North Carolina Residency
- Requirements and Background
- North Carolina State Residency Classification Manual
- Application Process
- Special Provisions
- Statutory Grace Periods
- Decision Notification
- Appeal Process
- North Carolina Residency workshops
- Contact information
In order to be considered for in-state residency status for tuition purposes any student, admitted to and enrolled in a graduate degree program administered by The Graduate School, with an undetermined or nonresident status is required to submit a residency application in order to be considered for re-classification for in-state tuition benefits.
Once granted in-state status for tuition purposes, this status will remain in effect unless the student fails to enroll for longer than a 12-month period. Should the student’s residency status change to nonresident, they will need to re-apply in order to be considered for re-classification for in-state tuition benefits.
The instructions for the online residency application described here are only for those graduate programs administered by The Graduate School.
The Graduate School does not determine residency decisions for the following degree programs:
MAC, MBA, DDS, MSA, selected MED, JD, LL.M., CERAUDC, AUD, DPT, MD, MMDS, MRS, PHARMD, Friday Center for Continuing Education.
Students seeking one of the degrees listed above must contact their admissions office directly.
Requirements and Background
The North Carolina State Constitution, Section 9 states, “The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”
This is the constitutional basis for conducting residency classifications for tuition purposes. The State of North Carolina created and maintains its public institutions primarily for the benefit of the residents of North Carolina. Under the North Carolina State Constitution, the State’s policy is to provide the educational benefits of its institutions of higher education at as low a cost as is practicable to those students who qualify as “people of the State.” In order to accomplish this, nonresidents are charged a higher tuition rate than State residents.
The North Carolina General Assembly enacted a detailed law for determining who qualifies for lower in-state tuition. North Carolina General Statute Section 116-143.1 provides specific guidelines and standards that should be used to determine whether someone qualifies as a resident for tuition purposes, so as to receive the lower in-state tuition rate. Subsections of this statute also provide the applicable standards for special rules and exceptions. The review of all North Carolina residency applications for tuition purposes is guided by the laws outlined in the above-mentioned General Statute.
To assist in the preparation of your application for in-state status for tuition purposes, we have summarized several key points and definitions below.
Under North Carolina General Statute § 116-143.1, to qualify for in-state tuition an applicant (legal resident) must demonstrate a preponderance of evidence that:
- he/she established and maintained a domicile in North Carolina at least twelve months before the first day of classes, and
- with the intent to make North Carolina a permanent home indefinitely, and
- he/she was not in North Carolina solely to attend college.
- Resident for Tuition Purposes:
- A person who has: (1) established domicile in North Carolina, and (2) maintained that domicile for a period of at least 12 months prior to his or her classification as a resident for tuition purposes.
- A person’s true, fixed and permanent home and place of habitation of indefinite duration. The terms “domicile” and “legal residence” are used interchangeably.
- Residence versus Domicile:
- “Residence is a place of abode, and may be either permanent or temporary. By contrast, domicile is never temporary; rather, it is one's permanent, established home. To be domiciled in a particular place, one must intend to remain there for an indefinite period of time, and it is the place where one intends to return if absent. A person may have many residences, but may only have one domicile.” A domicile is not a temporary residence established for the purpose of attending the University.
- A duration of time having no exact limits or no predetermined end date.
- The legal ability to establish residence unimpeded by other factors, such as age or improper immigration status. Capacity includes the ability to remain in North Carolina indefinitely through one’s own financial resources.
- Dependent versus Independent:
- If an applicant’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) are domiciled in North Carolina, the applicant may seek to show that he or she is dependent on his or her parents and, therefore, that he or she should be presumed to have their domicile. Proof of parental/guardian domicile in North Carolina is required. Dependent refers to a person defined as a “qualifying child” or “qualifying relative” for income tax purposes. Independent refers to a person who is legally entitled to claim himself or herself on income tax returns, is not claimed as a dependent by others, and possesses sufficient funds to live and pay tuition and fees without parent-financed, parent-guaranteed, or co-signed loans.
- Bona Fide:
- In good faith with earnest intent. A bona fide domicile is one in which the person’s relevant conduct and motivation evidence a genuine desire to establish legal residence in North Carolina.
- Burden of Proof:
- The applicant bears the burden of proof and must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she is a bona fide domiciliary for tuition purposes. The following actions are taken into account as intent to establish a permanent domicile in North Carolina. This list represents examples of acts that can be taken and does not represent a comprehensive set of actions nor does it serve as a checklist for a residency decision. No one action by itself guarantees or denies NC residency status for tuition purposes.
- Financial independency/Employment
- Voter registration and activity
- Jury duty
- Sources of financial support
- Car registration
- Driver's license
- State identification card
- Property ownership
- State income tax returns
- Time in and out of state
- Ties to community
- Non-US Citizens:
- Non-U.S. citizens must have certain visas and/or approved forms in order to have the capacity to establish and maintain a domicile in North Carolina. If these requirements are met, then non-U.S. citizens are subject to the domicile analysis like any other applicant. (NC State Residence Classification Manual.)
