In-State and Out-of-State Residency Criteria

At the time of admission, the Admissions staff will determine the residency status of the applicant based on the information supplied on the application for admission If your classification is determined to be out-of-state, you will receive a letter informing you of such. If you believe that the residency decision is in error, please review the following:

Background of Residency Status

Since it first became a state, North Carolina has held the view 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. North Carolina supports this obligation by subsidizing the cost of a college education for its citizenry who have and will continue to contribute to the state (a legal resident).

Since it is not practical for North Carolina to assume the expense of a college education for all who might come to North Carolina, it welcomes out-of-state students but, like other states, it considers the privilege of paying in-state tuition rates a taxpayer benefit and necessarily asks those who are not “people of the State” (not North Carolina legal residents) to assume a greater share of the current cost of their instruction by means of a higher tuition rate.

State of North Carolina Law

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

  • You established your domicile (legal residence) in North Carolina twelve months prior to the beginning of the term
  • You have maintained it for at least twelve continuous months

To prove you established a bona fide domicile (permanent home of indefinite duration) in North Carolina, you must prove that

  • You were physically present in the state
  • You were in NC with the intent to make NC your permanent home indefinitely
  • You did not move to NC solely for the purpose of attending an institution of higher learning

Residency Classification

The following parameters are used for determining a residency classification:

Capacity and Presence

The student must have the ability to make NC her/his permanent home and must be physically present in the state of NC.

  • If you are under 18, generally your domicile will be the same as your parents’ domicile because, as a minor, you are not legally capable of establishing an independent domicile unless you are married or have obtained a judicial decree of emancipation.
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may or may not qualify for resident tuition status on the same basis as a U.S. citizen. It depends on the type of immigration documents you hold.
  • Presence: You must be here; you must be here for the duration.


The student must perform various actions as evidence of making NC her/his permanent home (a place to which she/he intends to always return).

Because it is difficult to determine your intent, your actions must be evaluated and taken into consideration. The State Residence Classification Manual lists the following considerations which may be significant:

  • Where do you live? With parents or family? Independently?
  • When and where were you last claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes?
  • Where did you last file a state income tax return?
  • Where is your personal property listed for taxation?
  • Where do you keep your personal property?
  • Do you own a permanent home or other real estate?
  • Where do you work?
  • Where did you last obtain a driver’s license?
  • Who owns the car you drive, and where is it registered?
  • Where is the source of your financial support?
  • Where did you last attend school?
  • Where did you live before enrolling in an institution of higher education?
  • Where are you registered to vote? Where did you vote?
  • Where do you maintain memberships in professional associations, unions, and similar organization?


The student must become a legal resident and remain a legal resident for at least twelve months immediately prior to classification.

All of the evidence that you furnish is weighed and the greater weight of the evidence must support your having established and maintained an NC domicile.

If you performed several residentiary acts (e.g., beginning employment, obtaining a drivers license, registering your vehicle, insuring your vehicle, procuring a dwelling, registering to vote, etc.) about the same time, the beginning of your twelve-month requirement will start then. If these acts gradually occur over a period of time, the twelve-month requirement will start at the time when the greater weight of evidence shows that you intended to establish a North Carolina domicile.

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