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Articles / Applying to College / Can I Have In-State Status in Two States?

July 8, 2019

Can I Have In-State Status in Two States?

Can I Have In-State Status in Two States?
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I live in New York and go to public school here, but my father's full-time job is in Virginia. He has an apartment there and comes home to New York on the weekends. He pays Virginia state taxes due to his job there. Do I get in-state tuition in both states?

Unfortunately, you can't qualify for in-state tuition in more than one state, and -- because New York is your primary residence, your mother's primary residence and the state where you attend school -- you will not be considered an in-state student at any Virginia public college. But if you long to be a Cavalier or a Hokie (etc.) but not pay full freight for the experience, here's a gambit you can try:


First of all, your father has to be a full-time Virginia resident. This means more than simply working in Virginia, renting an apartment and paying state income tax there. He'll have to list his Virginia mailing address as his primary one on all his official documents (including his US income tax forms) and apply for a Virginia driver's license. In other words, he will need to demonstrate his intention to reside in Virginia permanently. Then you should spend a gap year in Virginia without attending school, and you should list your Virginia address on all official documents and gather as much proof as you can that you intend to stay in Virginia indefinitely (e.g., driver's license, library card, utility bills and rent receipts if you're not living with your dad). Colleges assess residency for students under the age of 24 based on their parents' official residency. So even if you were to live in Virginia for a full calendar year before starting college there, you have to make certain that your dad's residency is clearly in Virginia as well and he has a paper trail to prove that he's abandoned New York entirely (not that anything is on paper anymore)!

Since it's common (and often very beneficial) for a high school senior to take a gap year before starting college, this might be a viable workaround for you, if you decide you want to attend a Virginia public university.

If your father ALREADY lists Virginia as his primary residence on all of his official documents and holds a Virginia driver's license, you can also try petitioning the Virginia institutions you wish to attend for in-state status straight from high school. That's a long-shot and probably won't work, but it might be worth a try if your father's documentation makes him appear to be a full-time Virginia resident now.

Good luck as you navigate the red tape ahead!

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Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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