What Law Governs In-State Tuition?

Question: What law says you have to be a state resident to receive In-State tuition? An example of any state works. (For High School Debate)

In-state tuition practices are set by the board of higher education in each state, and I would call these “regulations" or—better yet—“policies" rather than “laws." They can vary a lot from state to state ... not only in how they appear in writing but also in how they are interpreted and enforced. (You will sometimes even see variations among public institutions in the same state!)

One of the reasons that the policies can seem so inconsistent is that often a student's petition for residency (and thus for in-state tuition) is evaluated based on that student's perceived commitment to the state (e.g., “Is this kid a Tar Heel down to his core or just wearing the Carolina Blue face paint for now?) As you can imagine, decisions like these can be quite subjective.

In addition, some states have teamed up with neighbors to treat all students in the member states as “residents," regardless of where they actually reside. You'll also see that some public colleges promise in-state tuition to non-residents as a form of “merit aid."

So the whole residency issue is a very confusing one and, if you and your fellow debaters intend to tackle it, you will have your work cut out for you!

This Web site can help you see the different policies across the U.S. along with estimates of how tough it is in each state to wangle residency :

Hope that helps and good luck on your debate!