Would love some input for choosing between UNC Chapel Hill (in state) vs. UCLA

My dad grew up in California and has wanted to move back to California for some time now, so we were hoping he could move this summer and try to establish residency so we would receive in-state tuition eventually, probably paying out of state for the first year and in state for the rest.

I’ve lived in NC my whole life, and the prospect of moving across the country does excite me (and scare me). UNC is also a great option, but it is heavy with in-state students, and I really am wanting something new, but it’s hard to pass up UNC’s affordable in-state tuition.

I would also appreciate any input on the political science programs at these 2 schools, as that is my intended major and hope to attend law school as well.

Go where you want - but yes, UNC will be cheaper.

That’s it. There’s no right answer here - just the one that fits you best.

I, for one, don’t see how any college graduate could afford to live in LA today.

Forgetting that, where you go undergrad is irrelevant to where you will go to grad - so you can always move to CA later while your family moves now.

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btw - yes, UNC will be heavily instate. UCLA more so. But nonetheless, it’s not going to be like they are kids you know - they won’t be.


If I were to go to UCLA, I’d have no intention of staying there after graduation; you’re right, just too expensive. I thought it would be neat to experience the west coast for 4 years and then move back to NC, where the rest of my family is.

OP I don’t think the advice you need is which school to attend. Both are fine schools with similar reputations. I think the advice you need is on college major.

Polisci & Law. These are degrees that don’t pay well and the unemployment rate is really high even for lawyers with depressed wages. Consider studying a science that you have enjoyed in HS.

Your future self will thank you!

I’m pretty familiar with both schools, since I spent much of my undergrad at UNC and attended and taught at UCLA.

You really can’t go wrong with either, but I prefer Carolina at the undergraduate level. It’s noticeably smaller and has a more cohesive student body, and Chapel Hill and the Triangle are great for college students on a budget.

Both schools are excellent for political science, and Carolina offers cross-registration with Duke, which also has top-notch programs in poli sci and public policy.

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Those are definitely some good things for me to think about! I think the appeal for ucla is that no one from my high school goes there, and I’d generally say I enjoy pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. I’m in the Meck County area and it seems as if a great amount of seniors will be attending UNC, and in many cases entire friend groups. I think it’s fair to say that UNC is the obvious practical choice money wise, but I’m still drawn to UCLA just because it’s more exciting. Most likely going to be UNC at the end, but still honored to just be accepted at UCLA :slight_smile:

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FYI, I am not sure if you will be able to establish residency for tuition purposes that way. They are very strict.

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I’m not sure the specifics, but my dad is calling ucla tomorrow to discuss residency and how to qualify. If we weren’t able to qualify that way, my decision is made for me because we can’t afford out of state 4 years. But essentially, he would be moving to California and would become a resident, and I believe I would also have to become a resident there and do things such as get a CA drivers license, but that isn’t a big issue anyways.

OP should not have an issue establishing residency for tuition purposes if his/her parent is moving to California. It’s pretty easy to file for a classification change after a year as long as you have all of the necessary paperwork showing residency (dated airplane ticket, proof of address, voter registration, driver’s license or state ID, etc.). The difficult part for most out-of-state students is proving financial independence of their parents, but that doesn’t apply if your parents are establishing residency in CA.

I went through the process myself since most graduate programs at UCLA cover out-of-state tuition only for the first year.

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I am pretty sure that if you did not graduate from a CA high school, he would have had to have been an established resident before you applied. If it were a simple as a parent moving to CA, many people would do it.

That is not true. How old were you and were you a dependent? Also, what year? It has gotten drastically more strict.

Not all sciences lead to great job prospects at the BA/BS level. Biology and chemistry graduates often show worse post-graduation job outcomes than political science graduates. Based on earnings of BA/BS graduates who received federal financial aid:

School Major BA/BS median earnings
UNC-CH Biology 27855
UNC-CH Chemistry 30228
UNC-CH Physics 36848
UNC-CH Math 48198
UNC-CH Applied Math 67660
UNC-CH Political Science 34485
UCLA Biology 25484
UCLA Neurobiology 33459
UCLA Physiology 21508
UCLA Chemistry 36455
UCLA Physics 33993
UCLA Math 53775
UCLA Applied Math 49527
UCLA Political Science 38232

Does a student retain NC resident status for tuition if their parent moves out of state?

Something made me think a dependent student only has a 12 month grace period, but I may be wrong.

I’m not sure how it all works to be honest. I’ll update this topic after my dad discusses it with someone from ucla


I’m not sure exactly. My parents are divorced, but I think as long as one of my parents stays in North Carolina and they share joint custody, I believe I would still qualify for in state at NC, because technically I would have 2 homes that I go back and forth and one of them is in NC.

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https://ncresidency.cfnc.org/residencyInfo/studentFAQ says that:

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Good luck with it and your decision!

Double check me, but I don’t believe you can be a legal resident of more than one state at a time. I think it’s based on which parent claims you for tax purposes, so your parents would need to align that based on your college decision.

Thanks for finding that. I thought I remembered that we would basically not want to move out of NC as long as our kids were still in college here.