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Residence for Tuition Purposes: Q&A

Get answers to your questions about establishing residence for tuition purposes.

The following questions and answers assume the inquirer is a U.S. citizen or eligible alien. Click a link to read questions grouped into these three categories:

Reclaiming California residence

Q: I was born in California, but my family moved away a couple of years ago. I attend high school out of state where my family lives, but my parents still own a house in California on which they pay property taxes. Does this qualify me as a resident?

A: If you are an unmarried minor (under age 18), the residence of the parent with whom you live will be considered your residence. Owning property in California is not enough to qualify you or your parents as California residents for tuition purposes.

If your parents were once California residents and they consider their absence to be temporary, the burden is on your parents to verify that they did nothing inconsistent with their claim of a continuing California residence during their absence. See Temporary Absences for information about retaining California residence during absences.

If your parents are no longer California residents, you must demonstrate financial independence, meet the current 366-day physical presence requirement as an adult, and meet intent requirements.

Q: I am a 24-year-old UC graduate student who left California to pursue another degree out of state. While I was in school in California, I was considered a resident. Am I still a resident?

A: Your temporary absence from the state for business, pleasure, or educational purposes will not result in loss of California residence unless during your absence you acted inconsistently with a claim of California residence.

Q: I am a 17-year-old senior in a California high school. My family moved to California from another country in 1989 when we were granted permanent resident status. Early in 1993 my parents moved back to our former country to live and work, leaving me and my older brothers in California. My brothers and I are financially dependent on our parents. My parents own the home we live in and pay Los Angeles County property taxes. Will I be a resident for tuition purposes?

A: No, since you are a minor and your parents are no longer California residents. Unless you are married, the residence of your parent with whom you live or last lived is considered to be your residence. If you have a parent living, you cannot change your residence by your own act, by the appointment of a legal guardian, or by the relinquishment of your parent's right of control.

If you are not the dependent of a California resident parent, you will be required to demonstrate financial independence, meet the current 366-day physical presence requirement as an adult, and meet intent requirements.

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Financial independence

Q: My parents moved out of California a couple of years ago when I was 19. They are now residents of another state. I stayed in California, but I am still financially dependent on my parents. I am worried about the financial independence requirement. How will this affect me?

A: Financial independence will not be a factor in residence determination if your parents were California residents when you reached the age of majority (18), provided you have remained in California.

Q: I am a 20-year-old single undergraduate student who is financially independent. What types of documents do I need to prove financial independence?

A: To verify financial independence (self-support), you need to provide copies of your state and federal income tax returns along with your parents' returns verifying that you were not claimed as an exemption for the previous tax year prior to your request for residence classification.

In addition, you must present a budget showing how you are able to support yourself with the funds you claim. See the answer to the next question for types of funds you can use to support a claim for financial independence.

Q: What is "self-support"?

A: Self-support is defined as money you have earned through your own employment or loans obtained on your own credit, without a cosigner. Financial aid loans obtained without a cosigner can be considered in your income. A bank loan made to your parent who turns over the funds to you would not constitute self-support. A bank loan made to you with a parent or other adult cosigning would not constitute self-support. In most cases, a gift to you from a parent, grandparent, or other family member would not constitute self-support.

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Q: I am a nonresident student at UCSD and will be trying to obtain residence next year. I meet the financial independence requirement and have established ties with California that will be a year old by the time I wish to be a resident. I have a terrific job working in my previous state during summers, holiday vacations, etc. If I return to work there, how will this affect my residence petition?

A: If you return to your former place of residence (outside of California), you will be presumed to be in California solely for educational purposes and only strong evidence to the contrary will rebut this presumption. A student who is in the state solely for educational purposes will not be classified as a resident for tuition purposes regardless of the length of stay.

Q: I'm classified as a resident of California at the community college I attend. Does that mean I will automatically be considered a resident at UCSD.

A: Some students transferring from California community colleges or from a California State University who where classified as residents there may be classified as nonresidents at UCSD for various reasons. Most often it is because their parents are from out of state and the students don't meet the University of California's requirements for financial independence.

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