Residency For Tuition Purposes

California state law distinguishes between residents and nonresidents for tuition purposes. Students classified as nonresidents for tuition purposes pay an additional fee per unit of nonresident tuition (refer to Tuition and Other Fees for the current fee schedule).

The state requirements to establish residency for tuition purposes are independent from those of other types of residence (such as for tax purposes, jury duty, voting or other state residence). A resident for tuition purposes is someone who meets the requirements set forth in the California Education Code (sections 68000-68085, 68120-68134, and 89705-89707.5) and Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations (sections 41901-41915).

Under California law, San Diego State University must determine the residency status for tuition purposes of all applicants and students.

  • Adult students (who will be at least 19 years old on the Residence Determination Date) may establish their own residence for tuition purposes. Minor unmarried students (who will be under the age of 19 on the Residence Determination Date) derive their legal residence from the parent with whom they reside or last resided.
  • A non-U.S. citizen may establish residence unless prohibited from establishing a domicile in the United States by the Immigration and Nationality Act. Some examples of non-U.S. citizens who may establish residence include permanent residents, refugees, students granted asylum or temporary protected status, and students who hold certain non-immigrant visas.

Additional information is available on the California State University website.

A Residence Determination Date is set for each academic term and is part of the residency determination process. The Residence Determination Date for each term is listed below:

Semester Residence Determination Date
Fall September 20
Spring January 25
Summer June 1

A student's initial residency status is determined by the Office of Admissions according to answers to questions on the admissions application. If additional information is required in order to determine residency status, you will be asked to submit a CSU Residence Questionnaire and provide copies of official or legal documents via the Upload Admission Documents link in your SDSU WebPortal account.

In order to be classified as a California resident for tuition purposes at time of admission to San Diego State University, a student (or parent in the case of a minor), must demonstrate both physical presence and residential intent.

Physical Presence: The student (or parent in the case of a minor) must establish a physical presence in California more than one year immediately prior to the Residence Determination Date of the term for which classification as a resident is requested. Continuous physical presence is not mandatory, but a student who leaves California has the burden of clearly demonstrating their retention of California residence during periods of absence.

Residential Intent: Physical presence within California solely for educational purposes does not constitute establishment of California residence. The student (or parent in the case of a minor) must demonstrate that they intend to make California their permanent home by establishing residential ties in California and relinquishing ties to the former place of residence. Proof of intent must be in place more than one year prior to the Residence Determination Date and can include (but is not limited to):

  • Obtaining a California driver's license or ID card
  • Registering to vote and voting in California
  • Registering a vehicle owned or operated in California
  • Filing a California state personal income tax return
  • Maintaining an active bank account opened in California with a California branch
  • Licensing from the state for professional practice
  • Listing a permanent California address on home of record, or other military records

Processing Time for Initial Classification: Please allow four to six weeks to process your residency classification requests. All communication, including residency determinations, will be sent via email. Until a decision is made, students will remain classified as either undetermined or nonresidents and are responsible for on-time payment of nonresident fees.

If you were classified as a nonresident student when you were admitted to SDSU, you may request to be reclassified to California resident in any subsequent term.

Requirements: In order to be eligible for reclassification to California resident:

  • You must be able to demonstrate your physical presence in California, show intent to make California your permanent home, and maintain an eligible immigration status for at least one year prior to the Residence Determination Date of the term for which you are requesting reclassification.
  • You must provide documentation that proves you have been financially independent from your parent(s) in the current calendar year (in which the reclassification request is submitted to the campus) and the prior three years. Financial Independence is a requirement for residence reclassification. In accordance with California Education Code section 68044, a student shall be considered financially independent if they:
    • have not and will not be claimed as an exemption for state and federal tax purposes by their parent in the current year or the prior three years; and
    • have not and will not receive more than $750 in financial assistance from their parent in the current year or in any of the prior three years; and
    • have not and will not live with parents for more than 6 weeks in the current year or in any of the prior three years.
  • You may be exempt from meeting the above financial independence requirements due to the following updates to California Legislation Title 5, Article 4: Nonresident Tuition 41905.5. Residence Reclassification - Financial Independence Requirement. Effective for the fall 2020 academic term, if the student meets at least one of the following criteria, the student does not have to meet the financial independence requirement.
    • Dependent on a parent who has California residence for more than one year immediately preceding the residence determination date
    • Enrolled in a graduate or post‐baccalaureate program, regardless of age
    • Turned 24 years of age by the residence determination date
    • Married or registered domestic partner as of the residence determination date
    • Active duty members serving in the U.S Armed Forces
    • Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
    • Legal dependent other than spouse or registered domestic partner
    • Former ward of the court, foster youth or both parents are deceased
    • Declared by a court to be an emancipated minor
    • Unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

