State Residency Requirements

Question: I am currently an undergraduate student, and I plan to go on to graduate school–most likely in the state where I attend school now, which is not the state in which I have a permanent address. However, by the time I apply for graduate school, I will have lived in off-campus housing for two years. Can I thus claim residency for tuition purposes for grad school? Where does one find state residency rules?

Here are a couple easy approaches:

1. Go to this site maintained by the College Board and click on the name of the appropriate state:

2. If the information you find, above, isn’t clear, simply call the graduate admission office at any major public university in the state where you now attend college and ask about their residency requirements. (It should be consistent at all public schools in that state.)

Policies, however, can vary from state to state. Some are quite straightforward and demand only a year of residency in order to qualify for in-state tuition. However, you will commonly find that if your permanent residence is elsewhere (as in your case) and you reside in your current state primarily to attend school (even if you live off-campus) then you will not qualify as a state resident.

Some states (e.g., North Carolina) are very particular about your intentions. That is, they don’t just base their determinations on how long you have lived in NC, but they want evidence of long-term commitment. Perhaps painting your face blue and running around town screaming, “Go Tarheels” that might help. 🙂 To read more about this sort of subjective policy, go to:

Some students in your situation decide to take a break from school after earning a bachelor’s degree. By remaining in the state where they earned their degree and working for a year, they often can then begin grad school the following year and pay in-state tuition. But again, policies do differ, so check carefully.