<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://q.quora.com/_/ad/bdd9d941ae754c498fe2d2326d029ffa/pixel?tag=ViewContent&amp;noscript=1">

Does a 401k Count in the CSS Profile?

Featured Stories

Filter By Categories

Some colleges and universities require that you complete the CSS Profile on top of or instead of the FAFSA. Though much of the information you will need to provide will overlap, the CSS Profile is more comprehensive than the FAFSA and requires extra information like the financial information of noncustodial parents and family retirement plans.

Retirement Plans and the FAFSA

In most cases, do not report the value of your retirement plans on the FAFSA application. Retirement assets that should not be reported as assets are 401k plans, pension funds, annuities, non-education IRAs, and Keogh plans. What you do need to report are any voluntary contributions into or withdrawals from those plans over the year requested on the FAFSA. This is reported as untaxed income in section #94 of the FAFSA.

For more detailed information about reporting retirement assets on the FAFSA, read our article about retirement savings and the FAFSA.


Retirement Plans and the CSS Profile

Unlike on the FAFSA application, the value of retirement plans are included on the CSS Profile. According to the Profile, student and parent retirement plans (IRA, Keogh, 401k, 403b, etc.) are reported as assets for the respective owners. A student-owned retirement plan will be reported in the Student Assets section, SA-105. A parent-owned retirement plan can be reported in either Parent Data section PD-175 or PD-270.

Plans that must be reported are:

  • IRA

  • SRA Keogh

  • SEP

  • 401(a)

  • 401k

  • 403(b)

  • 408

  • 457

  • 501(c)

If you have a retirement plan not included in this list, confirm with College Board if you should record these assets in this section or elsewhere.

Effect of Retirement Plans on EFC

The information provided on the CSS Profile will be reviewed by all the colleges to which you apply. It is at each college’s discretion to decide your aid for that particular school based on the information provided.

Some schools might glance at the value of familial retirement funds, but not consider these numbers when calculating a student’s need-based aid. Others might choose to include these values in their financial aid calculations. The CSS Profile provides detailed financial information to colleges, but it is up to those colleges to decide how to handle that information.

Borrowing from Your 401k

Some parents think about taking loans out of their 401k plans instead of having their kids take out loans. Proceed with caution: By removing money from your 401k, you’re not only limiting the potential growth of the plan, but you are also putting yourself at risk for paying significant extra costs. For one, the money put into your 401k was untaxed and the money you will have to pay it back with will be in post-tax dollars. For another, if you are under 59½ years of age and withdraw funds from your 401k for this purpose, you will be responsible for paying a withdrawal penalty of 10% on the loan amount.

For more information, read Edmit’s article.

Edmit's advice helps you to be better off after graduation.

  • Merit and financial aid estimates based on your student profile
  • Earnings estimates and financial scores for your college and major
  • Recommendations to save thousands on college

Sign up for updates

Popular Tags

Financial Aid and Scholarships* Cost of College* paying for college financial aid FAFSA Student Loans* grants and scholarships federal student loans Saving for College* Salary and Career* college tuition 529 plan cost of attendance expected family contribution private student loans college financial planning financial aid award taxes career college savings plan room and board on-campus housing merit scholarships budgeting for college college expenses federal financial aid merit-based financial aid private universities public universities edmit hidden gems edmit team college costs parent PLUS loan college applications living expenses CSS profile education expenses financial need income application fees career fit choosing a major financial aid appeal off-campus housing choosing a college college majors loan forgiveness affordable college degree programs loan repayment repayment plans researching careers student loan assistance student loan debt work-study application fee waivers career exploration college search coronavirus edmit scholarship institutional aid net price private scholarships SAT career goals college visits in-state tuition prepaid tuition plans ACT budget free tuition international students internships need-based financial aid need-blind colleges qualified higher education expenses retirement savings school-based scholarships southern colleges standardized testing tuition discount tuition guarantee tuition payment plans 401k UGMA UTMA applying to college college financial health college ranking systems college spending college transfers credit score discretionary income distance learning education savings accounts fees financial literacy full ride scholarship gap year grants health insurance options investment ivy league schools liberal arts degree meal plans midwestern colleges need-aware colleges out-of-state tuition saving state aid tuition increases western colleges 568 presidents group Inversant MEFA asset protection allowance best price campus life college advisor college credits college deposit college viability community college concurrent enrollment cost by region cost by state crowdfunding dorms early decision educational expenses esports fee waivers financial wellness for-profit universities fraternities and sororities full tuition graduate school home equity loan income share agreements job applications line of credit lists medical expenses medical school military benefits net price calculators new england colleges non-profit universities online learning online tuition out-of-state students percent need met private college consultant remote learning self-assessment siblings small business state schools student bank accounts student organizations subsidized loans title IV schools travel expenses tuition decreases tuition insurance tuition reciprocity undocumented students unsubsidized loans work-based learning