This information is designed to be a quick reference for students who are interested in applying for resident tuition status at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If you want more information about the issues discussed here, you should consult the North Carolina Residency Manual for tuition purposes. This manual is on reserve in the House Undergraduate Library, the Health Sciences Library, the Graduate School, and at any of the admissions offices on campus.

Important:   If you are not yet 18, other special rules may apply to you as a minor and you should consult the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for more information.

Note:   There is a difference between being a legal resident and being a legal resident for tuition purposes. A legal resident for tuition purposes is a student 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 and intends to make North Carolina a permanent home rather than being in North Carolina solely to attend college.

Individuals classified as NC residents for tuition purposes are entitled to pay the in-state tuition rate. If you are classified a resident you are likely to remain classified that way as long as you are continuously enrolled.

But, in some circumstances such as those indicated below, you will need to be classified again.

  • If you fail to enroll for one term (spring or fall), and subsequently require re-admission, you will have to fill out a new resident status application.
  • If the University becomes aware of new facts about your status, it has the responsibility to ask for a review of your residency classification to determine if your current classification is accurate.
  • If you change from one division of UNC-CH to another (for example, when you go from undergraduate school to medical school).
According to North Carolina law, if a student has been classified as a resident for tuition purposes and loses his or her North Carolina domicile for some reason while enrolled at a North Carolina institution of higher education, the student can continue to pay the in-state tuition rate for a twelve-month grace period. The twelve months begin at the time the student lost his or her North Carolina domicile. If the grace period expires during the middle of a term, the student is allowed to pay the in-state tuition rate through the end of that term.
According to North Carolina law, if an individual was classified a resident for tuition purposes at a North Carolina institution of higher education at the time he or she left school or graduated, and if that person subsequently abandons North Carolina domicile and then re-establishes North Carolina domicile within twelve months of abandoning it, he or she may re-enroll at a North Carolina institution of higher education as a resident without having to meet the twelve months durational requirement. An individual may take advantage of this statutory provision only once in a lifetime.
If both spouses have established a North Carolina domicile and one spouse has been a domiciliary longer than the other, the member of the couple who has the shorter duration of domicile may borrow his or her spouse’s duration of domicile to meet the twelve months requirement.

For example, if H and W are married and W has been a North Carolina domiciliary for twelve months but H has only been a domiciliary for one month, H can use W’s duration of domicile to meet the twelve months requirement. The two durations cannot be added together to meet the twelve months requirement so, if W had only been a domiciliary for eleven months, H would still be a month short.

Certain visas and other immigration documents allow you to establish a domicile in the U.S. and thus in North Carolina (A, G, I, K, N, T, U, and V visas; permanent resident alien cards; conditional resident alien cards; and certain documents given to refugees or asylees, for example). Other visas do not allow you to establish domicile (B, C, D, F, J, M, P, Q, S, and TN visas, for example).

Whether you can establish domicile with some visas (E, H, L.O) depends on your individual circumstances. If you have an immigration document that doesn’t allow you to establish domicile and you later get one that does allow you to do so, the time you spent in North Carolina under the old document will not count toward the twelve month requirement.

After you receive a new document, you must establish North Carolina domicile and wait twelve months. If you have applied for permanent resident alien status but it has not yet been granted, you are considered still to have the visa or document that you had before you applied for adjustment of status. This is true even if you have been granted a work permit. The application of U.S. immigration law to tuition residency decisions can be very complicated.

Please consult your admissions office for more information.


For consultation concerning unique situations contact the admissions office through which you applied or residency@unc.edu.