Graduate School

State Residency Requirements

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.