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California Residency Requirements

The State of California requires colleges, and universities to determine whether students are California Residents or nonresidents for tuition purposes. Students are asked a series of residency question when, applying for admission. How students answer those questions determines whether they are classified as a resident or nonresident.

  1. Resident:  A California resident for tuition purposes, is a person who has resided in California for at least one year and one day prior to the start of the term, and has demonstrated an intent to make California their permanent home. EC § 68017

  2. Nonresident:  A nonresident for tuition purposes is a student who has not resided in California for more than one year before the start of the term. 

Why is residency important to you?

Most public colleges, and universities charge residents less than nonresidents to attend. Residency is also one of the factors that determines whether students qualify for certain types financial aid.

In the Los Angeles Community College District here are the cost differences for students based on their residency classification.  

Classification

Home of Residence

Enrollment Fee

Nonresident Tuition Fee

Resident

California

$46/ per unit

None

Out-of-State Nonresident

Another U.S. State

$46/ per unit

$265/per unit

Out-of-Country Nonresident

Citizen and resident of a foreign country

$46/ per unit

$282/per unit

 

How do I become a California Resident?

In order to be reclassified as a California resident, for tuition purposes, the Supplemental Residency Questionnaire and supporting documents must illustrate:

  1. Federal eligibility to reside in the United States for more than one year prior to the Residency Determination Date (RDD). 
  2. Physical Presence in California for more than one year prior to the RDD.
  3. Intent to make California their permanent home for more than one year prior to the RDD.

 

Filing a Residency Appeal

 To appeal your initial residency determination, you must submit a Supplemental Residency Questionnaire (SRQ) along with supporting documents including documents that determine whether you are financially independent.

 

To request your residency be reclassification, please:

  1. Download and complete a Supplemental Residency Questionnaire (SRQ). 
  2. Collect and attach at least two forms of proof of residency that are one year and one day old (a list of qualifying forms of proof is listed in the SRQ.)
  3. Email your SRQ and residency documentation to residency@lavc.edu.
  4. If you received notification that you may qualify for AB 540, please also attach an AB 540 Affidavit

 

Nonresident Tuition Exemptions:

  1. K-12 Students: Colleges must exempt all qualifying nonresident special “part-time” K-12 students from nonresident tuition fees except students on B, F, and M Visas.

 

  1. AB 540 Students: Community college districts are required to exempt eligible students from nonresident tuition if they meet all of the following conditions:

Attendance at California Schools (the requirement may be met in two ways)

  • Total attendance (or attainment of credits earned) in California equivalent to three or more years of full-time attendance at California high schools, California adult schools, campuses of the California Community Colleges, or a combination of these; or
  • Three or more years of full-time high school coursework in California, and a total of three or more years of attendance in California elementary schools and/or California secondary schools.

Note: Attendance in credit courses at a California community college counted toward this requirement shall not exceed a total of two years of full-time attendance.

Requirement 1: Completion of a Course of Study

This requirement may be met in any of the following ways:

  1. Graduation from a California high school or equivalent; or
  2. Attainment of an associate degree from a California community college; or
  3. Fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements established for the University of California or the California State University for students transferring from a California community college

Requirement 2: Registration.

Requires registration as an entering student at, or current enrollment at, an accredited institution of higher education in California. (Ed. Code, § 68130.5, subd. (a)(3).)

 

Requirement 3: Affidavit of student without lawful immigration status.

Students without lawful immigration status must file an affidavit with their college or university stating that the student has either filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so. (Ed. Code, § 68130.5, subd. (a)(4).)

Note: Attendance in credit courses at a California community college counted toward this requirement shall not exceed a total of two years of full-time attendance.

Requirement 4: Completion of a Course of Study

This requirement can be met in any of the following ways:

• Graduation from a California high school or equivalent; or

• Attainment of an associate degree from a California community college; or

• Fulfillment of the minimum transfer requirements established for the University of California or the California State University for students transferring from a California community college

Requirement 5: Registration. Requires registration as an entering student at, or current enrollment at, an accredited institution of higher education in California. (Ed. Code, § 68130.5, subd. (a)(3).)

Requirement 6: Affidavit of student without lawful immigration status. Students without lawful immigration status must file an affidavit with their college or university stating that the student has either filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so. (Ed. Code, § 68130.5, subd. (a)(4).)

  1. Students taking only noncredit course are exempt from nonresident tuition.

 

  1. DACA Students:
    • Students granted the “Deferred Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) status
    • Noncitizens seeking a change to a visa category that permits establishing residency under (a)(2) or seeking DACA status under(a)(3),
    • “The benefit is available to all U.S. Citizens, permanent residents of the U.S., and aliens who are not nonimmigrants (including those who are undocumented), who meet all other eligibility so criteria.
    • DACA does not confer lawful immigration status, it is a discretionary determination to defer removal action.
    • Students under DACA status are considered by DHS to be lawfully present in the United States during the period of deferred actions
    • Students in DACA status are eligible for the Nonresident Tuition Waiver
    • DACA Students are NOT nonimmigrants..

Are military personnel and their dependents still entitled to resident classification?

