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 nonresident status is required to request a residency reconsideration via the Residency Determination Service in order to be considered 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 two consecutive terms (fall/spring only). Should the student’s residency status change to nonresident, they will need to request reconsideration in order to be considered for in-state tuition benefits.
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 their 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 they are dependent on their parents and, therefore, that they 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 themself 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 they are 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 with nonresident residency status who wishes to be considered for in-state residency status for tuition purposes.
It is very important to:
- Complete the Residency Determination Service interview with accurate information.
- If additional documentation is required, respond to requests for additional information within the time frame indicated by the Residency Determination Service.
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, reconsideration requests, and appeals). 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.
Residency Application Dates
For a residency determination to be applied to the current term, a student must complete a request for a reconsideration on or before 30 days after the first day of the term.* Students must notify campus of any changes in residency status via their ConnectCarolina StudentCenter in order for changes to be reflected.
*Due to the developments concerning COVID-19, students must complete the residency determination process on or before 45 days from the first day of classes in Spring 2021 for a residency determination to be applied to Spring 2021 tuition.
Upcoming residency application dates are listed below. Please see the Office of the University Registrar for more information.
- Summer I 2021 – RDS reconsideration request on or before May 23, 2021 for determination to apply to Summer I 2021 term
- Summer II 2021 – RDS reconsideration request on or before July 3, 2021 for determination to apply to Summer II 2021 term
- Fall 2021 – RDS reconsideration request on or before October 1, 2021 for determination to apply to Fall 2021 term
- Spring 2022 – RDS reconsideration request on or before February 23, 2022 for determination to apply to Spring 2022 term
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 email@example.com, 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:
- 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 their domicile in North Carolina and then reestablishes domicile in this state within 12 months of abandonment, the student may re-enroll 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 their 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 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.
- If you are required to provide additional documentation and do not submit this documentation before the 25-day deadline, your residency status changes from resident to non-resident.
- RDS validates information you provide with federal and state agencies. Should the information you provide not validate, your residency status changes from resident to non-resident.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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 information sessions on North Carolina residency for tuition purposes and answer questions about the application and review process.
For additional information, contact:
The Graduate School
Telephone: (919) 966-2611