Generally, establishing residency in California for tuition purposes requires a combination of both physical presence and intent to remain in the state.
Your responses to Cal State Apply determine California Residency. Additionally, the CSU Residence Questionnaire may also be considered when making this determination.
An adult student must establish and maintain permanent residence in California at least one year before the residence determination date to show the intent of becoming a California resident.
A minor derives residence from the custodial parent or the parent with whom the minor child most recently resided.
A student in the National Student Exchange Program (NSE) can become a resident after completing the program and living in the state for at least one year as an independent, self-supporting student.
Residence Determination Dates
Evidence demonstrating intent to remain in the state will vary from case to case but shall include, and is not limited to:
- The absence of residential ties to any other state.
- California Driver's License or California Identification card.
- California vehicle registration.
- Filing California income tax returns.
- California voter registration and voting in California elections.
- Active California bank accounts.
- Owning, leasing, or renting California residential property where permanent belongings are kept.
- Maintaining active membership in California professional or social organizations.
- Maintaining a permanent military address and home of record in California.
Noncitizens establish residence in the same manner as citizens unless precluded by federal law from establishing domicile in the United States.
Exceptions to the General Rules
If a student does not qualify as a California resident, certain exceptions may allow the student to be eligible as a resident for tuition purposes. To qualify, the student must be legally capable of establishing residency in the United States and satisfy the exception requirements by the residence determination date for the term in question (not one year prior).
The following are exceptions applicable to students legally capable of establishing residence:
- Dependent of a California resident.
- AB 540 eligible students.
- Graduate of a California school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- Employees of the CSU or state employees assigned outside California and their spouses registered domestic partners and children.
- Employees of school districts.
- State Government Legislature or Executive Fellowship Program enrollee.
- Amateur student-athletes.
- Spouse or child of deceased law enforcement or fire suppression and prevention public employee.
- Undergraduate dependent of September 11, 2011 attack victims.
- Military personnel: several exceptions are available to active military personnel, their dependents, or to recently discharged military personnel.
California Nonresident Tuition Exemption
Non-California residents who meet specific criteria may be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at California Community Colleges, California State University and University of California institutions.
Students who qualify for a California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request (AB 540) are Non-California residents who:
- Attended a California high school for three or more years AND
- Graduated from a California high school or equivalent (for example, passing the GED or California High School Proficiency exam).
- Is a student without lawful immigration status and must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that he/she has filed an application to legalize his/her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he/she is eligible to do so.
Nonimmigrant students, who are victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes, and have been granted T or U visa status, under Title 8 of the United States Code, sections 1101(a)(15)(T) or (U) are eligible for this exemption.
Students who are nonimmigrants [for example, those who hold the following visas F, J, H, L, A, B, E, etc.] are not eligible.
Nonresident students meeting the criteria will be exempt from the payment of nonresident tuition. However, they will not be classified as California residents. These students will continue to be 'nonresidents'.
The California Dream Act extends the following Entitlement awards to students that meet the criteria: Cal Grant A, B and C, Chaffee grants, and institutional financial aid. Additional criteria may be applicable for some specific types of financial aid.
AB 540 does not provide federal student financial aid eligibility for undocumented students. These students remain ineligible for federal financial aid.
Students who qualify for the AB 540 tuition exemption must submit a California nonresident tuition exemption request along with their high school transcript.
The Chancellor's Office has resources for undocumented students.
Residence Document Deadline
All residence related items for the fall term must be submitted by February 15th to ensure that residency status is classified correctly, for tuition and financial aid purposes.
Students classified as nonresidents may appeal to the Chancellor’s Office within 30 calendar days of the issuance of the notification of the final campus decision. The campus decision may be appealed only if at least one of the following applies:
The decision was based on:
- a significant error of fact;
- a significant procedural error; or
- an incorrect application of law which, if corrected, would require that the student be reclassified as a resident; and/or
- Significant new information, not previously known or available to the student, became available after the date of the campus decision classifying the student as a nonresident, and based on the new information, the classification as a nonresident is incorrect.
Students must explain why the appeal meets one or more of the above appeal criteria and provide supporting documentation. For example, a “significant error of fact” could be demonstrated by stating that the campus incorrectly determined that a specific document, such as a driver’s license, was untimely and by providing a copy of the document establishing the error. An appeal that only states “a significant error of fact” and does not provide proper documentation will be denied.
To contact our office or submit documents, please use the following email:
Establishing Residency: firstname.lastname@example.org
Students incorrectly classified as residents or wrongly granted an exception from nonresident tuition are subject to reclassification as nonresidents and payment of non-resident tuition in arrears. If incorrect classification results from false or concealed facts, the student is subject to discipline pursuant to Section 41301 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.