image 475x230

North Carolina Residency Information


Under North Carolina law, a person may qualify as a resident for tuition purposes in North Carolina, thereby being eligible for a tuition rate lower than that for nonresidents for tuition purposes. Copies of the applicable law and of implementing regulations are available for inspection in the Undergraduate Admissions Office and at the Reserve Desk in Randall Library and may be examined upon request. In essence, the controlling North Carolina statute (G.S. 116-143.1) requires that "To qualify as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must have established legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina and maintained that legal residence for at least 12 months immediately prior to his or her classification as a resident for tuition purposes." G.S. 116-143.1 also sets forth statutory definitions, rules, and special provisions for determining resident status for tuition purposes. These provisions include special rules with respect to persons who are married or who are within identified subclasses of minors. Certain aliens may also qualify for resident tuition status.

The Manual to Assist the Public Higher Education Institutions of North Carolina in the Matter of Student Residence Classification for Tuition Purposes is located at the offices identified in this paragraph, and should be consulted for the statutory and related regulatory conditions.

Under North Carolina law, legal residence means more than simply living in the state. More specifically, it means maintaining a domicile (permanent home of indefinite duration) as opposed to a temporary residence incident to enrollment in a university, college or technical institute of the state. The individual seeking to become a North Carolina resident must demonstrate that he/she is financially independent of parent(s) or guardian if the parent(s) or guardian are non-residents of North Carolina, and must demonstrate a visible means of support substantiating the claim of financial independence. If the individual has not been entirely self-supporting during the last 24 months, a completed affidavit may be required from the parent(s) to indicate the amount of support provided.


A person who wishes to be classified as an in-state resident for tuition purposes must have lived in North Carolina for at least one calendar year AND show intent to maintain permanent legal residence in North Carolina. Students enrolled in North Carolina universities and colleges who desire to be classified as in-state students for tuition purposes must:

  • Demonstrate that they have in fact lived in North Carolina for a minimum period of twelve months immediately prior to enrollment or re-enrollment.
    • Students must maintain and reside (physically live) in a domicile or permanent home of indefinite duration for at least 12 months immediately prior to the semester in which the in-state status can be made effective.
  • Demonstrate that their presence in the state constituted legal residence.
  • Students must perform a preponderance of residentiary acts, (See a complete list of residentiary acts below) at least 12 months immediately prior to the semester in which the in-state status can be made.
  • Students must clearly demonstrate a visible means of support substantiating a claim of financial independence as evidenced by cumulative year-to-date wage earning statements and or loan paperwork. If the individual has not been entirely self-supporting during the last 24 months, a completed affidavit may be required from the parent(s) or legal guardian.


Items that should be changed to reflect North Carolina residency

  • Driver's License or Identification Card
  • Motor Vehicle Registration
  • Voter Registration
  • Banking, Clubs, Memberships, etc.
  • Personal Property Taxation
    • Motor vehicle taxes
    • State income tax
    • Home property taxes


In order to determine whether a given student has established a legal residence in North Carolina, school officials must be able to conclude from information supplied by the student that the conduct of the student, taken as a whole, demonstrates his/her intent to make North Carolina a permanent dwelling place. The basis for determining the appropriate tuition charge rests upon whether a student is a resident or a nonresident for tuition purposes. Each student must make a statement as to the length of his or her residence in North Carolina with assessment by the institution of that statement to be conditioned by the following:

Residence: To qualify as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must become a legal resident and remain a legal resident for at least twelve months immediately prior to classification. Thus, there is a distinction between legal residence and residence for tuition purposes. Furthermore, twelve months legal residence means more than simple abode in North Carolina. In particular, it means "maintaining a domicile (permanent home of indefinite duration) as opposed to "maintaining a mere temporary residence or abode incident to enrollment in an institution of higher education." The burden of establishing facts that justify classification of a student as a resident entitled to in-state tuition rates is on the applicant for such classification The applicant must show his or her entitlement by the preponderance (the greater part) of the residentiary information.

