In-State Tuition After One Year in New State?

Question: I'm a high school senior who will be moving from Taiwan to attend Colorado State University. I have US citizenship, but neither my parents nor I have Colorado residency. If I stay in Colorado for one full year, will I be allowed to pay in-state tuition for the next three years of university?

In-state tuition rules vary a bit from state to state (and sometimes even from college to college within the same state!), so many folks feel like they need a college degree just to decipher the confusing regulations. But one rule that’s pretty consistent is this:

Although states will typically grant residency to those who have lived there for twelve consecutive months, if you’re moving to a new state for the express purpose of enrolling in a college or university, you will NOT be considered a state resident after you’ve been in school for a year ... or at any time during your college career there.

In order to sidestep this rule, some students will relocate to a new state, spend a year working (and paying rent or a mortgage, obtaining a driver’s license, etc.) to establish residency, and will then enroll in school only after the one-year waiting period is over. BUT ... this little gambit will not work for you since you’re a senior in high school and not an older, “non-traditional” student. In Colorado, you must be at least 22 to establish residency independently. Otherwise, your permanent residence is considered to be where your parents live (even if you pay all your own expenses and they don’t claim you on their taxes). In some states, that age is as high as 24. This requirement keeps recent high school grads from taking a “gap year” in the state where they plan to go to college and then matriculating at the in-state cost.

If your parents are planning to move to Colorado with you in the fall, then you would be able to pay in-state tuition after the first year at CSU, but I don’t think that you’ll be bringing them along, right? So, unfortunately, you will not qualify for in-state tuition in Colorado.  However, if you’re hoping to find a way to keep your costs down, you can apply to be a resident assistant in the CSU dorms after you’ve lived on campus for two semesters and have met certain other terms. CSU RA’s receive a free single room, all meals and a small stipend. So check out the requirements and application process here, if you’re interested, so that you can position yourself to be selected when the time comes.

Hope that helps, and good luck as you make the big move.