Establishing in state residency

My daughter is a junior looking at schools in and around the D.C. area because she plans to work there after she graduates. She wants to move permanently to the state where she goes to school, whether it’s Maryland or Virginia. That got me thinking about the difference in cost between in state tuition and out of state tuition.

How hard is it to obtain state residency in the eyes of colleges and universities?

I know she’d need to live there for at least a year before in state tuition was even a consideration. It may be worth it for us to buy a condo/townhouse in the area and sublet it.

She would obviously register and insure her car there, get an in state driver’s license, register to vote and get a job. Those are no brainers for her.

Would we be able to co-sign her loans?

Could she stay on our family health plan?

I’m guessing we couldn’t declare her as a dependent so that will change our taxes.

Am I missing anything?

Has anyone done something similar, and was it worth it?

It’s HARD.

No…YOU, the parents would need to MOVE to MD or VA if you want to establish residency there. Owning a second home…condo…there would NOT establish residency for YOU…the parents. And your parent residency is what determines instate status at the four year colleges in VA and MD.

She probably could get instate status at a MD community college…but not likely for the four year schools

Once more…do you, the parents, plan to move there…now…prior to the start of your daughters senior year? That is what will be used to determine your residency status.

Can’t see why not. But this has NOTHING to do,with establishing instate status at a four year university in MD or VA.

Sure…as long as it covers services in the state in which her college is located…she can stay on your plan anyway even if this is not the case… it the college might require her to be on THEIR plan or a plan with coverage in that state.

You are missing a LOT. Your kiddo will be graduating from an OOS high school. That will be the first ticker that she is NOT an instate resident.

If it was as easy as you are making it sound…don’t you think ALL OOS students would just do,what you are saying? It’s NOT that easy. In the VERY vast majority of cases, the residency of the PARENTS is used to determine instate status for a college undergrad.

You are thinking about buying a condo, keeping her on your health insurance…and co-signing. Loans for her…but hope she can be recognized as indepently supporting herself? Really?

This can be done in SOME states…I believe Wyoming and Utah could be places where it’s easy to establish undergrad residency for tuition purposes. @twoinanddone could you comment?

But VA and MD…In my opinion, you won’t get this instate status…unless you move to the state.

Unless you are considering MD community colleges…some of which will grant instate status after successfully demonstrating student full support after three months.

If I had a nickel for every HS junior who ended up where they thought they would end up after graduation… well, i wouldn’t have many nickels.

Everything that Thumper lays out is true, so your plan for now is unworkable unless your family is going to relocate- and soon.

But besides that- how the heck does a teenager know where she’s going to live after college? Mine all moved, A LOT, in those early years. You get the job of a lifetime but it’s 1000 miles away from where you went to college? Well, that’s what’s great about being 23 or 24 years old. You sell the futon on Craigslist, store your books and whatnots in mom’s basement, and you move. Even professions like K-12 teaching where supposedly you should go to college where you want to end up settling- kids get fellowships, get accepted into a prestigious education reform program across the country, decide they want to do ed policy or become a lawyer working on educational access issues or they fall in love with someone in the military and become a trailing spouse for a few years.

Does your teenager really want a condo weighing her down at this point in her life?

No, you won’t become a VA or MD resident by doing what you lay out, and no, it’s not worth it because your D may decide to teach English in Beijing or become an agronomist working for the World Bank in Africa or become a social media expert in Chicago or create a start-up with someone in her study group and move to Silicon Valley.

What if there was a relative in state that declared her on their taxes as a dependent and she lived with them?

She intends to work in D.C. after school. She’ll be involved with the Federal Government.

Nope. The only relatives who matter are the PARENTS of the student. Cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles…nope…they don’t matter because YOU are the parents…and that is where the buck stops.