Who Should Apply:
Any student admitted to and enrolled in a graduate degree program administered through The Graduate School, with an undetermined or nonresident status who wishes to be considered for in-state residency status for tuition purposes. All students in programs administered by other schools or departments should submit applications according to their specific program's process. This includes all undergraduate and continuing studies students and students earning degrees not administered by The Graduate School. Please contact your specific program directly with any questions.
Applications must be submitted for a specific semester in accordance to filing period dates. It is very important to:
- Fill out the online residency application completely and with accurate information.
- Respond to requests for additional information within the time frame indicated.
- Provide information in the ‘additional comment section’ of the application to ensure an accurate review and outcome.
Application Filing Periods:
The application for a given semester must be submitted, with all supporting documentation, by specific deadline dates as posted on the Office of the Registrar’s website. Residency applications submitted after the posted deadlines are not accepted for review.
Online Residency Application:
We only accept and review residency applications submitted via our online residency application process. To access the online form you must have an ONYEN account.
HARD COPY PAPER APPLICATIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTED.
Anyone found to purposely present false/misleading information will be subject to the conditions of the University Honor Code.
Steps for Completing the Online Residency Application
- Access the online residency application
- Enter ONYEN/Password
- Click “Start a New Graduate School Residency Application”
- Complete General Information Section
- Click “next”
- Complete remaining Application sections
- Click “submit”
- If problems occur with online application, please use the “Feedback” tab
Once submitted, you will receive an email notification of receipt
All documents supporting a student’s application for NC residency for tuition purposes may be uploaded as PDF attachments as part of the online application. It is strongly suggested that all documentation that can help support an application be included at the time of submission. This will present a clearer case of a student's residency qualifications.
- North Carolina driver’s license or state identification card
- Rental leases or property deeds
- Sources of financial support
- Vehicle registration
- North Carolina state taxes
- Visas/immigration status documents
- Military affidavits
- Employment letter (only if full-time permanent employee in the UNC system)
DO NOT attach personal pictures or other images not pertinent to the issue of residency.
- International Students:
- There are certain capacity-granting statuses for international students that grant the legal ability to establish and maintain a bona fide domicile in the United States. Under these conditions, non-U.S. citizens are subject to the same considerations as U.S. citizens in determining residence status for tuition purposes. Please refer to the North Carolina State Residence Classification Manual for specific visa and immigration status guidelines. All visa and immigration statuses must be supported by the appropriate documentation. International Student & Scholar Services has additional information regarding visa designations. Please see the Required Supplemental Forms for Specific Provisions section below.
- Employee Tuition Benefit:
- A person who is a full-time permanent employee of The University of North Carolina System (UNC Health Care included), or is the spouse or dependent child of said full-time permanent employee and who is a legal resident of North Carolina, qualifies as a resident for tuition purposes. Under these conditions, it is not required for the applicant to have maintained legal residence for at least 12-months immediately prior to his or her classification as a resident for tuition purposes. The employee must be continuously employed during the course of enrollment in order to receive this benefit. Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, Post-Doctoral Scholar or Resident/Fellow statuses are not considered full-time permanent employees.
- Applications submitted under the Employee Tuition Benefit provision must be received no sooner than 30 days prior to, and no later than the first day of classes in, the semester for which this benefit is being pursued. A letter on official letterhead from the supervisor or human resources representative stating employment status must be included with the online application. Please see the Required Supplemental Forms for Specific Provisions section below.
- Spouse-Pair Provision:
- All spousal information is voluntarily submitted. If both spouses have established a North Carolina domicile and one spouse has been a domiciliary longer than the other, the member of the couple who has the shorter duration of domicile may borrow his or her spouse's duration of domicile to meet the twelve month requirement. The two durations cannot be added together however to meet the twelve month requirement. For spouses of full time permanent employees of the UNC system see the Employee Tuition Benefit. Please see the Required Supplemental Forms for Specific Provisions section below.
- Military and Dependents:
- Active duty personnel in the armed services, and their spouses, dependent children and dependent relatives may be eligible for in-state tuition. Applications submitted under the Military Tuition Benefit provision must be received no sooner than 30 days prior to, and no later than the first day of classes in the semester for which this benefit is being pursued. All required affidavits for the Military Tuition Benefit must be included with the online application.
- To be eligible for the Military Tuition Benefit as a member of the armed services, the applicant must:
- Be a member of the US Air Force, US Army, US Coast Guard, US Marine Corps, US Navy, North Carolina National Guard, or a member of a reserve component of one of these services
- Be on active duty stationed on permanent status in NC
- Supply an affidavit attesting to their duty status, PCS orders, and location (a copy of your military orders will not satisfy this requirement)
- Those military members honorably discharged/retired from one of the aforementioned branches and a resident of the state do not have to satisfy the 12-month requirement, but do have to establish domicile in the state within 30 days of discharge. To qualify for the Military Tuition Benefit as a military dependent, the applicant must submit an affidavit from the appropriate military authority that says they are the dependent of a military service member who is stationed in North Carolina (PCS orders) on active duty. In addition, the applicant must be living with that service member. Males between the ages of 18 and 26 must be registered with the Selective Service System. Please see the Required Supplemental Forms for Specific Provisions section below.
