NC Residency

There is a difference between residing in North Carolina and being a legal resident for tuition purposes. Under North Carolina law, to qualify for in-state tuition, you must demonstrate:

  • that you established your domicile in North Carolina
  • that you have maintained that domicile for at least twelve continuous months prior to the start of the term

What is “Domicile”?

Definition: One’s permanent dwelling place of indefinite duration, as distinguished from a temporary place of abode; synonymous with legal residence.

Domicile may be established:

  1. By birth; i.e., a child upon birth has the domicile of his or her parents and retains the same until there is a legally effective change in that domicile;
  2. By operation of law, as in the case of a minor, whose domicile, in most cases, is presumed conclusively to be that of his or her parents (actual physical presence in the new state of domicile not required in such cases); or
  3. By choice. Assuming the existence of no disabilities such as infancy, a person may establish domicile in a jurisdiction of his or her choice.

One always has a domicile. (Note: One is not guaranteed under the law, however, always to have a state in which one qualifies as a resident for tuition purposes.)

One retains a given domicile until it is abandoned and another is established.

One never has more than one domicile at a given time.

Establishing domicile by choice requires the overt act of establishing physical presence in a place while maintaining at that time the intent to make the place one’s permanent home of indefinite duration. Thus, an adult person, having previously acquired domicile in one place, whether by birth, operation of law or choice, may change that domicile only by choice, through the concurrence of physical presence and residentiary intent in the new place.

The requisite domiciliary intent is tested by evaluating relevant, objectively verifiable conduct which may constitute a manifestation of the state of mind of the actor. The following types of inquiries, or combination thereof, may be significant, though no one item, nor any combination of the items, will necessarily control resolution of the question:

  • Living or not living in the home of one’s parents.
  • Place where one voted or registered to vote.
  • Place where one has served on jury duty.
  • Place where one has registered and/or licensed a car.
  • Place where one last acquired a driver’s license.
  • Place where one has filed state income tax returns.
  • Place where one maintains personal property and last listed such for taxation.
  • Place where one owns a home or other real property and pays taxes thereon.
  • Place where one spends substantial parts of available vacation time.
  • Place where one is or was employed or working gainfully.
  • Place where one maintains membership in one or more professional associations, unions and other organizations.
  • Place where one last attended or graduated from high school.
  • Place where one resided before enrolling in an institution of higher education.
  • Sources of one’s financial support.

The Concept of Domicile

Domicile and its duration are the basis for the classification system used to determine resident status for tuition purposes under G.S. 116-143.1. The definition of domicile set forth in Section 11.B. above, describes some of its attributes, including its reliance on subjective intent as measured by overt acts of the individual. More specifically, the concept of domicile, or legal residence, embodies two elements: residential presence in a state coupled with a particular intent referable to that presence. The general law of North Carolina on this subject is summarized in a North Carolina Supreme Court case as follows:

Precisely speaking, residence and domicile are not convertible terms. A person may have his residence in one place and his domicile in another. Residence simply indicates a person’s actual place of abode, whether permanent or temporary. Domicile denotes one’s permanent, established home as distinguished from a temporary, although actual place of residence. When absent there from, it is the place to which he intends to return; it is the place where he intends to remain permanently, or for an indefinite length of time, or until some unexpected even shall occur to induce him to leave. Two things must concur to constitute a domicile: First, residence; second, the intent to make the place of residence a home.

Establishing a NC Domicile

Establishing a bona fide domicile in North Carolina requires that you prove:

  • that you were physically present in the state
  • that you intend to make North Carolina a permanent home indefinitely, and
  • that you are not in North Carolina solely to attend college.

Additionally, under NC statute, the initial residency status of the student is considered to be that of the student’s parent(s) or legal guardian. G.S. 116-143.1(e), in part, makes the domicile of a student’s parents prima facie evidence of the student’s domicile.

If an individual, irrespective of age, has living parent(s) or court-appointed guardian of the person, the domicile of such parent(s) or guardian is, prima facie, the domicile of the individual; but this prima facie evidence of the individual’s domicile may or may not be sustained by other information. Further, non domiciliary status of parents is not deemed prima facie evidence of the applicant child’s status if the applicant has lived (though not necessarily legally resided) in North Carolina for the five years preceding enrollment or re-registration.  [from the North Carolina Residency Manual]

History & Context

The public institutions of higher education were established and are maintained by the State of North Carolina primarily for the benefit of qualified residents of North Carolina. The consequent substantial commitment of public resources to higher education is predicated on the proposition that the State does benefit significantly from the existence of large numbers of citizens whose capacity for effective discharge of civic, professional and social responsibilities has been enhanced by the opportunity for advanced educational experiences. Accordingly, as a matter of State policy, the benefits of higher education are provided so far as practicable at minimal cost to students whose quality and duration of residence in North Carolina render them people of the State. [see North Carolina Constitution, Article IX, Section 9.]

While the practice of permitting a limited number of non residents to enroll in the North Carolina public institutions of higher education is educationally sound, considerations of equity dictate that such students pay the approximate actual cost of their education, already provided by the citizen taxpayers of North Carolina in anticipation of present and future benefit to the State. Accordingly, it is the long standing practice of the State to require students who are not residents of the State to pay a higher rate of tuition than that charged to students whose legal residence in the State reasonably assures that they have already contributed, and will continue to contribute, substantially to the State in their capacity as resident citizens. [see General Statutes 116-11(7) and 116-144.]

Application for In-State Residency for Tuition Purposes

When you apply to UNC Asheville, your initial residency determination will be determined in the Admissions office and is based on the information you provided on your application.

If you are classified as an out-of-state resident and feel that you are a North Carolina resident, you may complete the long Application for NC Residency form. The deadline to submit the application along with all supporting documentation cannot be later than the 5th day of class for the term in which the student is seeking residency reclassification. All conditions necessary for achieving in-state status must still be satisfied prior to the beginning of the academic term for which the student is seeking reclassification. It is in your best interest to first read all of the information on the Residency website. When you are ready to apply:

  1. Make certain you complete all sections of the application.
  2. Make certain you attach any and all documentation that you believe prove your domicile and the dates they occurred. For more information, including possible factors involved in establishing domicile, please review the NC Residency Manual. Please Note: Supporting documents will not be returned. Students should retain copies of any documents they may need to reference in the future including a copy of the residency application submitted.
  3. Make certain any tax forms submitted are signed and dated.
  4. Applicants who are not U.S. citizens must also fill out the Supplemental form for Non U.S. Citizens to assist in the processing of their application.

Once your application is received, it will be reviewed in the Office of the Registrar. One of three situations may occur in reviewing your application:

  1. You have proven your NC Residency for Tuition Purposes prior to the beginning of the term for which you are applying. You will receive a notification of the decision.
  2. A determination cannot be made due to lack of documentation. You will be notified via email and asked to provide the documentation requested. If the documentation is not received within three weeks of notification, a decision will be based on information in the application and documentation that was provided.
  3. You do not qualify for classification as a NC Resident for Tuition Purposes; you will be notified with instructions for appeal.

If you feel that an error was made in reviewing your file and/or you have new information, you may appeal to the Campus NC Residency Appeal Committee. Instructions are included in letters of denial from the Office of the Registrar.

Military Tuition Benefit

Active Duty Military

Under North Carolina General Statutes Section (6.S.) 116-143.3, members of the armed services stationed in North Carolina on active duty and their dependent relatives may be charged the in-state tuition rate whether or not they qualify as residents for tuition purposes under 6.S. 116-143.1. Also, the law provides that, "no person shall lose his or her resident status for tuition purpose solely by reason of serving in the armed forces outside of this State."

Veterans Choice Act

On June 23, 2015, Senate Bill 478 was enacted thereby creating North Carolina General Statute § 116-143.3A and bringing North Carolina law into compliance with Section 702 of the federal Veterans Choice, Access, and Accountability Act.  Under this statute, veterans of the armed services and their dependent relatives may be charged the in-state tuition rate if one of the following criteria applies:

• A veteran using Chapter 33 or 30 GI Bill benefits, living in the state in which he or she is pursuing a course of education at an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) (regardless of his/her formal state of residence) and who enrolls in an IHL within three years of discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.

• Anyone using transferred GI Bill benefits living in the state in which he or she is pursuing a course of education at an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL) (regardless of his/her formal state of residence), and who enrolls in an IHL within three years of the transferor’s discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.

• Anyone using benefits under the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) to pursue a course of education at an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL), who lives in the state in which the IHL is located (regardless of his/her formal state of residence), and who enrolls in an IHL within three years of the service member’s death in the line of duty following a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.

Students who feel they may qualify for the military tuition benefit, should complete the appropriate military tuition benefit application form, linked below. Closely follow all the instructions and provide the required documentation.

Active Duty or Veteran Application Form
Spouse or Dependent Application Form

Important Forms