Can I Have In-State Status in Two States?


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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