North Carolina’s colleges and universities charge higher tuition to students who are residents of other states. Laws passed by the state’s General Assembly govern the process for determining North Carolina residency requirements for the purpose of higher education tuition. Like most states, North Carolina adopts its residency policy based on its responsibility to provide low-cost educational opportunities to its residents. North Carolina General Statute Section 116-143.1 provides the legal basis and process for determining residency in relation to tuition at the state’s colleges and universities. It also provides the legal basis and process for determining residency in relation to tuition at the state’s colleges and universities.

Establish Your Domicile in North Carolina

First, establish your domicile in North Carolina. A residence may be temporary. However, according to the governing statute, a domicile is a permanent home. Under the NC statutes, you might have several residences, but only one domicile that the state of North Carolina considers your legal residence. Domicile is established by birth, law or choice. Keep in mind that maintaining a domicile in North Carolina for 12 months does not guarantee you in-state tuition; education institutions evaluate each situation and render independent decisions about residency. Students who leave North Carolina and then return to establish domicile within a 12-month period may be granted residency status for in state tuition requirements under a one-time provision.

Demonstrate North Carolina Residency Requirements

Next, demonstrate that you have lived in your North Carolina domicile or legal residence for at least 12 uninterrupted months. North Carolina proof of residency is required showing that you have not maintained a domicile in the state strictly for the purpose of college enrollment. The 12-month period begins with the establishment of specific and verifiable domiciliary acts.

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Verify Independent Student Status

If necessary, verify that you are an independent student who has established your legal residence separate from your parents or legal guardians. North Carolina law assumes that a student’s legal residence is the same as that of his parents or legal guardians. Older, independent students may more easily prove residency separate from that of their out-of-state parents or legal guardians. Individuals who have lived independently in North Carolina for at least five consecutive years before enrolling in a college or university may be considered legal residents.

Provide Residency Requirement Proof

Provide proof that you meet North Carolina residency requirements in another legally acceptable manner if you do not meet the 12-month maintenance of domicile requirement. A nonresident who marries a legal North Carolina resident may satisfy the 12-month requirement. Members of the armed forces who serve outside of the state do not lose their legal residency. Nonresident members of North Carolina National Guard units are eligible for in-state tuition. Emancipated minors and individuals who reach 18 years of age before enrolling in college may be considered legal residents based on their residency in North Carolina with parents or relatives. Employees of the University of North Carolina and their children are considered residents for tuition purposes.

About the Author

Gail Sessoms, a grant writer and nonprofit consultant, writes about nonprofit, small business and personal finance issues. She volunteers as a court-appointed child advocate, has a background in social services and writes about issues important to families. Sessoms holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies.