What is Residency for Tuition Purposes?
The determination of residency for tuition purposes affects whether a student pays in-state or out-of-state tuition fees. Out-of-state tuition fees are higher than in-state tuition fees. Just because a student is or has been a resident of the State of California does not mean that he or she qualifies to receive the in-state tuition rate. Certain requirements, established under California law, must be met.
Your responses on your Cal State Apply application determines the initial residency classification. Additionally, the CSU Residence Questionnaire may also be considered when making this determination.
The provisions for California residency for tuition purposes at the California State University (CSU) differ from other provisions of California residency. Additionally, the provisions for residency at the CSU differ from those at the University of California and the California Community Colleges.
A student attending a CSU as a first-year, transfer or post-baccalaureate student must have the legal capacity to establish residency in the State of California. If the student is under the age of 19 (with limited exceptions), the student’s residence status is derived from that of the parent or, if both parents are deceased, from that of the legal guardian.
For more information about an initial classification of residency in California, see California Education Code Section 68017 and California Code of Regulations Title 5, Sections 41904 and 41905.
Generally speaking, to be eligible for classification as a California resident for tuition purposes, the student or if the student is a minor, the parent/guardian must provide verification that these requirements are satisfied:
- Physical Presence: The student or parent/guardian must be physically present in California for more than one year immediately preceding the Residence Determination Date in which enrollment is contemplated. For example, if a student plans to attend the CSU for the Fall 2021 academic term, and the Residence Determination Date for that term is September 20, 2021, the student must establish physical presence in California no later than September 19, 2020.
- Intent: The student or parent/guardian must demonstrate intent to remain indefinitely in the state for more than one year immediately preceding the Residence Determination Date and sever all residential ties with the former state or country of residence. Additionally, there must be sufficient documentation to demonstrate that intent was established more than one year (a minimum of one year and one day) prior to the Residence Determination Date.
Intent to remain indefinitely in California can be supported by various actions and documents. Factors that may be considered in determining intent include the following:
- State driver’s license or identification card
- State vehicle registration
- State income tax returns
- State where the student is registered to vote
- Address that is listed on federal income tax returns
- Voting history
- Locations listed as the student’s permanent military address or home address
- State-issued professional licenses (e.g., nursing, teaching credentials)
- Locations of active memberships in professional organizations (e.g., police union, teachers’ union)
- Locations of financial accounts
Actions and/or documents which show residential ties to a State or country other than California may be a cause for a denial of residency.
Residence Determination Dates
Certain nonresident students (including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented individuals) who have attended, graduated, or achieved the equivalent from a California school may be exempted from paying nonresident tuition. Such students must remain classified as "nonresidents" for residence classification and financial aid eligibility purposes. Students seeking exemption from nonresident tuition must satisfy attendance requirements and graduation/transfer requirements. Students must also complete and submit the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request form, along with supporting documents (i.e., transcripts, proof of attendance) to the campus Admissions and Records Office.
California Education Code Section 68130.5 states that a student shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition at the California State University and the California Community Colleges if the student meets the following requirements:
A total attendance of – or attainment of credits earned while in California equivalent to – three or more years of full-time attendance or attainment of credits at any of the following:
- California high schools.
- California high schools established by the State Board of Education.
- California adult schools established by any of the following entities:
- A county office of education.
- A unified school district or high school district.
- The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
- Campuses of the California Community Colleges*
- (v) A combination of those schools set forth in (i) to (iv), inclusive.
Please note that only two (2) years of community college attendance can be used to satisfy this requirement. A third year must be taken from attendance at one of the schools listed above (i-iii).
*A year's equivalence at a California community college is either a minimum of 24 semester units of credit or 54 quarter units. Only two (2) years of full time attendance in credit courses at the California community colleges will count towards the three (3) or more years of attendance. Full-time attendance at a California adult school is a minimum of 420 hours of attendance for each school year.
Three or more years of full-time high school coursework, and a total of three or more years of attendance in California elementary schools, California secondary schools, or a combination of California elementary and secondary schools.
Students must satisfy the graduation/transfer requirement by fulfilling any of the following:
- Graduation from a California high school or attainment of the equivalent thereof; or
- Attainment of an associate degree from a campus of the California Community Colleges; or
- Fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements established for the CSU for students transferring from a campus of the California Community Colleges.
Remember, students will not be considered for this exemption unless the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Request form is completed and submitted along with supporting documents (i.e., transcripts, proof of attendance at a California school) to our Residency Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, a student who was a lawful non-immigrant individual during his/her high school attendance, but who is no longer a non-immigrant (e.g., a student whose valid non-immigrant visa has expired, but who has not applied for any other non-immigrant status or a student who has applied for permanent residence, asylum, or another immigration classification other than as a non-immigrant), is entitled to this exemption provided s/he has met all other requirements for the exemption.
California law provides for specific exceptions to nonresident tuition. A full list of exceptions is available on the California State University webpage. You may contact our Residency Specialists at email@example.com to verify your eligibility for an exception or exemption.
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:
- 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.
More information, including the link to submit the Residency Appeal is available on the California State University website.
Students with an undetermined residency statuses will have a request for residency items on their myCoyote To Do list.
All residency related items for the Fall term must be submit by February 15th to ensure that you residency status is classified correctly for tuition and financial aid purposes. Spring applicants must submit residency items by October 1st.
You may contact our Residency Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on what you may need to submit.
Undocumented students may find more resources through our Undocumented Student Success Center, or more information may be found on the California State University website.
To contact our Residency Specialists or submit documents, please email us:
Residency Specialists: email@example.com
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.