Residency Guide

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train image 7 Overview of the Residency Application Process
train image 7 Requirements for In-State Residence Status for Tuition Purposes
train image 7 Applying For In-State Residence Status
train image 7 Decision Notification
train image 7 Appeals Process
train image 7 Special Rules
train image 7 Additional Information

OVERVIEW OF THE RESIDENCY APPLICATION PROCESS

This website serves as a resource for students who are interested in applying for in-state residence status for tuition purposes at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (the “University”).  If you would like more information about the issues discussed herein, please consult the North Carolina State Residence Classification Manual.  The Manual should be your primary resource during this process.  A current version of the Manual is available online at www.northcarolina.edu and also available in print in the Registrar’s Office.

If you are a minor (under the age of 18), special rules may apply to you.  In addition to reviewing the Manual, please consult with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for more information.

Please note that there is a difference between being a legal resident of North Carolina and being a legal resident of North Carolina 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 (12) consecutive months immediately preceding the school term for which he or she seeks the in-state tuition rate and that he or she intends to make North Carolina his or her permanent home, as opposed to being in North Carolina solely to attend college.

Purpose and History of the Law

Since it first became a state, North Carolina has adhered to the philosophy that an educated citizenry is necessary to a democratic government and that the State, therefore, has an obligation to provide for the education of its people.  Specifically, North Carolina’s 1776 Constitution stated, “[A]ll useful learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted in one or more Universities.”  Moreover, Article IX, Section 9, of the State Constitution states:

The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of the University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.

Therefore, while North Carolina welcomes out-of-state students, it considers the privilege of paying a reduced in-state tuition rate to be a taxpayer benefit and necessarily asks those who are not “people of the State” (i.e., not North Carolina legal residents) to assume a greater share of the current cost of their instruction by means of a higher tuition rate.

Administrative Authority

The specific standards for determining resident status for tuition purposes are set forth in North Carolina General Statute section 116-143.1 (the “Statute”).  The Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina and the State Board of Community Colleges are jointly responsible for implementing the Statute.  These boards established the State Residence Committee (the “SRC”), which is composed of individuals from the institutions within The University of North Carolina and Community College Systems.  The SRC has three functions: (1) to decide cases appealed from the universities and community colleges; (2) to recommend changes in the law or policies and procedures by which the law is administered; and (3) to serve as a source of general advice and information on residence questions for the institutions.

Furthermore, the President of The University of North Carolina System is responsible for implementing the Statute within the University System.  The President has delegated that responsibility to the chancellors for the individual institutions.

The Chancellor has established institutional rules of procedure to govern the residency process here at the University.  Each student is classified upon admission as either a resident or a nonresident.  Students who believe that they have been improperly classified or who have experienced a change in residence status may submit a Residence and Tuition Status Application, along with other relevant forms and information.

Employees trained in the relevant laws and procedures (referred to as “Classifiers”) review the application materials and determine whether an applicant qualifies as a resident for tuition purposes.  These individuals receive in-depth training, as well as regular annual training, on the laws and issues surrounding North Carolina residency for tuition purposes.

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REQUIREMENTS FOR IN-STATE RESIDENCE STATUS FOR TUITION PURPOSES

Qualifications

Under North Carolina law, to qualify for in-state tuition for a given term, you must show that:

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

Determination of Intent

Because it is difficult to determine a person’s intent to make North Carolina his or her home, Classifiers must evaluate actions taken by the person that may indicate a “domiciliary intent.”  The Manual lists the following considerations which may be significant in determining this intent:

  • Do you live in your parent’s home?
  • Where were or are you permanently employed?
  • Where are you registered to vote?
  • Where have you served jury duty?
  • What are your sources of financial support?
  • Where have you registered your vehicle?
  • Which state issued your current driver’s license or state I.D. card?
  • Where do you own a home or other real estate that serves as your primary residence?
  • Where do you keep your personal property?
  • Where do you pay taxes on your property?
  • Where do you spend your vacation time (or time off from school)?
  • Where did you file state income tax returns?
  • Where did you last attend high school?
  • Where did you live before enrolling in the University?
  • Where do you maintain memberships in professional associations, unions, or similar organizations?

Preponderance of the Evidence

Residency Classifiers weight all the evidence provided with an application for in-state residence status.  The preponderance (or greater weight) of the evidence must support the establishment of a North Carolina domicile for at least twelve (12) months before the beginning of the academic term (first day of classes) for which residence status is requested.  If the evidence shows a cluster of significant events occurring around the same time (within the same week, for example), the Classifier will start counting from that point to determine if the twelve (12) month requirement has been met.

If, instead, the evidence has gradually accumulated over time, the Classifier must decide at what point a preponderance of the evidence shows an intent to establish a North Carolina domicile, and that is the date on which the twelve-month period will begin.  If this date is less than twelve (12) months before the first day of classes for the term specified on the application, the Classifier will be unable to classify you as a resident for tuition purposes for the term in question.

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APPLYING FOR IN-STATE RESIDENCE STATUS

All residence applications are term-specific.  That is, you must indicate for what term you wish the application to be considered.  It is very important for you to fill out the residence application form and any supplemental application forms completely.  It is very important to attach tangible evidence to support your claim of North Carolina residency.   You are encouraged to respond to requests for additional information as quickly as possible.  If you feel that your answers to the questions on the form do not provide an accurate picture of your case, please attach a written explanation and provide any additional information that may help explain your position.  If your answers are confusing, or if the form is not filled out completely, the Classifier may have to request more information or simply return your application to you for completion.  Either which can delay the process considerably.

Some questions on the application forms ask about your activities during a specific period of time (e.g., one question asks you to list all places where you have spent seven (7) consecutive days or more during the past three years).  Please be sure that you provide an answer that covers the whole time period.  If something happened outside the time period that you believe may be relevant, please include that information as well.  For example, one question asks you to list every time you have obtained a driver’s license in the last twenty-four (24) months.  If you obtained a North Carolina driver’s license three years ago and then obtained a new license two months ago due to a change of address, please provide both dates, even though the first one was more than twenty-four (24) months ago, to provide a complete history.

Also, no matter how old you are, please provide the address(es) of your parent(s).  Under the Statute, the residence of an applicant’s parent(s) is presumed to be the applicant’s domicile, and all other facts in the case are assessed in relation to this starting point.  Without this information, your application cannot be evaluated.

New Applicants

For many students, the residency classification process is simple and occurs at the time of application for admission.  If you were born in North Carolina and have lived in the State all your life, you will probably be one of many University students who are classified as North Carolina residents.  Questions to help determine your initial residency status are embedded as part of your application for admission.

If you lived in another state at the time of application, still have strong ties to another state, or have lived in North Carolina for only a short period of time, the process may be more complicated.  More information will be required to determine whether you are a legal resident of North Carolina.  Applicants seeking the in-state tuition benefit are encouraged to seek guidance from the admissions office to which you have applied for additional residency application information.  Tangible evidence of your residency claim should be attached to your application.  Please see the Manual for an illustrative list.  Again, please keep a copy of all application materials for your records.

Enrolled Students

Students who have been classified as nonresidents or who have experienced a change in residence status may apply for in-state residence status for tuition purposes.  To begin the process, please complete the Residence and Tuition Status Application and any other relevant forms and submit the form(s), along with supporting documentation, to the Admissions Office through which you were last admitted.  Please complete this form and return it no sooner than ninety (90) days before the term for which you are seeking in-state residence status.  Please provide as much information as possible with your application.  Tangible evidence of your residency claim should be attached to your application.  Please see the Manual for an illustrative list.  Please keep a copy of all application materials for your records.

Application Deadlines

Please be aware of the application deadlines for each semester.  The deadline to submit the reclassification application along with all supporting documentation cannot be later than the 10th business day of the term for which the student is seeking residency reclassification. All conditions necessary for achieving in-state status must still be satisfied prior to the beginning of the academic term for which the student is seeking reclassification.  Appeals to the Residence Appeals Board that do not comply with institutional procedures and deadlines are subject to dismissal.

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DECISION NOTIFICATION

Once you submit your Residence and Tuition Status Application, you will receive one of the following responses:

