North Carolina Residency

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:

Definitions

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.
Domicile:
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.
Indefinite:
A duration of time having no exact limits or no predetermined end date.
Capacity:
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 Manualpdf icon.)

Application Process

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.

It is very important to:

Online Residency Application:

Students who wish to be considered for in-state tuition benefits will need to complete the Residency Determination Service (RDS) interview process (for initial requests and reconsider requests). Please visit your ConnectCarolina StudentCenter and click the NC Residency Reconsideration or Appeal link under the Personal Information tab. Once you complete the RDS process you must enter your Residency Certification Number (RCN) in your StudentCenter.

To access RDS directly, please visit ncresidency.org.  Beginning September 5, 2018, all requests for in-state residency determinations must be submitted online via the RDS process

Anyone found to purposely present false/misleading information will be subject to the conditions of the University Honor Code.

Special Provisions

The Office of the University Registrar will evaluate and track students’ eligibility for specific exceptions to the residency guidelines.  Many of the exceptions require a supplemental application, which can be found on the Office of the University Registrar’s website.  For questions regarding these exceptions, students and staff may email residency@unc.edu, or call 919-962-3954. 

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:

“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:

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.

Decision Notification

Upon completing the initial RDS interview process, RDS communicates your residency status immediately. This determination is contingent upon you submitting any required documentation and passing validation of the information you provide.

In addition to your residency determination status, RDS provides you a Residency Certification Number (RCN) and a summary of the information you enter. You must enter your RCN number in your ConnectCarolina StudentCenter (if you have an onyen) in order for your residency status to be updated.

For reconsideration and appeal requests, RDS staff must review the request in full before providing a residency status. RDS can review your request only after you provide all your required documents. If your required documents are not submitted before the 25-day deadline, your request is canceled and your residency status remains non-resident.

Appeal Process

You may request an Appeal if you believe that the RDS process has failed to accurately consider important information regarding your residency claim. There are two types of appeal:

  1. RDS Appeal - the RDS Appeal is for students who believe their active residency determination is incorrect - either from an initial consideration or a reconsideration. Students have the ability to request the RDS Appeal online, submit additional information and documentation to support their claim, and meet face-to-face (or via technology) to review their appeal.
  2. SEAA Appeal - the SEAA Appeal is the final administrative step in the residency process. The appeal is conducted by a statewide committee comprised of representatives from the North Carolina Community College System, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, State Education Assistance Authority, and The University of North Carolina System. No additional documentation or information is permitted by RDS or the student in this appeal.

Both the RDS Appeal and SEAA Appeal require submitting a notification to appeal within 10 calendar days of the determination the student is appealing. Requests for appeal after 10 calendar days are not permitted. Go to the Residency Guidelines section of the website to learn more about Appeals.

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. We will update this site and send additional information via email once Fall 2018 dates are available.

Contact Information

For additional information, contact:

The Graduate School
Telephone: (919) 966-2611
Email: grad_residency@unc.edu

University Registrar's website