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

In order for your residency determination to affect the tuition rate for your current term at UNCW, your RDS Reconsideration request must be complete (all data and documentation turned in) and your request submitted with an RDS effective date on, or before, the 14th calendar day of the current semester, starting with the first day of classes for the semester. Reconsideration requests completed and submitted with an RDS effective date after the 14th calendar day affect the tuition rate for subsequent terms, not the current term. Please refer to this calendar of events to determine the "classes begin" day for the semester under reconsideration: