Out-of-State Community College for Employee's Daughter?

Question: If my daughter's father works at a community college in another state can, can she still go there if she has not been a dependent of his?

It’s always possible for your daughter (or anyone) to attend a community college in another state, whether there are ties to employees at the school or not. But the big question for you is probably, “Can she pay in-state tuition if her dad is an in-state resident and employee?” Well, these are actually two different questions.

In some states, your daughter may be eligible for in-state tuition if one parent is a legal resident of that state. But, in many states, if your daughter has not, herself, been a legal resident for at least a year, she will not qualify. When you say that your daughter has “not been a dependent of his,” I assume that you mean that her dad has not declared her on his tax forms or paid any child support. If this is the case, it may affect your daughter’s ability to pay in-state tuition in those states that might otherwise allow it.

A second issue is the fact that your daughter’s dad is an employee at the community college. Many colleges offer tuition benefits (sometimes even free tuition) to the children of staff members. If this benefit is offered to your daughter’s father, she may be able to take advantage of it, regardless of her state of residency. However, she will need proof that he is her parent. The most obvious way to provide this proof is through tax records or child-support records. If she has neither, then a birth certificate might work, but you could be navigating some murky waters here, and you will have to be extra persistent to get the tuition discount. Of course, if you are successful, it will be well worth your persistence.

In any case, your daughter can certainly attend the CC in another state, but the cost of her attendance could be greatly affected by the circumstances discussed above.

(posted 11/27/2010)