I suppose you could terminate your parental rights, and completly cease contact with these kids…and have them placed in legal guardianship with someone else. But that is pretty drastic to do to get college tuition reduced…and anyway…that would have to happen before age 18 so you need to get cracking…as this is a complicated legal process. Oh…and your kids would need to move in with their guardians as soon as the parental rights are terminated…maybe before. So finishing HS where they are wouldn’t be a choice.

ETA…if you go the route of terminating parental rights…who will pay for college… because it won’t be able to be YOU.

The federal government has offices all over the country…just FYI.

What is the matter with YOUR instate public universities…where your kids DO get instate rates?

She doesn’t want to go to school here. She doesn’t need in state tuition but she wouldn’t mind the discount if she intends to stay in state.

Please…your plans to try to get her instate tuition are flawed. But here is a totally legit way for her to get instate tuition.

She can move to Maryland or Virginia (she will have to pick… ecause she can only establish residency in ONE state).

Then she can get herself a place to live, and a full time job there. Just do this until the year she is 24 years old…and poof…she will be independent for tuition and financial aid purposes.

Is she willing to wait and do that? If so, problem solved.

The second way…you parents can move…now. But again…you will need to choose. You can’t move to BOTH MD and VA and establish residency at the same time. Oh wait…you and the other parent could get divorced…and one of you could live in VA…where I believe they extend instate rates to kids of divorced parents who don’t reside there. The kid would need to live with the other divorced parent in MD.

Again…a pretty drastic measure to take…and having two residences could gobble up any savings you might net.

She has her whole life to live in the DC area. She can apply for summer internships in DC. She might even be able to do a semester away to one of the colleges in the greater DC area…from her home college.

What about her stats? Are they sufficiently high enough to garner merit aid at say…American University? Would you be able to pay the difference if she got an award there…could be $40,000 a year even WITH a merit award. But she would be in DC.

One of my kids worked for the Federal Government- in a high status job, very competitive to get, located in Los Angeles. Friend of ours is a cryptographer and intelligence expert who has lived all over the country (every job working for the Federal Government). And a HS classmate of mine is a Federal judge- likely the most “famous” of my classmates, and has never lived in DC despite having been on the federal payroll since he was appointed.

So your first logical misstep is to conclude that living in or near DC means better opportunities in government. There are US federal employees who live in the Netherlands and prosecute former dictators accused of genocide, and federal employees in the Phillipines still trying to locate tens of millions of dollars Imelda Marcos stole from her own people. Lots of great and worthy and incredible careers not in DC.

The second misstep is to conclude that by terminating your parental rights or having your D petition a judge to emancipate her, it will save you time, aggravation and money. Do you really want your D to go to court and claim that you are abusive or neglectful parents? Have social workers visiting your home at all hours and checking to see what’s in your refrigerator and getting your D’s medical records going back 15 years to see if she ever broke and arm “falling off a swing”? To me, I’d rather advise my kid to find a college we could afford rather than have my parental rights terminated to save a few bucks. And of course- having my kid lie under oath since presumably you are NOT abusive or neglectful.

The third misstep is to assume that your D isn’t going to change her mind-- either about her career path, her geographic location, her degree, etc. And of course she doesn’t want to go to school instate- no HS junior does, until they figure out that the out of state options are unaffordable. And yours will too- if in fact, they are unaffordable, without the “discount” to which you are NOT legally entitled. And if you can afford out of state- god bless you, because the good and hardworking taxpayers of Maryland and Virginia are counting on YOU and your generosity to help balance the books of their public universities.

Which state do you live in?

You can afford to buy a condo in the DC area but you can’t afford out of state tuition?
Something sounds wrong.

And another misstep. You and your kid are assuming that graduating from college in VA or MD will mean more opportunities to get Federal government jobs…and that’s not true either.

We know federal employees who graduated from USC, Marquette, Rider University, Boston University, Ohio State, Dartmouth, Kent State, Wellesley, Tulane. Yes…they all work for the federal government…some in DC and some NOT.

One was an FBI agent who was transferred all over the country. The vast majority of his assignments were NOT in DC.

