Residency for the Purpose of Determining Tuition

In compliance with state law, the University of North Carolina system now requires students to request a residency classification from the new Residency Determination Service (RDS).  RDS is the entity responsible for all new classifications of residency in North Carolina.

The specific requirements for establishing residency for tuition purposes and for eligibility for state financial aid are prescribed by state law.  A North Carolina resident for tuition purposes (and for state financial aid consideration) is a person or a dependent person (dependent according to IRS tax code - not the FAFSA definition of dependency), whose parent or legal guardian has established and maintained legal residence in North Carolina for at least 12 months.

Residence in North Carolina must be legitimate and be a permanent situation rather than just for the purpose of maintaining a residence prior to enrollment at an institution of higher education.

Under North Carolina law, to qualify for in-state residency, you must show that you:

  • have established your legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina, and
  • have maintained that domicile for at least twelve (12) consecutive months before the beginning of the term, and
  • have a residentiary presence in the state, and
  • intend to make North Carolina your permanent home indefinitely (rather than being in North Carolina solely to attend college).

Persons not meeting the 12-month legal residence requirement may be classified as North Carolina residents for tuition purposes only if they fall within one of the limited "exception" categories authorized by the North Carolina Legislature.  All others are ineligible for classification as a North Carolina "resident for tuition purposes" and will be charged out-of-state tuition and not be given consideration for state financial aid.  To learn more about residency and complete a determination, go to

 Consistent with North Carolina's public policy of providing the benefits of higher education as free as practicable to the people of our state, the General Assembly has placed stringent criteria on who qualifies as a bona fide resident of this state for tuition purposes.  While each institution of higher education within the state mush allow students a chance to demonstrate that they are bona fide residents of the state pursuant to the provisions of the NC State Residence Classification Manual and applicable laws, the burden of proof of in-state resident status for tuition purposes rests on the student.

NC State Residency Classification Manual

Standard Residency Application

Residency Deadlines:

All applications must be received before the end of Add / Drop for the term or period for which an adjustment is sought.  Students with pending cases must be prepared to pay the out-of-state rate until their case is resolved.  Students who pay the out-of-state rate and who are later determined to in-state rate, will receive a refund for the difference.

Contact Information:

Graduate School
110 Cordelia Camp Building
Cullowhee NC 28723
(828) 227-7398

Local Campus Appeals

Appeal Procedure
A student, who has exhausted the residency application procedure and has been classified as a non-resident for tuition purposes, may request an appeal of that decision to the Residency Appeals Board pursuant to the “Policy and Procedures for Determining Residence Status for Tuition Purposes.”  This request must be in writing to the Chairperson of the Residency Appeals Board and must be submitted to the address listed below at least fifteen (15) business days from the date of the issuance of the letter of determination. The request may consist simply of the statement, "I wish to appeal the decision of my residence classification for tuition purposes." It must be dated and signed and should indicate the applicant's WCU student identification number, academic term, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number.

Request for appeal of residency should be mailed to the following address:

WCU Office of Admission
 Attn: Residency Appeal Chairperson
 102 Camp Building
 Cullowhee, NC 28723

Appeals to State Residency Board

The student has the right appeal on campus. If denied the local campus appeal information will be sent to the student on how to appeal to the state residency board.

Forms for Documenting Statutory Exceptions

1. I am incorrectly classified as an out-of-state resident, what do I need to do to correct the problem?

Contact the appropriate office in relation to student type for concerns regarding residency coding.

New Undergraduate:  Admission Office - 828.227.7317
New Graduate:  Graduate School - 828.227.7398
Continuing Student:  The Office of the Registrar - 828.227.7216

2. How long is THE process and review time for the application?

The initial review of the residency application can typically be completed the same day and a decision rendered.  However, this process can take longer if there are documents not included with the initial residency application.

3. How long DO I have to live in the state of NC to become an IN-state resident for tuition purposes?

The minimum required amount of time to maintain a domicile in North Carolina for tuition purposes is 12 consecutive months prior to enrollment.

4. I work in NC but I live in another state, am I eligible for in-state tuition?

No. The regulations state that the student’s domicile must be in NC.

5. I am active duty military or recently separated from the military, would I qualify for residency?

Military members who separate from the military can be granted in-state residency if the Home of Record at the time of separation is listed as NC OR if the family moves to NC immediately upon separation. Contact The Office for Military Student Services at 828.227.7397 for assistance.

6. My parents are seriously considering moving out-of-state. If that happens, AM I still Eligible FOR in-state tuition? We have been living in NC for over ten years.

The State of North Carolina continues the benefit of in-state tuition to students who move out-of-state for a period of 12 months. However, there are some caveats. Please contact the appropriate office with any questions you may have.

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