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Residency for Tuition Purposes

Residency applications, including military waivers, must be submitted prior to the first day of classes for which in-state residency for tuition purpose is being sought. Review of applications for residency reclassification begins 60 days prior to the beginning of the term.

Residency status for the purpose of determining tuition charges at a public institution of higher education in the state of North Carolina is governed by the North Carolina General Statutes. Students who are classified as residents for tuition purposes are eligible for a tuition rate lower than that charged to non-residents because a resident’s tuition is subsidized by revenue from the state of North Carolina. In-state tuition is, therefore, a benefit offered by the state to its residents under terms in the applicable General Statutes. It is strongly recommended that students review the laws and regulations prior to submitting an Application for In-State Residence and Tuition Status.

The Residency Manual and General Information
The Manual to Assist the Public Higher Education Institutions of North Carolina in the Matter of Student Residence Classification for Tuition Purposes contains the governing statutes, definitions of legal terms, regulations, and other relevant information including some examples.
I.Classification Process at ECU
A.Initial Classification.
Every applicant for admissions is required to make a statement as to the length of his or her legal residence in North Carolina. Every applicant is classified as a resident or non-resident for tuition purposes during the admissions process using information from the application for admissions.
B. Appeal of the Initial Residency Classification
Any student, initially classified as a non-resident for tuition purposes may file an application for reclassification with the Graduate School once each semester. The student must complete the Residence and Tuition Status Application (Graduate School). This form may be downloaded from the link below. It is very important all questions be answered and that any supporting documentation or letters of explanation be attached when submitted to the Graduate School. Only “hard copy” information will be used in making the decision. The student will be notified by mail of the reclassification decision.
If residency status changes during an active semester, the ECU Financial Aid Office must be contacted to determine if an adjustment or repayment of funds is required. The Financial Aid Office is located at 2107 Old Cafeteria Complex, or call (252) 328-6610.
C. Campus-level Appeal of the Reclassification Decision
The Graduate School’s residency classification officer’s determination of residence classification may be appealed to the University Residency Appeals Committee. The student should contact the East Carolina University’s Residency Appeals Coordinator at 252-328-6077 within 30 days of the date of the residency reclassification decision letter. Notice of intent to appeal must be made by the student in writing to the coordinator of residency appeals at Coordinator of Residency Appeals, Whichard 100, East Carolina University. Additional documentation and a descriptive letter of appeal may be provided for the committee’s review. The residency appeals coordinator will schedule the appeal for review by the residency appeals committee. The committee consists of members who were not involved in the earlier residency decision. The residency appeals committee will review the documentation in the written file, and the residency appeals coordinator will inform the student of the committee’s decision in writing. Students may also appeal the campus committee’s decision to the State Residence Committee. Information about this level of appeal can be obtained from the residency appeals coordinator.
D. Appeals to the State Residence Committee.

A student whose appeal for in-state tuition has been turned down by the campus appeals committee may request that the appeal be submitted to the State Residence Committee. The request for this review must be made by the student in writing to the coordinator of residency appeals within 10 days of the notice of the decision by the campus Residency Appeals Committee. The coordinator of residency appeals will submit a copy of the student’s file to the student and to the State Residence Committee according to the procedures outlined in the N.C. Residency Manual. No additional material may be submitted for this appeal, because the file reviewed by the campus committee must be the file that will be reviewed by the State Residence Committee.

II. Summary of Fundamental Policies Governing the Determination of Resident Status for Tuition Purposes

The following is a brief summary of the fundamental policies governing the establishment of in-state Residency for Tuition Purposes. You are strongly encouraged to consult the Manual to Assist the Public Education Institutions of North Carolina in the Matter of Student Residence Classification for Tuition Purposes for more detailed information. This manual is on reserve at the Joyner Library (ECU), as well as the libraries of the other constituent members of the University of North Carolina and online here. These policies govern the determination of Residency for Tuition Purposes at all 16 campuses of the UNC system, although the decision at one campus is not binding on the decisions of the other campuses.

A. The determination of in-state residency for tuition purposes requires a judgment by the Residency Classification Officer based on a variety of behaviors that collectively support or refute the student's claim of eligibility. Please note that determining residency requires more consideration than simply verifying if the student has completed a few residentiary steps. Students classified as non-residents (out-of-state) for tuition purposes may file for reclassification once per semester if necessary. Students may appeal any adverse residency classification decisions. (See procedures below).

B. "To qualify as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must have established legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina and maintained that legal residence for at least 12 months immediately prior to his or her classification as a resident for tuition purposes". (General Statute 116-143.1.b)

C. "To be eligible for classification as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must establish that his or her presence in the state currently is, and during the requisite 12-month qualifying period was for purposes of maintaining a bona fide domicile rather than maintaining a mere temporary residence or abode incident to enrollment in an institution of higher education". (General Statute 116-143.1.c )

D. The term DOMICILE is defined as "One's permanent> dwelling place of indefinite duration, as distinguished from a temporary place of abode". (From the Manual .... )

E. Therefore "ESTABLISHING DOMICILE by choice requires the overt act of establishing (1) Physical presence in a place while maintaining at that time (2) the intent to make the place one’s permanent home of indefinite duration." (From the Manual .... )

F. "The domiciliary intent is tested by evaluating relevant, objectively verifiable conduct". The following types of inquiries may be significant although no one item, or combination of items, will necessarily control the determination: (Summarized from the Manual .... )
Living or not living in the home of one's parents.
Sources of one's financial support.
Classification of student on last federal and/or state tax return filed by parents. Place where one spends substantial parts of available vacation time.

NOTE: All NC residents are required by law to complete the following residentiary acts. Please note that these acts should be completed at least 12 months prior to being classified as a resident for tuition purposes. Therefore the following types of behaviors are considered:
Place and time where one has registered and/or licensed a car (must be completed within 30 days after moving to NC according to law).

Place and time where one last acquired a driver's license (must be completed within 60 days after moving to NC according to law).

Place and time where one has filed state income tax returns.

Place and time where one has served on jury duty (when called).
NOTE: Individuals maintaining a domicile ("permanent dwelling place of indefinite duration") usually establish stronger "ties" to the state than is typically found with students who have established a temporary dwelling place in order to attend college and have no intention of remaining in NC. Therefore the following types of behaviors are considered:

Place where one maintains personal property and last listed such for taxation.
Place where one owns a home or other real property and pays taxes thereon.
Place where one resided before enrolling in an institution of higher education.
Place where one is or was gainfully employed.
Place where one maintains membership in one or more professional associations, unions, and other organizations.
Place where one is establishing professional "ties" within the state.
Place where one is establishing "ties" to the community and/or state.

G. The determination of domicile depends upon no one fact, but upon the whole taken together, showing a preponderance of evidence in favor of some particular place as the domicile" (From a legal decision quoted in the Manual.... ).
H."Conduct is of greater evidential value than declarations.
Declarations as to an intention to acquire a domicile are of slight weight when they conflict with the facts" (from a legal decision quoted in the Manual.... ).

Residency for International Students
Some international students may qualify for in-state "Residency for Tuition Purposes" if they have the legal capacity to establish a domicile ("permanent dwelling place of indefinite duration") in North Carolina. In these cases the decision is based on the conditions of the visa held by the individual, and the strength of the "ties" the individual is establishing to the state. After establishing capacity, the individual is then subject to all of the policies governing the determination of "Residency for Tuition Purposes" described above.
Downloadable Forms
Residence and Tuition Status Application (PDF)
(Graduate School)
All students must use this form to apply for reclassification of their current residency status.
Military Application (PDF)
Parent's Affidavit (PDF)