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Residency Requirements

A student who seeks a status change regarding North Carolina residency for tuition purposes must submit an application to have his/her residency status determined. Before submitting an application for NC residency status, a student should be aware of how state law defines those qualifying for the in-state rate. A student qualifies for the in-state tuition rate only after establishing that he/she meets domiciliary status as defined by state law.

State law governing the determination of residency for tuition purposes distinguishes between residence and domicile. The state manual providing guidance for determining qualification for in-state tuition is accessible here, and is summarized below:
  1. State law distinguishes between residence and domicile. Residency is achieved merely by living in state. Domicile is established by making a permanent "home", where one intends to live for an indefinite period of time. Only a domiciliary of NC qualifies for the in-state tuition rate.

  2. Proof of residence in NC for 12 months is not sufficient evidence to support a change of status. State law dictates that an applicant becomes eligible for the lower tuition rate 12 months after "a cluster of domiciliary acts is established as confirmed by valid evidence." The burden of proof is upon the person who wishes to establish that he/she is a domicile of the state.

  3. State law assumes that a student's domiciliary status is that of his/her living parents or guardian. A student wishing to establish domiciliary status in NC, who has a living parent(s) or guardian(s) domiciled in a state other than NC, must present proof that (1) he/she has abandoned dependency upon his/her parents or guardian, (2) has capacity to establish independent domicile, (3) has completed domiciliary acts in the state of NC, and (4) has maintained domiciliary status in NC for a period of 12 months prior to the start of the academic term for which he/she wishes the in-state residency status to apply.

  4. State law makes some categories of residents eligible for the in-state tuition rate through exemptions. The residence officer will pursue an in-state classification if applicable.
Establishing residency is not sufficient to qualify for in-state status for tuition purposes. There is no specified characteristic that classifies one as being a domiciliary of NC, but a domiciliary should be able to establish status, by presenting a preponderance of evidence that NC is home. Documents of proof must accompany the application for in-state tuition and provide evidence that the applicant is a NC domiciliary. Some examples of domiciliary proof are as follows:
  • Have capacity to establish residency as evidenced by earning/obtaining resources sufficient to support self
  • Hold and carry a NC driver's license
  • File Federal and NC taxes as a NC resident
  • Pay NC income tax
  • Receive benefits from the state of NC
  • Drive a vehicle registered with the state of NC
  • Vote as a NC citizen
  • Establish a home in NC as evidenced by a lease or mortgage
  • Insure vehicle through NC insurance policy
Residency status at the beginning of an academic term applies for the duration of the semester. Students are encouraged to confirm residency status upon submission of a college application. Notification of out of state status is included with the admissions letter, which is mailed upon receipt of a complete application for admission. A student seeking a change in residency status must apply for in-state residency. Applications received after the 10th business day of the academic semester will apply to the following semester. Students are responsible for payment of tuition charges regardless of residency status.

If a student believes he/she meets the domiciliary status as defined by NC law but the application for in-state tuition is denied, the student may appeal the decision to the Vice President of Student Services.

NC Residence & Tuition Status Application