Residence Status for Tuition Purposes

The basis for determining tuition charge is whether a student is a resident or a non-resident for tuition purposes. Initial classification as either a resident or non-resident for tuition purpose is based on information provided on the application for admission. If a student chooses to petition a reclassification of his or her residence status for tuition purposes they must complete and submit the Residence and Tuition Status Application along with all required supporting documentation to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions no later than 10th day of the term for which they wish to be considered.

Residency decisions are based on North Carolina statutes (G.S. 116-143.1).  The residency classification officer reviews each application on an individual basis using the guidelines provided within these statutes.  Additional information regarding residency may be found in the North Carolina State Residence Classification Manual available at http://www.northcarolina.edu/legal/residence/committee/manual/Residence_Manual_Aug_2010.pdf.

Residence and domicile. To qualify as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must become a legal resident and remain a legal resident for at least twelve months (exactly 365 days) immediately prior to classification. Thus, there is a distinction between legal residence and residence for tuition purposes. Furthermore, twelve months’ (exactly 365 days) legal residence means more than simple abode in North Carolina. In particular, it means maintaining a domicile (permanent home of indefinite duration) as opposed to “maintaining a mere temporary residence or abode incident to enrollment in an institution of higher education.” The burden of establishing facts which justify classification of a student as a resident entitled to in-state tuition rates is on the applicant for such classification, who must show his or her entitlement by the preponderance (the greater part) of the residentiary information.

Initiative. Being classified a resident for tuition purposes is contingent on the student’s seeking such status and providing all information that the institution may require in making the determination.

Parents’ Domicile. If an individual, irrespective of age, has living parent(s) or court-appointed guardian of the person, the domicile of such parent(s) or guardian is, prima facie, the domicile of the individual; but this prima facie evidence of the individual’s domicile may or may not be sustained by other information. Further, non-domiciliary status of parents is not deemed prima facie evidence of the applicant child’s status if the applicant has lived (though not necessarily legally resided) in North Carolina for the five years preceding enrollment or re-registration.

Effect of marriage. Marriage alone does not prevent a person from becoming or continuing to be a resident for tuition purposes, nor does marriage in any circumstance insure that a person will become or continue to be a resident for tuition purposes. Marriage and the legal residence of one’s spouse are, however, relevant information in determining residentiary intent. Furthermore, if both a husband and his wife are legal residents of North Carolina and if one of them has been a legal resident longer than the other, then the longer duration may be claimed by either spouse in meeting the twelve-month requirement for in-state tuition status.

Military Personnel. A North Carolinian who serves outside the State in the armed forces does not lose North Carolina domicile simply by reason of such service. And students from the military may prove retention or establishment of residence by reference, as in other cases, to residentiary acts accompanied by residentiary intent.

In addition, a separate North Carolina statute affords tuition rate benefits to certain military personnel and their dependents even though not qualifying for the in-state tuition rate by reason of twelve months’ legal residence in North Carolina. Members of the armed services, while stationed in and concurrently living in North Carolina, may be charged a tuition rate lower than the out-of-state tuition rate to the extent that the total of entitlements for applicable tuition costs available from the federal government, plus certain amounts based under a statutory formula upon the in-state tuition rate, is a sum less than the out-of-state tuition rate for the pertinent enrollment. A dependent relative of a service member stationed in North Carolina is eligible to be charged the in-state tuition rate while the dependent relative is living in North Carolina with the service member and if the dependent relative has met any requirement of the Selective Service System applicable to the dependent relative. These tuition benefits may be enjoyed only if the applicable requirements for admission have been met; these benefits alone do not provide the basis for receiving those derivative benefits under the provisions of the residence classification statute reviewed elsewhere in this summary.

Grace Period. If a person (1) has been a bona fide legal resident, (2) has consequently been classified a resident for tuition purposes, and (3) has subsequently lost North Carolina legal residence while enrolled at a public institution of higher education, that person may continue to enjoy the in-state tuition rate for a grace period of twelve months measured from the date on which North Carolina legal residence was lost. If the twelve months end during an academic term for which the person is enrolled at a State institution of higher education, the grace period extends, in addition, to the end of that term. The fact of marriage to one who continues domiciled outside North Carolina does not by itself cause loss of legal residence marking the beginning of the grace period.

Minors. Minors (persons under 18 years of age) usually have the domicile of their parents, but certain special cases are recognized by the residence classification statute in determining residence for tuition purposes.

(a) If a minor’s parents live apart, the minor’s domicile is deemed to be North Carolina for the time period(s) that either parent, as a North Carolina legal resident, may claim and does claim the minor as a tax dependent, even if other law or judicial act assigns the minor’s domicile outside North Carolina. A minor thus deemed to be a legal resident will not, upon achieving majority before enrolling at an institution of higher education, lose North Carolina legal residence if that person (1) upon becoming an adult “acts, to the extent that the person’s degree of actual emancipation permits, in a manner consistent with bona fide legal residence in North Carolina” and (2) “begins enrollment at an institution of higher education not later than the Fall academic term following completion of education prerequisite to admission at such institution.”

(b) If a minor has lived for five or more consecutive years with relatives (other than parents) who are domiciled in North Carolina and if the relatives have functioned during this time as if they were personal guardians, the minor will be deemed a resident for tuition purposes for an enrolled term commencing immediately after at least five years in which these circumstances have existed. If under this consideration a minor is deemed to be a resident for tuition purposes immediately prior to his or her eighteenth birthday, that person on achieving majority will be deemed a legal resident of North Carolina of at least twelve months’ duration. This provision acts to confer in-state tuition status even in the face of other provisions of law to the contrary; however, a person deemed a resident of twelve months duration pursuant to this provision continues to be a legal resident of the State only so long as he or she does not abandon North Carolina domicile.

Lost but Regained Domicile. If a student ceases enrollment at or graduates from an institution of higher education while classified a resident for tuition purposes, and then both abandons and reacquires North Carolina domicile within a 12-month period, that person, if he or she continues to maintain the reacquired domicile into re-enrollment at an institution of higher education, may re-enroll at the in-state tuition rate without having to meet the usual twelve-month durational requirement. However, any one person may receive the benefit of the provision only once.

Change of Status. A student admitted to initial enrollment in an institution (or permitted to re-enroll following an absence from the institutional program which involved a formal withdrawal from enrollment) must be classified by the admitting institution either as a resident or as a nonresident for tuition purposes prior to actual enrollment. A residence status classification once assigned (and finalized pursuant to any appeal properly taken) may be changed thereafter (with corresponding change in billing rates) only at intervals corresponding with the established primary divisions of the academic year.

Transfer Students. When a student transfers from one North Carolina public institution of higher education to another, he/she is treated as a new student by the institution to which he/she is transferring and must be assigned an initial residence status classification for tuition purposes.

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