Determination of Residency for Tuition Purposes
How do I qualify as an in-state resident for tuition purposes?
Residency for tuition purposes is defined and solely controlled by regulations of the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education. In order to qualify under the regulations, an individual must be able to demonstrate an established intent to reside permanently or indefinitely in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are numerous factors that may be considered in determining whether or not an individual has this appropriate intent.
What does "domicile" mean?
"Domicile" is a legal term that is defined as the place where an individual intends to remain and live permanently or indefinitely. It is the place where a person intends to return to after any absence. A person may live in a place for temporary purposes, such as a vacation or attending college. Once the goal of the temporary purpose is accomplished, however, the person does not intend to remain in that place. Since the person's presence is only for temporary reasons, the individual cannot be considered an in-state resident for tuition purposes.
How can I show that I intend to live in Pennsylvania either permanently or indefinitely?
Because the intent to reside in-state is subjective, only you can know your true intent. Your actions and conduct, however, can demonstrate to others whether you possess such intent. You alone have the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that you possess the requisite intent to reside in Pennsylvania either permanently or indefinitely. Based upon the evidence that you submit or that may otherwise be available, a university administrator or committee will decide whether it is more likely than not that you intend to remain in Pennsylvania on a permanent or indefinite basis. Your overall conduct and actions will be reviewed and no single factor can demonstrate the appropriate intent to remain living in state.
A decision will be made by looking at your total circumstances as to whether your conduct and actions show that you are not merely living in Pennsylvania for the temporary purpose of attending college. There is no checklist of conduct or actions that will automatically result in anyone being reclassified as an in-state resident. In an application for classification, you will, however, be asked a number of questions. The items of information requested are not equally demonstrative of one's intent to reside in Pennsylvania. Certain actions can be easily taken, although a person only intends to temporarily reside in Pennsylvania. Thus, it will be the quality and not the quantity of information you submit that will lead to a determination.
Among the information you will be requested to submit for review is the following:
- Do you have financial aid based upon maintaining a residency in a state other than Pennsylvania?
- Do you lease or own a permanent, independent residence in Pennsylvania?
- Do you pay Pennsylvania and local taxes, particularly during temporary absences from the state?
- Have you transferred bank accounts, stock, automobiles and other registered property in state?
- Did you obtain a Pennsylvania driver's license and register your automobile in Pennsylvania?
- Do you have permanent, full-time employment in Pennsylvania?
- Do you have memberships in social, civic, political, athletic and religious organizations in state?
This list of questions should not be considered a checklist, nor are you limited to furnishing only the information requested on an application for classification form. The questions here and on the form are only intended to give an indication of the type of action or conduct that can be considered in deciding residency status. You have the opportunity to provide any and all evidence that you believe supports your position that you intend to reside in Pennsylvania on a permanent or indefinite basis. In particular, you will want to demonstrate that your presence in the state is not merely for the purpose of attending college.
If I have not lived in Pennsylvania for 12 months prior to registering as a college or university student, can I still establish residency for tuition purposes?
If you have continuously resided in Pennsylvania for a period of twelve months prior to enrolling in a Pennsylvania institution of higher education, you are presumed to be a Pennsylvania resident. But, if you have resided in Pennsylvania for a shorter period of time, there is a presumption that you are not a Pennsylvania resident. This is not a conclusive presumption, however, only a rebuttable presumption. This means that the presumption may be overcome by demonstrating through clear and convincing evidence your intent to reside in the state on a permanent or indefinite basis. In order to establish Pennsylvania residency, you will have to show evidence that sufficiently convinces a reasonable person that it is more likely true than not that you are in fact residing permanently or indefinitely in Pennsylvania. Your evidence should prove that you are not in Pennsylvania solely to attend college.
I have lived in Pennsylvania for 12 months, why was I classified as an out-of-state student?
You will continue to be classified as an out-of-state student for as long as you are unable to prove that you intend to reside permanently or indefinitely in Pennsylvania. If your circumstances show that you are merely in Pennsylvania to attend college, you will not be reclassified to in-state status. Certain factors, such as temporary summer or part-time school year employment in Pennsylvania, are not significant factors and are merely a consequence of your primary purpose to attend college.
I am 20 years old and am registered to vote, why does the university still consider me to be a minor?
Residency for tuition purposes is completely controlled by the regulations of the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education. The regulations specifically state that the age of majority for the determination of residency for tuition purposes is twenty-two years of age. Other laws, such as voter registration, may have a different age for obtaining majority status, but these laws do not apply to determinations of residency for tuition purposes.
May I ask the university to re-classify me as an in-state student?
Yes, if you are unsatisfied with the original classification determination by the university, you may challenge it by filing a written petition stating the reasons for your claim of in-state status with the appropriate university administrator or committee. This must be done within 30 days of the original determination. You will also have to provide a notarized reclassification data form for the university to consider your petition.
You may also petition for the university to review your classification in a subsequent year of enrollment, but only if there has been some significant change of circumstances that would indicate that you have established the intent to permanently or indefinitely reside in Pennsylvania. This means that you must be able to show that your purpose for continuing to be in Pennsylvania is not solely to attend school. Factors such as temporary employment or a change in family circumstances will generally not be considered a significant change in circumstances to change a classification.
If I disagree with the university's determination, may I file an appeal?
If you continue to disagree with the university's determination of your classification, you may make a written appeal to the Office of the Chancellor within 30 days of the date that the university's decision is mailed to you. The Office of the Chancellor will designate a hearing officer to review the appeal and make recommendations for the Chancellor's decision. You, as well as the university, will be permitted to submit additional information to be considered and a written argument to support your position. The Chancellor's written decision on appeal will be decided within 90 days of receipt of your appeal and will be the final decision within the State System of Higher Education.