Statutory Grace Periods: As documented in the NC Residency Manual
If a student has been properly classified as a resident for tuition purposes at an institution of higher education in North Carolina, a change in their state of residence does not result in an immediate or automatic loss of entitlement to the in-state tuition rate. Students in this situation are allowed a “grace period” during which the in-state rate will still be applicable even though the student is no longer a legal resident of North Carolina. The grace period can apply under certain circumstances both to currently enrolled students as well as to students who are no longer enrolled or who have graduated.
Grace Period for Currently Enrolled Students: To qualify for the grace period if the student is currently enrolled, the student must satisfy the following conditions:
- First, the student must have been properly classified as a resident for tuition purposes on the basis of a valid finding that the student in fact was domiciled in (a legal resident of) North Carolina and had been for the required 12-month period prior to classification.
- Second, at the time of change of legal residence to a state other than North Carolina, the individual must have been enrolled in an institution of higher education in North Carolina.
“Enrolled” shall include both persons who are actually attending the institution during an academic term as well as those whose consecutive attendance of academic terms has been interrupted only by institutional vacation or summer recess periods. A person whose change in legal residence occurred during a period while not enrolled is not entitled to this benefit.
The grace period extends for 12 months from the date of the change in legal residence, plus any portion of a semester or academic term remaining at the time the change in legal residence occurred. No change in applicable tuition rates resulting from the expiration of the basic 12-month grace period will be effective during a semester, quarter, or other academic term in which the student is enrolled; the change in tuition rates are effective at the beginning of the following semester, quarter, or other academic term. Once perfected, the grace period is applicable for the entire period at any institution of higher education in the State.
Grace Period for Non-Enrolled Students: To qualify for the grace period if the student is no longer enrolled, the student must satisfy the following conditions:
- First, the student must have been properly classified as a resident for tuition purposes at the time the student ceased to be enrolled at or graduated from an institution of higher education in this state.
- Second, if the student subsequently abandons his or her domicile in North Carolina and then reestablishes domicile in this state within 12 months of abandonment, the student may reenroll at an institution of higher education in this state as a resident for tuition purposes without having to satisfy the 12-month durational requirement so long as the student continuously maintains his or her reestablished domicile in North Carolina at least through beginning of the academic term for which in-state tuition status is sought.
It is important to note that a student may benefit from this particular grace period only once. There is no such limitation on the grace period available to students who experience a change in residence status while still enrolled at an institution of high education in this state.
Upon submitting an online residency application for tuition purposes, you will receive an email notification that your application has been received for review. If necessary, additional information may be requested, via email, for a more thorough review of your application. Such a request will include a deadline date for providing the additional information. Once reviewed, you and your academic program will receive an email notification of the decision regarding your residency status. If you are classified a resident for tuition purposes, you will receive a revised tuition statement and/or refund as appropriate. If you are classified a non-resident for tuition purposes, you may appeal the decision to the Residence Status Committee.
Prior to requesting an appeal, please review your application and determine if you met the requisite 12 month presence in the state with tangible actions taken as described above. If not, and you do not qualify for a benefit or provision, it might be in your best interest to reapply for classification as a resident for tuition purposes in a later semester.
A request for an appeal to the Residence Status Committee must be received via email within 15 working days of receipt of the classification decision. You will receive a confirmation email that your request has been received and that your application and all appropriate information has been sent to the Appeals committee. You will be contacted directly by a representative of the Appeals Committee to coordinate the date, time, and place of your appeal meeting. For specific question about the appeal process, please contact the Residency Status Committee, Office of the Registrar, 919-962-5540.
If you are classified non-resident by the Residence Status Committee you may either reapply for a later term when you feel your circumstances have changed or you may appeal the decision to the State Residence Committee. You have ten days from receipt of the Residence Status Committee decision notification letter to file notice of appeal. To do so you need to send a signed notice that you want to appeal. Grounds for appeal and instructions on how to file a notice of appeal are detailed in the Residence Status Committee decision notification letter. Once you file a notice of appeal you will receive a letter outlining instructions on how to complete the appeal process. The State Residence Committee does not hold hearings but will consider your appeal on the basis of the written record if chosen for review.
North Carolina Residency Workshops
Each semester representatives from The Graduate School facilitate several information sessions on North Carolina residency for tuition purposes and answer questions about the application and review process.
Supplemental Forms Required for Specific Provisions
If applying under one of the special provisions described above, please complete and send the appropriate supplementary application directly to The Graduate School for review along with your online application.
- Resident Status Supplemental Form for Non-US Citizens
- Spousal Supplemental Form
- Application for Military Tuition Benefit
For additional information, contact:
The Graduate School; CB# 4010
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010
Telephone: (919) 966-2612
FAX: (919) 966-4010