Initiative: Being classified a resident for tuition purposes is contingent on the student seeking such status and providing all information that the institution may require in making the determination. Accurate completion of the classification as a legal resident for tuition purposes forms is essential for review and processing.

Parent's Domicile: If an individual, irrespective of age, has living parent(s) or court appointed guardian of the person, the domicile of such parent(s) or guardian is, prima facie, the domicile of the individual; but this prima facie evidence of the individual's domicile may or may not be sustained by other information.

Effect of Marriage: Marriage alone does not prevent a person from becoming or continuing to be a resident for tuition purposes, nor does marriage in any circumstances insure that a person will become or continue to be a resident for tuition purposes. Marriage and the legal residence of one's spouse are, however, relevant information in determining residentiary intent. Furthermore, if both a husband and his wife are legal residents of North Carolina and if one of them has been a legal resident longer than the other, then the longer duration may be claimed by either spouse in meeting the twelve month requirement for in-state tuition status.

Military Personnel: A North Carolinian who serves outside the state in the armed forces does not lose North Carolina domicile simply by reason of such service. Students from the military may prove retention or establishment of residence by reference, as other cases, to residentiary acts accompanied by residentiary intent. In addition, a separate North Carolina statute affords tuition rate benefits to certain military personnel and their dependents even though not qualifying for the in-state tuition rate by reason of twelve months legal residence in North Carolina. These tuition benefits may be enjoyed only if the applicable requirements for admission have been met; these benefits alone do not provide the basis for receiving those derivative benefits under the provisions of the residence classification statute reviewed elsewhere in this summary.

NC Veteran's Choice Act: We are accepting applications for the Veteran's Choice Act benefit. This benefit provides the in-state tuition rate to qualified veterans and dependents.

To be eligible for the benefit, the veteran or dependent student using a transferred post 9/11 G.I. Bill must:

  • Enroll in an institution of higher learning within three years of discharge from active duty service of 90 days or more prior to the first day of the semester the students intends to enroll in.
    (Ex. Spring 2016 semester begins January 11th, veteran service member must have a discharge date after January 11, 2013 and before January 10, 2016 regardless if the benefit is being used by the veteran or dependent student.)
  • Demonstrate "proof of abode" in North Carolina
    (Ex. copy of NC driver's license, copy of lease/letter from landlord, copy of NC utility bill, etc.)
  • Intend to establish residency in North Carolina
  • Be eligible for and using Chapter 30 (Montgomery G.I. Bill Active Duty Education Assistance Program) or Chapter 33 (Post-9/11 Educational Assistance) U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits or the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship

To apply, use the appropriate application form, 'Veteran's Choice Act Residency Form'. The application and required documentation must be submitted to the Office of the Admissions by the beginning of the semester the student is applying to.

Questions may be directed to

Grace Period: If a person (1) has been a bona fide legal resident of the required duration, (2) has consequently been classified a resident for tuition purposes, and (3) has subsequently lost North Carolina legal residence while enrolled at a public institution of higher education, that person may continue to enjoy the in-state tuition rate for a grace period of twelve months measured from the date on which North Carolina legal residence was lost. If the twelve months end during an academic term for which the person is enrolled at a state institution of higher education, the grace period extends to the end of that term. The fact of marriage to one who continues domicile outside North Carolina does not by itself cause loss of legal residence marking the beginning of the grace period. This benefit provision may be granted one time only.

Change of Status: A student admitted to initial enrollment in an institution (or permitted to reenroll following an absence from the institutional program which involved a formal withdrawal from enrollment) must be classified by the admitting institution either as a resident or as a nonresident for tuition purposes prior to actual enrollment. A residence status classification once assigned (and finalized pursuant to any appeal properly taken) may be changed thereafter (with corresponding change in billing rates) only at intervals corresponding with the established primary division of the academic year.

Transfer Students: When a student transfers from one North Carolina public institution of higher education to another, he or she is treated as a new student by the institution to which he or she is transferring and must be assigned an initial residence status classification for tuition purposes.

