Can I Pay In-State Tuition After One Year in Another State?

Question: I'm about to be a high school senior and would like to go to a public university in a state far from home, but paying out-of-state tuition won't be affordable for me. I've heard that, in most places, you only have to live in a state for one year in order to apply for residency. So, if I pay the out-of-state costs for my first year and then stay in that state all summer to work (so I will have been there for a full year when school starts again), can I qualify as a resident in my sophomore year? Or what if I take a gap year and then start as a freshman the following fall? Can I earn state residency if I have lived in the state of my college for my gap year? Thank you!

Sadly, the answers are “No" and “No." (Not what you wanted to hear, eh?) Although many states do award residency to those who have lived there for just 12 consecutive months (and who can prove this residency ... and the intent to remain ... via various types of documentation), the 12-month rule does not apply to students who have moved to the state for the primary purpose of attending college. So that's the first “No." In other words, if you show up as a freshman next fall and stay through the summer, the main reason behind your relocation was your matriculation, so you won't qualify as an in-state resident.

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