One of the factors on which college tuition primarily depends is the student's state of residency. While private schools don't usually have lower tuition fees for local residents, public universities can charge a non-resident a higher fee compared to a local resident who qualifies for in-state tuition fees. You need to take steps in order to qualify for in-state university fees and avail of lower college tuition costs.

Establish residency by living in the state for 1 year and legally be permitted to live in the United States. Each state may have different residency laws; Tennessee, for instance, doesn't have a durational requirement. Continuous presence of 1 year is the minimum for most states.

Declare financial independence if over 24 years of age. Those who will be over 24 years of age must also satisfy self-sufficiency requirements in addition to being a resident in the state. You can satisfy self-sufficiency requirements by being single and claiming yourself as independent from your parents' taxes.

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Form ties in the state where you want to be a resident. In addition to physically living in the state for a year, you also need to express intent to be a resident of the state. This may include joining local organizations, gainful employment in the state, opening a bank account, registering your car or buying a house.

Apply for a state ID. Applying for a state ID helps in expressing intent to become a resident of the state. You may apply for a state ID at the local Department of Motor Vehicles or at the Secretary of State office. Fill out an application, pay the state's fee and receive your state ID.

Fill out the Statement of Legal Residence form. The name of this form varies from state to state and from university to university. This form is needed to qualify for in-state tuition fees and confirms that you are a resident of the state. Your school will determine whether or not you qualify, and you may need to present some documents as proof. They may ask for a combination of these documents, so make sure that you have car or voter registration, income tax returns with an in-state residential address, records of attending secondary school in the state, state driver's license, home ownership in the state, local bank account, records of full-time employment in the state and local civic group, or club involvement.


There are certain situations where you may be eligible for in-state tuition if you or a family member is a member of the military, if you are a high school graduate in the state or if you are a child of a university faculty member.

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