Appeal: The initial classification of undergraduate students as in-state or out-of-state residents for tuition purposes is made by the Office of Admissions. Appeals for in-state status may be made to the campus appeals body. University regulations governing residential classification of students are set forth in detail in A Manual to Assist the Public Higher Education Institutions of North Carolina in the Matter of Student Residence Classification for Tuition Purposes. Each enrolled student is responsible for knowing the contents of this manual. Copies of the manual are available for inspection upon request in the undergraduate Admissions Office and in Randall Library.


The following documentation does not guarantee a residency change, but may strengthen your request for in-state residency. A residency application is strengthened by the inclusion of copies of the oldest residentiary acts. Attach copies of documents to the "Application for Classification as a Legal Resident (Domiciliary) of North Carolina for Tuition Purposes"

Submit COPIES, not originals, of the documentation with the application. Once the Office of Admissions has received your application, we CANNOT provide you copies of any part of your application.

  • Copy of NC Driver's license.
  • Copy of NC vehicle registration.
  • Copy of NC voter registration.
  • Copy of NC income tax returns; include copy of parent's tax return if you are under age 24.
  • Evidence that you filed personal property or real property returns.
  • Year-to-date cumulative wage earnings statements from all jobs held for the current year and/or for the past 12 months.
  • Documents of residence for the past 12 months (i.e., lease/notarized statement from landlord).
  • Evidence of employment, i.e., correspondence from employer(s) confirming date of employment, and/or means of financial support (i.e., student loans, scholarships, etc.)
  • If applicant has not been 100% self-supporting during the last 24 months, a completed statement is required.
  • Marriage certificate, if residency is being based upon the spouse's residentiary acts, and copies of the spouse's residentiary acts.
  • Evidence of membership in community professional associations, unions, church, or other organizations.
  • If applicant is a minor, parents or legal guardian(s) must produce evidence of their domicile (legal place of residence).
  • Copy of court appointed legal guardianship.
  • A copy of parent's tax returns for the previous year if applicant is under 24 years of age.
  • If you are an alien, you must provide a copy of your residence status document issued by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

Preponderance of the Evidence

The Residency Committee reviews all the evidence provided with an application for in-state residence status. The preponderance (or greater weight) of the evidence must support the establishment of a North Carolina domicile for at least twelve (12) months before the beginning of the academic term (first day of classes) for which residence status is requested. If the evidence shows a cluster of significant events occurring around the same time (within the same week, for example), the Committee will start counting from that point to determine if the twelve (12) month requirement has been met.

If, instead, the evidence has gradually accumulated over time, the Committee must decide at what point a preponderance of the evidence shows an intent to establish a North Carolina domicile, and that is the date on which the twelve-month period will begin. If this date is less than twelve (12) months before the first day of classes for the term specified on the application, the Committee will be unable to classify you as a resident for tuition purposes for the term in question.


Only accepted UNCW students may apply for Residency for Tuition Purposes. Once you are fully accepted and considered an out-of-state resident, and after you have reviewed the requirements and think you qualify, then you may apply by completing the Residency Form for review.

The Residency Form must be filled out entirely and must be accompanied by COPIES of the residentiary acts and supporting documents. Students must submit the appropriate original Residency Form. The applicant is encouraged to keep a copy of the Residency Form for personal records. Omission of any of the requested documentation and/or failure to fill out the Residency Form in its entirety will necessitate the return of the Residency Form to the student.

A decision on residency status will be mailed in approximately two to three weeks from the date of the receipt of a complete form. If denied NC residency for tuition purposes, an appeal decision is possible. Please note that you have 20 working days from the date of the letter to appeal the decision. Appeals can be made by contacting the Chair of the Residency Appeals Board ( Students should read the Manual to Assist the Public Higher Education Institutions of North Carolina in the Matter of Student Residence Classification for Tuition Purposes (also located on Reserve in the Randall Library, for additional information).

Note: All residency inquiries for currently enrolled undergraduate students are handled through the Office of the Registrar.