Yes, but the law changed somewhat effective January 1, 2013, to allow for a longer period of residence classification for discharged members of the military stationed in California.  Additionally, for dependents of active duty military members, effective January 1, 2018, being “admitted to” a community college is also an appropriate basis for granting the residency exception for this group of students (see “DEPENDENTS OF ACTIVE MILITARY MEMBERS” section below).  See also discussion below related to law changes concerning nonresident veterans and in-state tuition eligibility (SB 85 approved by Governor Brown on June 27, 2017, which, among other things, modified Education Code section 68075.7 to reflect changes in related federal law).  

 

MILITARY STUDENTS STATIONED IN CA EC 68075; T5 54042; LEGAL OPINION 10-05

Students who are members of the armed forces of the United States domiciled or stationed in California as of the residence determination date are entitled to resident classification for purposes of determining the amount of tuition and fees for the duration of their attendance at a community college. For purposes of this section, “Armed Forces of the United States” means the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and the reserve components of each of those forces, the California National Guard, the California State Military Reserve, and the California Naval Militia.  If that member of the armed forces of the United States who is in attendance at an institution is thereafter transferred on military orders to a place outside this state where the member continues to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States, he or she shall not lose his or her resident classification so long as he or she remains continuously enrolled at that community college.  Please note that exclusions or limitations from residency classification for active duty military students related to students “seeking a graduate degree” or “members of the armed forces who were assigned for educational purposes to state-supported institutions of higher education” are no longer applicable under the current statute and federal law.  --- 

 

See Legal Opinion 10-05, which analyzes the effect of the 2008 reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) on tuition rates for members of the armed forces on active duty, their spouses, and dependent children.  As indicated in Legal Opinion 10-05, the federal law changes in the HEOA have broadened the applicable situations in which a member of the armed forces and his or her dependents may receive the benefit of state resident status for purpose of tuition and fees, including where the military member is “domiciled” in this state, but not stationed in California on active duty.

 

DEPENDENTS OF ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY MEMBERS                                 EC 68074; T5 54041

A student who is a natural or adopted child, stepchild, or spouse and who is a dependent of a member of the armed forces of the United States domiciled or stationed in California on active duty is entitled to resident classification for the purposes of determining the amount of tuition and fees.  There is no limitation on the length of the resident classification.  If that member of the armed forces, whose dependent is in attendance at, or has been admitted to (“admitted to” basis added by AB 172 (Chavez, 2017)  and effective January 1, 2018), a community college, is thereafter transferred on military orders to a place outside this state where the member continues on active duty or is thereafter retired as an active member of the armed forces of the United States, the student dependent shall not lose his or her resident classification so long as he or she remains continuously enrolled at that community college.  As noted above, see Legal Opinion 10-05.

 

DISCHARGED MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES              EC 68075.5; T5 54041

A student who was a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in California on active duty for more than one year immediately prior to being discharged shall be exempt from paying nonresident tuition for up to one year if he or she files an affidavit with the community college stating that he or she intends to establish residency in California as soon as possible.  This one year exemption shall be used while the student lives in this state and within two years of being discharged (effective January 1, 2013, AB 2478 amended Education Code section 68075.5 to give the student two years to start the one year exemption period as the student may need to temporarily to return to their home state after discharge and may not be able to immediately start their education in California).  A former member of the armed forces of the United States who received a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge shall not be eligible for this exemption.

 

NONRESIDENT VETERANS   AB 81 (APPROVED BY GOVERNOR JUNE 24, 2015); SB 85 (APPROVED BY GOVERNOR JUNE 27, 2017)

In August 2014, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACA Act) was signed into federal law (updated in 2016 by Public Law 114-315).  This required the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to disapprove programs of education under the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefit programs (Chapters 30 or 33, respectively, of Title 38, U.S. Code) at public institutions of higher learning if the school charges qualifying nonresident veterans and other qualifying individuals (“covered individuals”) tuition and fees in excess of the in-state rate for resident students for terms beginning after July 1, 2015 therefore, California Community Colleges proceeded to implement  “in-state” rates for “covered individuals” effective for academic terms beginning after July, 1 2015 as required by enacted Education Code section 68075.7 (AB 81, 2015; SB 85, 2017).  For the specific criteria for determining eligibility for “covered individual status” and other VACA Act implementation guidance, please refer to the linked August 4, 2017 Chancellor’s Office VACA Act memorandum.  Please note the VACA Act was further amended in September 2018 by Pub.L. No 115-251, which added a new category of covered individuals. The new category includes individuals eligible for rehabilitation under 38 U.S. Code § 3102 pursuing a course of education with education assistance from the Training and Rehabilitation for Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities (Chapter 31) education benefits program. The CCCCO is currently working to amend Education Code section 68075.7 to reflect the change in federal law. In the meantime, districts should refer to the federal statute (38 U.S.C. 3679(c)) for the complete list of covered individuals under the VACA Act. The change was effective for courses or terms beginning after March 1, 2019, however, on March 4, 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a waiver extending the deadline for state compliance to September 30, 2019. Colleges should exempt the new group of covered individuals from nonresident tuition effective immediately, but will not be penalized as long as they are in compliance by September 30, 2019.