  1. A request for more information regarding your application.
    Tangible evidence of your residency claim should be attached to your application.  Please see the Manual for an illustrative list.  If the Classifier requests additional information, you should promptly respond with the requested information and any other information that you believe may be relevant, no later than two (2) weeks after you receive the request.  If you do not respond to the request within the two week time period, your application will not be considered for the term of application and you will continue to be classified as a non-resident.  You will have an opportunity to reapply for a later term.
  2. A letter stating that you have been classified as a resident for tuition purposes for the term in question;
    If you are classified as a North Carolina resident, you will likely maintain this classification so long as you remain continuously enrolled in your current program.  You must, however, notify the University if you experience a change in circumstances affecting your residence status.  Should you apply or transfer to a different academic level (i.e., undergraduate to graduate) at the University, you must reapply for in-state tuition.   No reclassification review is necessary when a student applies to or changes his or her program at the same academic level, while maintaining continuous enrollment, unless the classification is rebutted by new information.
  3. A letter stating that you have been classified as a non-resident for the term in question;
    If you are classified as a non-resident, you may appeal the decision to the Residence Appeals Board.  Your appeal must be submitted to your Admissions Office within ten (10) business days from the time you receive your classification letter.  The appeal must be in writing and signed by you.  The grounds for appeal to the Residence Appeals Board are: (1) that the decision was made in disregard of or mistake with reference to the requirements of law or Manual policy; (2) that the Manual provisions as currently stated do not address the present issue presented by the decision which is alleged to constitute a violation of state and/or federal law; (3) that the Manual provisions as currently stated are at variance with subsequently developed case law pertinent to the  decision; and/or (4) that the decision is not supported by an evidentiary record providing a reasonable basis for the conclusion reached.
  4. A letter stating that your application has been submitted to the Chair of the Residence Appeals Board, or his or her delegate for further review;
    If your application is referred to the Chair of the Residence Appeals Board, or his or her delegate for further review, the Chair will provide policy or procedural advice to assist in the initial decision.  The Admissions Office will contact you regarding the decision.
  5. A letter stating that, while you may be domiciled in North Carolina, you have not been domiciled here for the requisite twelve-month period and, therefore, you do not qualify as an in-state resident for tuition purposes; OR
    If you have not yet been domiciled in North Carolina for the requisite twelve-month period, you must resubmit another application once you have been domiciled in North Carolina for the requisite twelve-month period.  If you cannot establish that you meet the twelve-month requirement before the beginning of the applicable term, then you will have to wait and submit an application for the following term.  Please be sure to update your application materials with any additional information before resubmission.
  6. A letter stating that you have applied so far in advance of the term in question that the Classifier cannot classify you at this time.
    If you have applied too far in advance of the term in question, the information provided may no longer be applicable when the term actually begins.  Your residency application materials will be returned to you.  You may resubmit your application closer to the beginning of the term in question, making sure to include any applicable updates.  In general, an application should be placed no earlier than 90-days prior to the term.  Please be sure to submit your application before the applicable deadline

    IMPORTANT:  If you experience a change in facts or circumstances that may impact your resident status, you should advise the institution within one semester or term from the date of the change in facts or circumstances. Failure to do so shall be cause for appropriate disciplinary action against you by the institution. The institution may initiate the reclassification inquiry independently at any time after the initial residential classification.

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APPEALS PROCESS

If you are classified as a non-resident, you may appeal the decision to the University’s Residence Appeals Board (the “Board”).  The Board consists of members of the University community, appointed by the Chancellor, who are familiar with and who receive extensive training about the residency classification process.

Requests for appeals must be submitted to the Admissions Office where the classification decision was made within ten (10) business days of your receipt of the classification letter.  The appeal must be in writing and signed by you.  You may also send your request to your Admissions Office from your University email account.  The grounds for appeal to the Board are: (1) that the decision was made in disregard of or mistake with reference to the requirements of law or Manual policy; (2) that the Manual provisions as currently stated do not address the present issue presented by the decision which is alleged to constitute a violation of state and/or federal law; (3) that the Manual provisions as currently stated are at variance with subsequently developed case law pertinent to the decision; and/or (4) that the decision is not supported by an evidentiary record providing a reasonable basis for the conclusion reached.  You can submit your appeal by mailing it to the applicable Admissions Office, delivering it in person to the applicable Admissions Office, or emailing it directly to your Admissions Office from your University email account.  Please keep a copy of any appeals submitted for your records.

Upon receipt of your appeal, your file will be forwarded to the Board.  Shortly thereafter, you should receive an email or phone call to arrange a hearing date before the Board.  Hearings are usually conducted before a panel of three or four members of the Board.  These hearings are relatively informal and often take place in the form of a conversation between the applicant and panel members.  Information not submitted as part of either the initial classification or the reclassification application may still be submitted to the Board if authorized by the Board and in a manner prescribed by procedures adopted by the Board.

During the hearing, the panel members may find the need to ask you questions for a clear understanding of information provided on the application.  These questions are designed to provide a complete picture of your residence status.  You will also be given the opportunity to make a statement or further explain the information provided in your application.  You may also provide any additional, relevant documentation to the panel only with the Boards approval in advance.  The chair of the Board or his or her delegate will take notes of the hearing, which will be read back to you at the end of the hearing to be sure they are accurate.  These notes will serve as the record of your hearing.  The accuracy of this written record is critical because any subsequent appeal to the State Residence Committee will be based upon this record.

You should receive a decision from the Board within 7-10 days of the hearing.  Decisions are provided in writing and sent to you via U.S. Mail.

If you are classified as a non-resident by the Board, you may either reapply for classification as an in-state resident (e.g., for the next applicable term) if you feel that your circumstances have changed, or you may appeal the decision of the Board to the State Residence Committee.  You have ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the Board’s decision to file a notice of appeal.  To do so, you must send a written and signed declaration of your intent to pursue an appeal before the State Residence Committee to the chair of the Residence Appeals Board.  The grounds for appeal to the State Residence Committee are: (1) that the institution’s decision was made in disregard of or mistake with reference to the requirements of law or Manual policy; (2) that Manual provisions as currently stated do not address the present issue presented by the institution’s decision which is alleged to constitute a violation of state and/or federal law; (3) the Manual provisions as currently stated are at variance with subsequently developed case law pertinent to the institution’s decision; and/or (4) that the institution’s decision is not supported by an evidentiary record providing a reasonable basis for the conclusion reached.  More information about the procedures for appealing to the State Residence Committee is provided in the Policies and Procedures of the State Residence Committee.  The State Residence Committee does not hold hearings but, instead, will consider your appeal entirely on the written record.

