the noncustodial parent's spouse, even if they were not married to them in the previous year. 
    • The noncustodial parent will need to create a College Board account before providing their information.
    • The student’s noncustodial parent pays a $25 fee for the CSS Profile application. A fee waiver may be granted by the College Board based on the information entered on the noncustodial parent’s application for low-income parents.


The Office of Financial Aid is careful to safeguard the privacy of all families and will not allow one parent to see the information submitted by the other. All education records, including financial aid applications and supporting documentation, are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Families need to remember that both the federal government and Franklin & Marshall College consider it the family’s primary responsibility to pay for their child’s education and will not determine financial aid eligibility until we have assessed the family’s ability to pay.