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Articles / Applying to College / Can Student Keep In-State Residency Once Parents Move Elsewhere?

Can Student Keep In-State Residency Once Parents Move Elsewhere?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 25, 2012

Question: My son is currently a freshman in a Florida state university. I am moving out of state for job purposes and want to know if my son can continue at his school at the in-state tuition rates. He is 18 and has been a dependent on our taxes. My wife will be staying in Florida for an undetermined time so I don't know how this would affect his tuition.

Each state has its own (usually confusing) rules that govern residency for tuition purposes. However, in many cases, when a student graduated from high school in that state and did not relocate to the state in order to attend college, he will qualify for in-state tuition, even if his parents move elsewhere (although sometimes this can require applying for a waiver or doing some other kind of fancy footwork once Mom and Dad blow town).

According to The Florida Residency Guidelines for Tuition Purposes, which were were adopted last updated in October of 2010:

For a dependent child, the legal residence of his/her parents who are domiciled outside this state is not prima facie evidence (i.e., evidence that establishes a fact if uncontested) of the child's legal residence if that child has lived in this state for 5 consecutive years prior to enrolling or reregistering at a higher education institution. [s. 1009.21(4), FS]

So, if your son lived in Florida for 5 years prior to starting college, then it doesn't matter where his parents live now.

If your son did NOT live in Florida for the required 5 years, he is okay at least at present with your wife currently still in Florida, regardless of who claims him on the tax forms. You'll find this on the same list of residency requirements cited above:

The legal residence of a dependent child whose parents are divorced, separated, or otherwise living apart will be considered Florida if either parent is a legal resident of this State – regardless of who claims the dependent individual for federal income tax purposes. [s. 1009.21(2)(c), FS]

(See Florida Shines for more in-state residency guidelines.)

If your son does not meet the 5-year requirement, he will still get a 12-month grace period once your wife leaves Florida. If this does not take him to graduation (because he's just a freshman now), then he can apply for a waiver to maintain his in-state status (or perhaps your family can keep a Florida address for Mom until graduation).

Good luck with the big move. Hope you're not going someplace COLD!

(posted 1/25/2012)

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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