The Graduate School

UNCW Flagpole

North Carolina Residency Information

In compliance with state law, the University of North Carolina system now requires students to request a residency classification from the new Residency Determination Service (RDS). RDS is the entity responsible for all new classifications of residency in North Carolina. 

The specific requirements for establishing residency for tuition purposes and for eligibility for State financial aid are prescribed by state law.  A North Carolina resident for tuition purposes (and for State financial aid consideration) is a person, or a dependent person (dependent according to IRS tax code – not the FAFSA definition of dependency), whose parent or legal guardian has established and maintained legal residence in North Carolina for at least 12 months. 

Residence in North Carolina must be legitimate and be a permanent situation rather than just for the purpose of maintaining a residence prior to enrollment at an institution of higher education.

To learn more about residency and/or complete a determination go to

Under North Carolina law, to qualify for in-state residency, you must show that you:

  • Have established your legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina, and
  • Have maintained that domicile for at least twelve (12) consecutive months before the beginning of the term, and
  • Have a residentiary presence in the state, and
  • Intend to make North Carolina your permanent home indefinitely (rather than being in North Carolina solely to attend college). 

Persons not meeting the 12-month legal residence requirement may be classified as North Carolina residents for tuition purposes only if they fall within one of the limited “exception” categories authorized by the North Carolina Legislature. All others are ineligible for classification as a North Carolina “resident for tuition purposes” and will be charged out-of-state tuition and not be given consideration for State financial aid. To learn more about residency and complete a determination go to

Your residency for tuition purposes status at UNCW will be updated when your in-state determination is electronically communicated by RDS to the Graduate School. The determination must have completed RDS validation to be processed.  For the change in status to be applied to the current term, the determination must have an RDS-assigned effective date on or before the 30th calendar day of the term from the start of classes for regular semesters or the 10th calendar day for summer semesters.  Determinations with effective dates after the cut-off day for the current semester will go into effect for the following semester. Please refer to this calendar of events for upcoming change deadlines:

RDS Residency Application

Veteran's Choice Act for Graduate Students

Military affiliated students may qualify to use the Choice Act to pay the equivalent of in-state tuition at UNCW.

Students who may qualify for use of the benefit include:

  • Veterans who are entering UNCW within three years of separation and using VA benefits (Three year limitation will be removed on August 1, 2021)
  • Dependents of veterans who are using transferred benefits
  • Dependents of active duty personnel who are using transferred benefits
  • Recipients of the Fry Scholarship
  • Veteran Readiness and Employment (Chapter 31) students have their eligibility for the benefit certified through the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.
  • Additional information on requirements and needed documentation are found on the online application.

Veteran's Choice Act Info & Application