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The New, Shorter FAFSA

As discussed in our previous blog entry about the upcoming changes to the FAFSA, the form itself will be shorter in length. The current FAFSA is roughly 108 questions, depending on how each is answered the form can be longer or shorter. The new FAFSA, that will become current in the 2023-2024 academic year, will have a maximum of 36 questions.

Less Digging for Taxes

The shortening is possible because now students and parents will not have to reference their taxes via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, plugging in numbers from their filed taxes, instead the filed taxes will be used to draw a financial picture of the Estimated Family Contribution, which is now the Student Aid Index, as one of the determining factors in the amount of aid a student will be eligible to receive.

Reasons for The Changes

The reasoning from lawmakers for the shorter questionnaire is simple—their research tells them that less parents and students apply for college, or are willing to apply, because of the length and breadth of the form. As this does seem to make sense, the changes will begat other changes that are not so cut and dry.

What these changes aim to make possible is a chance of higher education for a broader swath of people across wider socioeconomic backgrounds. Breanna McGurran of Forbes, reported on the changes stating, “as some advocates [for the changes] have argues, low-income families’ ‘expected’ contributions should be below $0 to identify that they are in particular need of assistance to pay for college. In these cases, they could get air that exceeds a school’s cost of attendance, which is calculated by the school itself.”

Income Reporting Changed

The shorter form also changes what is reported to the FAFSA as income. Certain cash support and money paid on a student’s behalf will no longer be reported, this may include when a grandparent give a gift to their grandchild to help them pay for college or when the family takes a qualified distribution from a grandparent-owned 529 college savings plan.

Other types of income that will no longer be reported on the FAFSA include workman’s compensation and veterans’ education benefits. As well, child support received will be reported as an asset on the FAFSA instead of as untaxed income, yielding more favorable treatment.

More Free Time to Apply for Scholarships

The shorter FAFSA will free up students and parents to apply for college scholarships in Western New York as well as give more time to apply for the state-wide excelsior scholarship, which was as well designed to make college affordable for all students. There are many ways to pay for college, and scholarships and grants are a great way to help your student graduate with less or no debt. SYKTC can help with all of your questions and help you better understand and repeal scholarship decisions. We also offer a scholarship of our own, the 2021 Young Achiever's Scholarship!


Taking the step forward to college is difficult, not just for students, but for parents too. There is a juggling act of getting everything ready, making deadlines, filing paperwork, and all of the logistics of moving a student into college. At Send Your Kids To College, trained professionals can help you work throughout the whole process with ease and excitement, rather than rushing through it with anxiety. We can fill out your FAFSA for you and help you understand what expenses you have now and down the road. If you would like to know more, give us a call or leave your information here and we will gladly help you make this next step towards the future.


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