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Articles / Applying to College / State Residency Requirements

State Residency Requirements

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | March 28, 2004

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 the "In-State Angels" Web site and click on the name of the appropriate state:


This helpful site tells you not only what each state's requirements are but also an assessment of how tough it may be to meet these requirements.

2. Note, however, that the information you'll find at the site above is subject to change, so you should also check with every university on your list to ask for their specific expectations. Note that, while you would expect the residency rules to be consistent at every public institution in the same state, this isn't always true. So if you are considering more than one college, you need to contact each school individually.

Policies will 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.

Many states will consider students under the age of 24 to reside in the same state as their parents, even if they haven't actually lived under the same roof for years In some states, that cut-off is 22, and in others, if you can prove that you are self-supporting, the age requirement will be waived.

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. :-)

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.

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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