Getting In-State Tuition in NC

Hello, I want to get In-State tuition at UNC-Wilmington next year by taking a Gap Year to work full-time and live down in North Carolina. I know about all of the documents I will have to provide like NC Driver’s License and NC Voting Registration and filing as an independent on my taxes. What I don’t know is if this will all guarantee getting in-state tuition at UNC-Wilmington.

Should I decline my acceptance and reapply next year but with in-state tuition? Would I be able to simply defer acceptance for a year and then change my residency status? Will the RDS(residency determination system) be able to tell that I’ve deferred, and therefore know that I went to NC for education purposes? (In-state is not allowed to those who move to NC purely for educational purposes). However, I do plan on living in NC past college, but it could look otherwise with the deferral if they are privy to that information.

Will I be able to file as an independent on my Fafsa? Will I get more financial aid because I’m supporting myself?

If anyone has been through this process before or knows a lot on the matters, please respond to me on here. Thank you so much!

From the NC Residency Determination website - FAQ section:

  • they are here for a purpose other than going to college (some students may never qualify as an in-state resident for tuition purposes, particularly if they came to North Carolina to attend college)

  • Simply residing in North Carolina is NOT enough. A student must show permanent ties to North Carolina by proving that any previous state of residence has been abandoned. Students may not have more than one legal residence (domicile) at one time.

You could get in-state tuition at the following for this year, they are still taking applications.

Elizabeth City State University
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Western Carolina University


Are your parents moving to NC with you? If not, it’s very likely that your state of residence will continue to be where your parents reside. They pay taxes in that state to support higher education. They are not taxpayers in NC.

When the residency requirement says you must cut all ties with any other state, that would likely include accepting any support from your out of state parents.

In terms of filing as an independent on the FAFSA…that’s not likely either. Are you married? Do you have a child you support? Are you a military veteran? Were you a ward of the state? Are you an emancipated minor? Are you over age 24? Do you have a bachelors degree?? If no…you will be considered dependent for Fafsa purposes regardless of where you live or whether that’s with your parents…or not. Doesn’t matter if you move to out and are self supporting if the answer to the above questions is…NO.

And your parent tax filing status doesn’t matter either.

Interesting thread. I’ve never considered this before, but reading some of the FAFSA docs @thumper1 is def correct. In terms of FAFSA, you’ll be considered a dependent student, and then if NC residency folks look at FAFSA, they will maybe ask about that? Not sure. See this link for FAFSA dependency status info: Federal Student Aid

Strange to me though. What if you’re 19 and estranged from your parents? Like you’re not homeless necessarily, but if they’re just useless parents and the kid needs to get out. Those kids have to still deal with their parents on FAFSA and can’t move somewhere, work, and be a normal adult with taxpayer/resident status? That sucks if so. What about if a kid truly does just move away for a year because of whatever situation - relationship, escape, abuse - they do get a job to live on their own, then they actually do want to go to school - in other words - their intent was never to move for school.

I am no lawyer, but the NC site reads, to me - like if you do full blown adulting for at least 12 months - get a lease/buy a house, pay all bills, fully financially sufficient, all the other things - then seems like you’d be a NC resident.

However - the FAFSA thing is a good point to consider. See page 9 in this doc.

Yup. It does.

Colleges consider your parents until you are 25- unless any of the things that @thumper1 mentioned apply. One of the reasons that they do is precisely to prevent people from setting up residence. Back in ye olden days (before states eviscerated financial support for state unis), you could get residency part way through school. Indeed, 2 of my brothers did exactly that, one in NC and one in CA: they moved their DL, lived in the state & worked over the summer and were in-state the following year.