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SPECIAL RULES

The Statutory Grace Period

The grace period extends for 12 months from the date of the change in legal residence, plus any portion of a semester or academic term remaining at the time the change in legal residence occurred. No change in applicable tuition rates resulting from the expiration of the basic 12-month grace period will be effective during a semester, quarter, or other academic term in which the student is enrolled; the change in tuition rates are effective at the beginning of the following semester, quarter, or other academic term. Once perfected, the grace period is applicable for the entire period at any institution of higher education in the State.

Re-Establishing an Abandoned Domicile within Twelve Months

To qualify for the grace period if the student is no longer enrolled, the student must satisfy the following conditions:

First, the student must have been properly classified as a resident for tuition purposes at the time the student ceased to be enrolled at or graduated from an institution of higher education in this state; and

Second, if the student subsequently abandons his or her domicile in North Carolina and then reestablishes domicile in this state within 12 months of abandonment, the student may reenroll at an institution of higher education in this state as a resident for tuition purposes without having to satisfy the 12-month durational requirement so long as the student continuously maintains his or her reestablished domicile in North Carolina at least through beginning of the academic term for which in-state tuition status is sought. It is important to note that a student may benefit from this particular grace period only once during his or her life. There is no such limitation on the grace period available to students who experience a change in residence status while still enrolled at an institution of high education in this state.

Non-U.S. Citizens

Individuals who are not U.S. citizens must have certain visas and/or approved forms to show that they have the capacity to establish and maintain a domicile in North Carolina.  Please consult the North Carolina Manual for Tuition for a complete description of the policy.  If you are not a U.S. citizen, please complete a Residence Status Supplemental Form for Non-U.S. Citizens and submit it along with your application.

UNC System Employees and Their Families

Permanent, full-time employees of The University of North Carolina System (including UNC Health Care) and their spouses or dependent children may qualify for in-state tuition even if they have not maintained a North Carolina domicile for the required 12-consecutive months.  If you believe you qualify for this benefit, please complete a Residence Status Supplemental Form for UNC System Employees and Their Families and submit it along with your application.

The Marital Provision

Marital status does not affect the residency analysis and, therefore, you are not required to divulge your status or provide information about your spouse.  There is, however, a marital provision that allows an applicant who marries a North Carolina legal resident to count the length of time the resident spouse was domiciled in North Carolina for purposes of satisfying the 12-month durational requirement.  If you believe this provision applies to you, please complete a Residence Status Supplemental Form for the Marital Provision and submit it along with your application.

If you are applying for an applicable spousal benefit, please submit your residency application, spousal supplemental form, and supporting evidence (including spousal evidence and certificate of marriage) to:

UNC-CH Residence Appeals Board
Office of the University Registrar
CB# 2100
Suite 3105, SASB-N
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-2100

The Military Benefit

Under a special provision of North Carolina and federal law requires that non-resident active duty military personnel and their eligible family members be charged in-state tuition.  If you are a member of the armed services who is on active duty, or the spouse, dependent child or dependent relative of a member of the armed services who is on active duty, you may qualify for the in-state tuition rate.  Active duty members of the armed services include those serving in the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy; the N.C. National Guard; and any Reserve Units of these military units.  Military reservists (other than those of the N.C. National Guard) must be on active duty to qualify for the in-state tuition benefit.  If you believe this provision applies to you, please complete the Residence Status Supplemental Form for Members of the Armed Services and Their Dependent Relatives.   If additional information is needed, your admissions office may contact you.

If you are a member of the North Carolina National Guard, you may also qualify for in-state tuition, regardless of whether you are on active or reserve status.  If you believe that you may qualify, please complete a Residence Status Supplemental Form for Members of the North Carolina National Guard.  If additional information is needed, your admissions office may contact you.

Spouses and Children of Deceased or Disabled Law Enforcement or Emergency Workers

If you are a law enforcement or emergency worker who was disabled in the line of duty, or if you are the spouse or child of a law enforcement or emergency worker who was disabled or killed in the line of duty, you may qualify for a tuition waiver.  If you believe that this provision applies to you, please complete a Residence Status Supplemental Form for Spouses and Children of Deceased or Disabled Law Enforcement or Emergency Workers.  If additional information is needed, your admissions office may contact you.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information, please contact your Admissions Office or the Office of the University Registrar at residency@unc.edu.