Oh and FYI, two grads were staffers in congress who barely earned a living wage. Both left public service pretty quickly…because they simply got tired of not having any discretionary money after paying for their cost of living in DC.

FIL was a foreign service officer…and seldom lived even in this country…but most definitely was a government employee.

Oh…and keep an eye on budget cuts. Many government agencies are seeing HUGE cuts to their hiring budgets.

For Vrginia, take a look at this.

Thanks @jonri

And under domicile…it clearly states that the PARENT domicile is what is used. The criteria for not using it are listed…but this poster doesn’t meet any of them.

People are maybe being a little hysterical about this.

It’s not easy for a student to establish in-state residency in most states, but it’s hardly impossible, either, if someone really cares about it. I haven’t looked at VA or MD recently, but in most “tough” states, if the parents themselves are not moving (or at least one of them), the keys are (a) to rebut the presumption that a student under 24 is dependent on her parents, and (b) not to come to the state for the purpose of education. Your daughter would have to move to Maryland, say, and get a full-time job, and support herself, at least mostly. (So, yes, absolutely not a dependent on your tax return . . . but that won’t matter much in 2018 anyhow.) And do all that stuff like registering to vote and registering a car and filing tax returns. Joining a church wouldn’t hurt. If she did that as a gap year, starting about the minute after graduating from high school, and applied to colleges during the gap year, so that she would over a year as a state resident over 18 at the time of matriculation, it would be hard for anyone to deny her residency status. (Not that they wouldn’t try, but your daughter should win.)

Once she starts college as a non-resident, however, it will be virtually impossible for her to establish residency for tuition purposes without taking extended time off from college (without leaving the state, of course).

Now, whether you want to do that to save the tuition is another matter.

@JHS maybe.

But the salient point is…she will have to pick either MD or VA as she can’t establish residency in BOTH.

VA is pretty clear on the link above that the domicile of the parent is used…and simply being self supporting is NOT a criteria for independence there.

We’re in Rhode Island. I can afford a condo. She needs to pay her own way. Our public options in state don’t rival University of Maryland or UVA which are her top choices.

Are her stats competitive for merit aid anywhere?

If you can afford a condo where UVA and UMD are located, why wouldn’t you divert the money to funding college?

Her first hurdle will be getting accepted at UVA…not so easy especially for OOS students.

UMD…well, my son was denied acceptance there in 2003 a 1350 CR/Math SAT and an unweighted GPA of 3.5. Acceptances have gotten more competitive since that time.

Honestly, I don’t think her chances of getting instate tuition are very good. They are especially poor if she matriculates as an OOS student.

Let’s say she moves to MD, gets a full-time job that covers all living expenses independently, without any financial assistance from family, files in-state tax returns, and sticks with it for a year or more. OK, she can make a case that she is a resident.

So now she can enroll at the state university and qualify for the in-state tuition rate. But – if she is now a student, then what happens to that full-time job? Even if she continues to work part-time while studying, her earnings will go down, while her expenses will go up, because she now has to pay tuition in addition to living expenses. Realistically, can she continue to make this work independently, without family assistance? And if she gets that assistance, she could lose residency status for tuition purposes.

Another approach would be to marry a state resident and get financial assistance from her in-laws. In effect, she would be exchanging an out-of-state family for an in-state family.

A lady I used work with went out and got herself a federal job and moved to VA coincident with her son finishing the 11th grade here in NJ. They had two residences for a year while their son finished high school, then her husband and son moved in with her for the summer after graduation and the son went on to college in the fall. This is a good plan and this lady is no dummy. Looking at UVA for example, there is a potential $120K after tax sum in play here so there is value to be had. The one thing I might suggest is that since one will be getting a new job as part of this plan, try to go to work for a university so you can get an even bigger bonus.


Yes… it in YOUR example…one parent DID establish a domocile in VA a full year before the kid graduated from HS.