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State Residency Requirements for Student Aid

State Residency Requirements for Student Aid


Each state has different residency requirements for a student to be eligible for state grants and in-state tuition. The state of legal residence also is used on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the allowances for “state and other taxes paid” by the student and the student’s parents.

If a student is a dependent, the student’s state of legal residence generally will be based on the state of legal residence of the student’s custodial parents. In all states, a student who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is considered a resident of the state if he or she has lived in the state for five or more years.

Many states, however, base state residency on a shorter period of time, typically one year of continuous residence prior to enrollment. Some states have exceptions for children of active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

If a student has resided in the state for less than five years, the student will be asked to provide the date he or she became a resident of the state on the FAFSA.

Most states require 12 consecutive months or a full calendar year prior to enrollment for the student to be eligible for in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges. There are, however, a few exceptions:

  • Alaska requires 24 months
  • Arkansas requires 6 months
  • Tennessee does not have a specific minimum duration
  • California requires one year, which is defined as 366 days

Most states also require students to demonstrate an intent to become a state resident. Evidence of this intent can include:

  • State driver’s license
  • Registering a car in the state, including insurance cards, not just DMV registration
  • Registering to vote in the state
  • Opening bank accounts in the state
  • Paying state income tax as a resident (including on income earned outside the state)
  • Renting an apartment or buying a home in the state
  • Obtaining local library cards
  • Obtaining memberships with local merchants (gym, grocery and pharmacy cards)
  • Religious affiliations with a local church, synagogue or mosque
  • Utility bills with a local address (telephone, gas, electricity, cable TV and water bills)
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