SALISBURY, N.C. — A new online service to determine North Carolina residency for tuition purposes and eligibility for state grants is being implemented in all North Carolina colleges and universities.Students use computers for RDS

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College began using the new system in May.

With the new system, undergraduate residency determinations are conducted centrally through Once the undergraduate service is fully operational, the work will begin to incorporate centralized residency determination for graduate and professional students.

In 2013, the General Assembly enacted legislation directing the University of North Carolina, the North Carolina Community College System and the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA), in consultation with the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, to develop and implement a single coordinated and centralized process to determine residency for tuition and state financial aid purposes.

The following guidelines were used to develop the new service:

  • Increase efficiency with the creation of an online, paperless process.
  • Protect personal information with a secure, encrypted process.
  • Produce accurate, consistent outcomes by using a trusted but validated strategy employing data matches with other state and federal agencies.

“The new North Carolina Residency Determination Service (NC RDS) platform offers a user-friendly interface designed to be responsive and simple for students to use. The tool is tailored to each student, asking the minimal number of questions to determine residency,” says Elizabeth McDuffie, executive director of NCSEAA, the state agency responsible for implementing the service. “NC RDS alleviates the need for students to answer questions on multiple institutional applications and ensures consistency for tuition purposes and financial aid consideration.”

All students are now required to complete the new North Carolina residency determination request prior to completing and submitting their application, and some students are struggling to navigate the new system.

“It is important for students to understand the new process and provide accurate and complete information so that the system can verify their identity and where they live,” said Rebecca Dean, director of on-boarding and student success strategies for Rowan-Cabarrus.

“Since Rowan-Cabarrus began using RDS in May, we have seen a lot of students leave forms incomplete and there is no shortcut as the information has to be verified. Unfortunately, if students do not fully complete the form and provide all necessary information, they will be unable to complete their application to the College and successfully register,” said Dean.

Given that RDS is a third-party system that is required statewide, schools are limited in how they can assist students once there is a problem. Students planning to enroll in the fall are urged to complete their RDS form well in advance.

“Apply now, apply early, and make sure you complete the entire process so you will have time to resolve any questions,” said Dean.

The system often requires information about not just the student, but about the parent. Student and parent social security numbers, individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN), alien registration numbers (ARN/A-number), or US Citizenship and Immigration Service numbers (CIS) are required. Because the system cross-references with other systems like the DMV and the Department of the Treasury to verify in-state status, parent and/or student vehicle registration and driver’s license information as well as parent and/or student federal and state tax returns may also be required.

An early release of the N.C. Residency Determination Service (NC RDS) was introduced to a subset of students at the N.C. Independent (private, non-profit) Colleges and Universities in December and will be implemented on a phased schedule for all North Carolina public colleges and universities over the next few months. For more information about the Residency Determination Service, visit

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit or call 704-216-RCCC (7222). The College is currently accepting applications for the fall term. Registration is now underway for fall classes beginning on August 14, 2017.