How do I qualify as an in-state resident for tuition purposes?
Domicile for tuition purposes is defined and solely controlled by Commonwealth Regulations and policies issued by the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. In order to qualify for in-state tuition, an individual must be able to demonstrate an established intent to reside permanently or indefinitely in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are numerous factors that may be considered in determining whether or not an individual has this appropriate intent. The domiciliary regulations upon which decisions are based can be located at 22 Pa. Code §507 et seq. These regulations were also made a Board of Governors Policy and are found at BOG Policy 1985-03.
What does “domicile” mean?
“Domicile” is a legal term that is defined as the place where an individual intends to remain and live permanently or indefinitely. It is the place where a person intends to return to after any absence. A person may live in a place for temporary purposes, such as a vacation or attending college. Once the goal of the temporary purpose is accomplished, however, the person does not intend to remain in that place. Since the person’s presence is only for temporary reasons, the individual cannot be considered an in-state resident for tuition purposes.
How can I show that I intend to live in Pennsylvania either permanently or indefinitely?
Because the intent to reside in-state is subjective, only you can know your true intent. Your actions and conduct, however, can demonstrate to others whether you possess such intent. You alone have the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that you possess the requisite intent to reside in Pennsylvania either permanently or indefinitely. Based upon the evidence that you submit or that may otherwise be available, a university administrator or committee will decide whether you intend to remain in Pennsylvania on a permanent or indefinite basis. Your overall conduct and actions will be reviewed and no single factor can demonstrate the appropriate intent to remain living in state.
A decision will be made by looking at your total circumstances as to whether your conduct and actions show that you are not merely living in Pennsylvania for the temporary purpose of attending college. There is no checklist of conduct or actions that will automatically result in anyone being reclassified as an in-state resident. In an application for classification, you will, however, be asked a number of questions. The items of information requested are not equally demonstrative of one’s intent to reside in Pennsylvania. Certain actions can be easily taken, although a person only intends to temporarily reside in Pennsylvania. Thus, it will be the quality and not the quantity of information you submit that will lead to a determination.
Information you will be requested to submit for review includes but is not limited to the following:
o Have you continuously resided in Pennsylvania for a period of twelve (12) months prior to registration as a student?
o Do you have financial aid based upon maintaining a domicile in a state other than Pennsylvania?
o Do you lease or own a permanent, independent residence in Pennsylvania?
o Do you pay Pennsylvania and local taxes, particularly during temporary absences from the state?
o Does anyone claim you as a dependent for income tax purposes?
o Have you transferred bank accounts, stock, automobiles and other registered property in state?
o Did you obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s license and register your automobile in Pennsylvania?
o Do you have permanent, full-time employment in Pennsylvania?
o Do you have memberships in social, civic, political, athletic and religious organizations in state?
o Do you have substantial personal ties to the Commonwealth that are not intrinsically connected to and contemporaneously with your attendance at the University?
o Are you financially emancipated in order to establish a domicile within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
o Do you live in Pennsylvania year round?
o Have you accepted a written offer of employment within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania upon graduation in your field of major?
This list of questions should not be considered a checklist, nor are you limited to furnishing only the information requested on an application for classification form. The questions here and on the form are only intended to give an indication of the type of action or conduct that can be considered in deciding domicile status. You have the opportunity to provide any and all evidence that you believe supports your position that you intend to remain in Pennsylvania on a permanent or indefinite basis. In particular, you will want to demonstrate that your presence in the state is not merely for the purpose of attending college. The burden of proving that a change in domicile has occurred rests upon the student that is making the request.
If I have not lived in Pennsylvania for 12 months prior to registering as a college or university student, can I still establish domicile for tuition purposes?
If you have continuously lived in Pennsylvania for a period of twelve months prior to enrolling in a Pennsylvania institution of higher education, you are presumed to be a Pennsylvania resident. But, if you have lived in Pennsylvania for a shorter period of time, there is a presumption that you are not a Pennsylvania resident. This is not a conclusive presumption, however, only a rebuttable presumption. This means that the presumption may be overcome by demonstrating through clear and convincing evidence your intent to reside in the state on a permanent or indefinite basis. Your evidence should prove that you are not in Pennsylvania solely to attend college. However, the burden of proving that a change in domicile has occurred rests upon the student that is making the request.
I have lived in Pennsylvania for 12 months, why was I classified as an out-of-state student?
You will continue to be classified as an out-of-state student for as long as you are unable to prove that you intend to reside permanently or indefinitely in Pennsylvania. If your circumstances show that you are merely in Pennsylvania to attend college, you will not be reclassified to in-state status. Certain factors, such as temporary summer or part-time school year employment in Pennsylvania, are not significant factors and are merely a consequence of your primary purpose to attend college. It is not unusual for students at State System Universities to obtain employment to supplement their education costs or to obtain voter registration and driver’s licenses for their convenience. This does not, in and of itself, establish Pennsylvania as a domicile. If no qualitative or quantitative evidence of a clear and convincing nature is submitted by a student that he or she intends to remain in Pennsylvania on a permanent or indefinite basis, the student will continue to be deemed a domiciliary of the state where his or her prior and significant ties are.