OUT OF STATE: Community college to UC?

<p>I'm currently a Florida resident (I'm still in high school) but would like to move to California to attend UCLA or UC Berkeley. I plan on going to a community college (like Santa Monica College) for the first two years then transfer to one of those two UCs. I know about the TAP/TAG program, so it shouldn't be difficult transferring from a community college to a UC. But how hard will it be to get into a CA community college if I'm a nonresident? I'm a junior in high school, I'm#5 in my class of 700+ students (in a public high school within the top 100 in the country), I got a 2300 on my last SAT, and I have a number of APs under my belt.</p>

<p>Also, how difficult will it be to establish residency for tuition purposes? I read all the guidelines, and the thing that worries me the most is the financial independence requirement. Exactly how much money would I need to make to prove that I'm self sufficient? I will be living with a close family friend in Studio City, but I will pay rent. Also, while I don't have a "steady" job, I've made a lot of money from doing local commercials and print ads here in South Florida (I've so far saved $10,000 in the last year and a half from that alone). I expect to continue my acting/commercial thing in California if I find an agent there, but if not I'll get a part time job as a waitress or something. I've had to pay income tax on my previous earnings, so will my previous income be considered for financial independence?</p>

<p>Anyway, it's not that I want to cut myself off from my parents emotionally or anything... I just don't want to be a financial burden to them (well, my mom mostly because my biological dad lives out of the country and barely pays for anything in my life even though he's extremely wealthy) and I want to pay for college as much as possible. I also don't think I'll qualify for many loans or grants because my mom and stepdad make a decent amount of money and have practically no debt, plus I know for a fact my stepdad and mom have at least $700,000 in "emergency" savings (meaning, money not used towards mortgage and whatnot; that money just sits in various savings accounts). Scholarship money from my academics is a different matter, but I don't think that whatever money I get from that will be enough to pay for $100,000 for college tuition. I don't want to ask money from my stepdad because I feel embarrassed that he's had to pay a lot of money to help my mom support me. Also, my mom and stepdad just had a baby recently, so I can only imagine how much money they'll have to spend on her. My dad won't help for college, like how he's never paid for my education or living expenses (although to be fair, he does send a check every birthday and Christmas... not that those things help much because my mom has always refused to take them). So do you think I can qualify for financial independence? If not, what course of action do you suggest I take regarding this whole college process? </p>

<p>Thanks in advance!</p>

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Also, how difficult will it be to establish residency for tuition purposes? I read all the guidelines, and the thing that worries me the most is the financial independence requirement.

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<p>It's incredibly difficult to establish residency when you are a dependent. The amount of money you would need to make would probably disqualify you for Pell Grant completely (especially with $10k in your own savings). The main grant aid available for the UCs (Cal Grants) is only for those who graduated high school as California residents. Even if you could be granted residency for tuition purposes, you would likely not receive anywhere near enough money to cover the COA (especially considering the money you would have to make to be considered independent would disqualify you for most federal entitlement grants).</p>

<p>The real difficult piece is proving intent to stay that do not involve academic reasons. They can reject your request for residency for tuition purposes if they have any reason to believe that you came to California only for school.</p>

<p>While yes, it's possible to gain residency for tuition purposes, it is, as I mentioned, purposefully made to be extremely difficult and you are highly unlikely to ever achieve it. If you were already an independent for financial aid purposes, then you would be able to much more easily establish residency. I would not set your hopes on being able to accomplish something like this and to make sure you have other options available. And, even if you did get residency, you're looking at some fairly hefty loans since you would not qualify for Cal Grant.</p>

<p>And no, your previous earnings will not count as financial independence. Besides the fact paying income taxes has nothing to do with financial independence, it is likely your parents claimed you as a dependent on their taxes as their provided more than 50% of your support. Your parents must not claim you for two years on their income taxes and you must be 100% financially independent. Note that loans do not count as financial independence either (even if you do not have a cosigner).</p>

<p>California community colleges are open to anyone who is of age and breathing (breathing optional), it's one of the perks of living in California.</p>

<p>You don't need to stop speaking to your family or anything. Being financially independent means that 1) you are no longer claimed as a dependent by someone else (your parents) and 2) you are self-sufficient financially (that's somewhat open for interpretation and the California community colleges are fairly lenient).</p>

<p>The most important thing is for you to show intent of making California your permanent home. So when you arrive in California, run to nearest DMV to get a California driver's license, register to vote, and get a utility bill in your name with a California address (cell phone bill). Get part-time work if you can and pay California income tax. You'll be a new California resident in no time.</p>