Being a state resident can be quite beneficial at state colleges who often charge in-state students less compared to private colleges who may charge every student the same tuition. Many state colleges are authorized by their state legislature to offer discounted in-state tuition in order to retain in-state students. As an outsider who wants this perk, you must understand how long you have to live in a state to get in-state tuition.
How to Qualify for In-State Tuition
The qualification for in-state tuition, set by the school, is usually based upon how long you’ve had that status as a legal resident. The purpose of the residency requirement is to keep most in-state tuition offers limited to either people who have grown up within the state or people who have clearly evidenced their intent to stay in the state permanently after college.
Even if you did not grow up in a certain state or lived there for very long, you still have the chance to fulfill state residency requirements before starting college. In order to do this however, you may want to start thinking ahead six to twenty-four months before starting school. The final decision on whether someone qualifies for in-state tuition is up to the school itself, so the more evidence you have available to show your commitment to the state, the better your chances will be of qualifying for in-state tuition.
Typical State Residency Requirements
State statutes, passed by the local state government, define the residency requirements of any given state. In most states, but not all, you expressly cannot fulfill the residency requirements if you moved to the state and started school there right away. Instead, you must be a non-student resident living in the state for a designated period of time prior to starting college.
Dependent students often have a harder time qualifying for in-state tuition because some states require that they have at least one parent or guardian living in the state prior to moving. Independent students are able to fulfill most requirements simply by living and working within the state themselves or by having a spouse who lives or works there.
By requiring that someone be a legal resident of the state for a significant period of time prior to qualifying, the states hope to weed out students who do not have any intention of staying in the state after graduation.
When Do You Become a Legal Resident?
Most states require that someone live as a resident for a full year prior to the start of school in order to qualify for in-state tuition. However, this time period can vary widely among the different states. For instance, just six months is required in Arkansas while the requirement is a full two years in Alaska. A few states don’t have any time requirement at all. Those states typically require proof that you are living in the state such as providing a lease or purchasing a home. These states simply need you to show your intent to stay which could be as simple as getting a state driver’s license.