Residency FAQs

What are the requirements for North Carolina in-state residency for tuition purposes?

This benefit provided by the citizen taxpayers of North Carolina is afforded to residents of the State in anticipation of present and future benefit to the State. Under North Carolina law, to qualify for in-state tuition for a given term, you must prove that you established your legal residence in NC 12 months prior to the start of the term, that you have maintained your legal residence in NC for at least 12 continuous months, and that you are here for a purpose other than school.

Is there a difference between a legal resident of NC and a legal resident for tuition purposes?

Yes. A legal resident is someone who comes to North Carolina and has physical presence for at least one day, with the intent on making NC a permanent home indefinitely. Legal residents typically demonstrate this intent by doing various overt residency acts such as acquiring a driver's license, changing car registration, registering to vote, acquiring real property, employment and paying taxes to NC as a resident, etc.

A legal resident for tuition purposes is someone who has demonstrated that he or she has been a North Carolina legal resident for at least the twelve consecutive months immediately preceding the school term for which he or she is requesting classification of residency for tuition purposes.

If I think I qualify, how do I apply?

All students seeking a residency review must complete a Residence and Tuition Status Application and provide any additional supplemental forms and supporting documentation that may be required. In order to request a review of one's residency status for a particular semester, the application must be submitted to the Residency Determination Office no later than the late registration payment due date for that semester. The application filing deadlines can be found on the residency homepage.

How is my residency application processed?

Applications are processed in the date order that they are received. It may take 3-5 business days for your application to be reviewed. If additional documentation is needed, you will be notified of the need to supply additional information. All of the information and documentation that you provide is reviewed. You will be notified of the decision by a letter mailed to your permanent address.

Do I REALLY need to submit all of the documentation required as listed on the application?

Yes. Providing the documents will assist the classifier in reviewing your application while applying the requirements of North Carolina residency law. If there are any documents required that you cannot provide, you should provide a written explanation as to why you cannot do so.

If I provide all of the supporting documents will I be approved for residency?

Not necessarily. Providing the documents assists the classifier in reviewing your application while applying the requirements of North Carolina residency law. No one is guaranteed a favorable decision.

I read that residency decisions are based on a "preponderance of evidence." What does this mean?

This refers to a cluster of significant events demonstrating domicile (physical presence and intent) to establish legal residence. North Carolina is not a checklist state, which means that North Carolina residency for tuition purposes is not based on performing a specific set of acts. All of the information you provide on your application and through your supporting documentation is taken into consideration and is used to determine whether a preponderance (or greater weight) of evidence supports the establishment of North Carolina domicile at least 12 months prior to the beginning of the term.

What do I need to know about residency and my tuition payment?

Students who apply for residency are not guaranteed a favorable decision. As a result, students should be prepared to pay the out-of-state tuition rate and to make the necessary payment arrangements prior to the bill payment deadline. If you are approved, your tuition charges will be adjusted to reflect the in-state tuition rate.

I am married. Are there any special provisions for married students?

A person does not automatically obtain North Carolina residency solely by marrying a North Carolina resident. However, if both student and spouse have established domicile in NC and the student has not met the 12-month requirement, the student may use the spouse's time in the state to meet the 12-month requirement if the spouse established domicile in NC at least 12 continuous months prior to the start of the term. In these cases, the student must complete the supplement form for Spouses of NC Residents in addition to completing the Residence and Tuition Status Application, and the student must provide supporting documentation as it relates to both the student and the spouse. The amount of time the student and spouse have lived in the state cannot be combined to meet the 12-month requirement.

If I am classified as an in-state student, how long does the benefit last?

You should remain classified as an in-state student until your circumstances change, such as a change in your legal residence. All students are required to report any changes to their permanent residence.

After I am classified either as a nonresident or resident, what are my obligations and requirements if there is a change in the facts of my situation?

Any change in your circumstances, either favorable or unfavorable, must be reported to Student Services Office. Students are responsible for updating their contact information and ensuring that their address information on their student record is correct.

I applied for residency and was denied but my letter did not say why—will someone tell me why?

Anyone denied in-state residency was denied because the preponderance of evidence does not support classification as a resident for tuition purposes. Residency for tuition purposes is not based on one factor alone. All of the facts presented in an application supported by documented evidence are taken into consideration when determining whether the preponderance, or greater weight, of evidence supports North Carolina residency.

Through documented evidence, the student must prove that he/she moved to North Carolina for reasons other than attending an institution of higher learning and that he/she established a permanent residence, and maintained it for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the term of school for which in-state classification is sought. Some students may never qualify as an in-state resident for tuition purposes, particularly if the student applies for admission to the college from another school and attends school full-time semester after semester. The burden of proof is on the student to present documented evidence that he/she moved to the state for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a bona fide domicile, instead of merely maintaining a temporary residence incident to enrollment at the College.

I moved to NC in September. Can I be in-state for this fall since it's only two weeks short of the 12 months?

No – The law is very specific. The waiting period must be at least 12 months prior to the first day of class.

I was just issued my Permanent Resident (green card), Refugee or Asylum status. I've lived in NC for five years. Can I get in-state tuition now?

No – Even though resident aliens have lived in NC and paid taxes for an extended period, they must satisfy the 12-month waiting period from the date that their permanent resident status was issued. The only exception would be if the green card holder is married to a qualified NC resident who is a citizen or has held a green card longer than 12 months prior to the beginning of the term and has performed residency acts in NC. The new card holder could attach to the spouse and borrow from the spouse's 12 month duration of domicile to meet the requirement. They must complete a residency application and present a copy of their marriage license and green card.

I've had a "green card" for three years and my wife is getting her green card next month. Can she come now as an in-state student?

No – She would first have to be issued a green card, perform residentiary acts in NC to show her intent and then she may borrow from her spouse's 12 month duration of domicile to meet the requirement. She must first possess a document that would allow her to establish domicile in the US and thus North Carolina.

My husband is being transferred to North Carolina by his employer. Do we still have to wait the 12 months for our son to qualify for in-state tuition at Johnston Community College?

NC community colleges are allowed to provide a percentage of in-state tuition accommodation to families transferred into NC by business or industry or to civilian families transferred into NC by the military. The student must complete the application and provide the required documentation to support reclassification.

Our family is moving to NC. We have a son who is a freshman in college back home. Will he qualify for in-state tuition after we have lived in NC 12 months?

Not necessarily – When a family moves to NC and has children who are already over 18, the children must also come to NC and take steps to establish domicile (i.e. registering to vote, getting driver's license, working in NC, etc.) on their own before the 12-month waiting period begins. Even though they may be claimed as dependents for tax purposes, under the NC residency law they are considered to be adults capable of establishing domicile.