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Criteria to Establish Residence

Learn about UC's criteria for determining who is a California resident for tuition purposes.

Who is a California resident?

If you are an adult student (at least 18 years old), you can establish residence for tuition purposes in California if:

  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You are a permanent resident or other immigrant, or
  • You are a nonimmigrant who is not precluded from establishing a domicile in the United States. Nonimmigrants who are not precluded from establishing domicile in the U.S. include those who hold valid visas of the following types: A, E, G, H1, H4, I, K, L, O1, O3, R, or V
  • You have been conferred lawful presence in the U.S. through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and hold an approved I-821D.

To establish residence for tuition purposes, you must satisfy 3 conditions:

  1. Physical presence
  2. Intent to become a California resident
  3. Financial independence

1) Physical presence

You must be physically present in California for more than one year (366 days) immediately prior to the residence determination date of the term for which resident classification is requested. You must have come here with the intent to make California your home as opposed to coming to this state to go to school.

Physical presence within the state solely for educational purposes doesn't constitute the establishment of California residence, regardless of the length of your stay. A student who leaves California after establishing residence must demonstrate that he/she intended to remain a California resident, and that his/her principal place of residence has been in California. It's the burden of the student to clearly demonstrate retention of California residence during periods of absence from the state.

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2) Intent to become a California resident

Demonstrate through objective documentation that your physical presence was coupled with the intent to make California your permanent home. Intent is evaluated as an independent element of residence, separate from physical presence, and is demonstrated by establishing residential ties in California, and relinquishing ties to the former place of residence.

You must demonstrate your intention to make California your home by severing your residential ties with your former state of residence and establishing those ties with California by the relevant deadlines. Please be advised that intent is subject to applicable dates and deadlines, which can be found on our Filing Dates and Deadlines page. If these steps are delayed, the one-year duration period will be extended until you have demonstrated both presence and intent for one full year. 

Indications of your intent to make California your permanent residence include:

  • California driver's license or a California ID Card
  • Voter registration card or affidavit from Registrar of Voters
  • California-based bank accounts or CA branches based in other states
  • California car registration and car insurance card
  • Paying California income taxes as a resident, including taxes on income earned outside California
  • Housing contracts, monthly rental agreements, lease or proof of property ownership in California
  • Credit and memberships with California merchants, religious affiliations, clubs, gyms
  • Proof of your belongings moved into California such as moving van, bill of lading
  • Proof of utilities established in your name such as phone, gas, electric, and cable TV
  • Designating California as your permanent address on all school, employment, and/or military records

Your intent will be questioned if you return to your former state of residence when the university is not in session. Documentary evidence is required and all relevant indications will be considered in determining your classification.

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3) Financial independence

Students under age 24 who didn't attend the university prior to fall 1993 and are not dependent on California resident parent(s) who meets the university's requirements for residence for tuition purposes (one year physical presence with intent to remain in the state), also must meet the university's financial independence requirement in addition to the 366-day physical presence and intent requirements.

Note: This requirement makes it extremely difficult for most undergraduates who do not have a parent living in California to qualify for classification as a resident at a UC campus. This includes transfer students from community colleges and other post-secondary schools in California.

Financial independence will be implied for residence determination if you meet one of the following criteria. You:

  • Have natural or adoptive parent(s), upon whom you are financially dependent, who meet the requirements for California residence for purposes of tuition and fees, or
  • Are at least 24 years of age by Dec. 31 of the academic year of the term for which classification is requested, or
  • Are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, or
  • Are a ward of the court or both parents are deceased, or
  • Have a legal dependent other than a spouse or registered domestic partner, or
  • Are a married student, or a registered domestic partner, or a graduate student or professional student, or
  • Are a graduate or professional school student, or
  • You reached the age of majority (18 years) in California while your parents were residents (for tuition purposes) of this state AND California resident parents leave the state to establish a residence elsewhere, AND you continue to reside in the state of California after the parents' departure.

You are considered financially independent if you meet all of the following criteria. You:

  • Are unmarried, and
  • Were not claimed as an income tax dependent by any individual for the previous tax year immediately preceding the term for which resident classification is requested, and
  • Are self-sufficient. The student has supported themselves for one full year prior to the residence determination date of the term the student proposes to attend the University through the student's own resources, such as employment, commercial/institutional loans in the student's name only, financial aid and saving from earnings, all of which require official documentation (note: the one year required for self-support must not coincide with the one tax year the student was claimed by any individual.  Budget Worksheet (PDF) 
    • To verify financial independence (self-sufficiency/ self-support), the student must document their income and verify that they were not claimed as an exemption by parents or anyone else for the previous year prior to the request for residence.
    • The student is also required to present a budget showing how they are able to be supported by the funds claimed.
    • Self-support is defined as money which can be officially documented that the student has earned through his or her own employment, commercial loans, financial aid, savings and/ or other loans obtained with the student's own credit, without a cosigner. Parent PLUS loans cannot be considered self-support.
    • Loans or gifts from relatives, associates, or friends, regardless of the terms, are considered financial assistance and cannot be included as student income when determining self-support. Non-institutional loans or funds that are “gifted” to the student by a relative, associate, or friend, through a “college fund,” savings, trust, or other financial vehicle, will not be considered if the funds were established after the student’s 14th birthday.
    • If the student's income is a trust account established prior to the student’s 14th birthday, the student must also verify that he or she has complete control of the trust, that the funds available at the time of origination were sufficient to allow the student to be entirely self-supporting, and that the trust has been in use to support the student. Copies of yearly beginning balances, withdrawals, deposits, and ending balances of the trust account(s) will be required. Non-verifiable income cannot be considered.
    • Residing in California with an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or friend who provides the student with room and board cannot be considered self-support, even if that person meets the UC residence requirement. "Bartering" for free room and board or other services or necessities will be considered financial assistance.

The financial independence requirement will not be a factor in residence determination if you are a student who is financially dependent upon a California resident parent who meets the university's requirements for residence for tuition purposes (one year physical presence with intent to remain in the state). Please note, if your parents are not permanently separated or divorced, both parents must be present in California.

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Contact the Residence Deputy. No other University personnel are authorized to supply information relative to residence requirements for tuition.