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 (45 days Fall 2020 10/02/2020 and Spring 2021 02/24/2021) 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:

Veteran's Choice Act for Graduate Students

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

Upon request you must submit:

  • Veteran's Choice Act Form
  • DD214 
  • Proof of Abode in North Carolina
  • Proof of GI Bill Eligibility