How to File: To request reclassification, please submit a CSU Residence Questionnaire and your supporting documentation via the Personal Information Update link in your SDSU WebPortal account.

In addition to the CSU Residence Questionnaire, you must submit the following documents and a letter of explanation for any item you do not possess:

  • Driver's License (or state I.D. card if student does not drive)
  • Current and prior vehicle registration
  • Voter registration
  • Three most recent California state income tax returns
  • Three most recent federal income tax transcripts
  • Most recent W2 statement
  • Opening date and branch location where bank account was opened
  • Citizens of other countries will need to provide documentation to verify immigration status

Filing periods: Students may file their reclassification request beginning on the first day of registration for the term in which residence is requested. Reclassification requests cannot be accepted after the last day of the term for which reclassification is desired. Requests for residence reclassification for a previous term are not accepted.

Processing Time: Please allow two to three weeks to review reclassification requests. Determinations will not be made until all documents are received. All communication, including determinations, will be sent via email. Until a decision is made, students will remain classified as nonresidents and are responsible for on-time payment of nonresident fees.

California law provides for specific exceptions to nonresident tuition. A full list of exceptions is available on the CSU Residency for Tuition Purposes webpage.

California Nonresident Tuition Exemption (AB 540/AB 2000): If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for California residency for tuition purposes, you may qualify for an exemption from nonresident tuition if you:

  • graduated from a California high school (or attained the equivalent) AND
  • attended a California high school for three or more years OR attended a combination of elementary, middle, and/or high schools in California for a total of three or more years and attained credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full-time high school course work

NOTE: Students who qualify for this exemption may also be eligible to apply for and receive funds from certain state and institutional financial assistance programs through the California Dream Act.

Students classified as nonresidents may appeal the campus decision to the CSU Chancellor's Office. The appeal must be submitted online at the CSU Chancellor's Office website within 30 calendar days of notification of the final campus decision.

Appeals will be accepted by the CSU Chancellor's Office only if at least one of the following applies:

  1. a significant error of fact by the campus; or
  2. a significant procedural error by the campus; or
  3. an incorrect application of law which, if corrected, would require that the student be reclassified as a California resident; and/or,
  4. Significant new information, not previously known or available to the student, became available after the date of the campus decision classifying the student as a nonresident and based on the new information, the classification as a nonresident is incorrect.

A student must explain why the appeal meets one or more of the above appeal criteria and provide relevant supporting documentation. Appeals that do not include supporting documentation will be denied.

  • The eligibility criteria for California residency for tuition purposes are established by State Law and the California Code of Regulations. San Diego State University implements these laws and regulations.
  • SDSU cannot alter or waive the eligibility criteria for any reason.
  • Financial hardship cannot be considered in evaluating California residency for tuition purposes eligibility.
  • Under California law, if you have moved to California primarily to attend a California institution of higher learning, then you are not eligible for California residency for tuition purposes.
  • Living in California for 12 months is not an automatic qualification for California residency for tuition purposes. You must prove through official and/or legal documents that you have moved to California permanently and are not merely living in California temporarily while you attend California State University, however long your course of study may take.
  • Despite the length of time you attend SDSU or live in California, you might not qualify for California residency for tuition purposes. You must prove through official and/or legal documents that you meet all of the requirements for California residency for tuition purposes.
  • Legal ties that you maintain in another state or country (e.g., state tax liability, a driver's license, voter's registration, etc.), regardless of your reasons for maintaining these ties, will disqualify you from California residency for tuition purposes.
  • For students requesting residence reclassification who are required to show financial independence, evidence that you are receiving financial support from your parents in any way, either directly (e.g. tuition payments, parent PLUS loans, etc.) or indirectly (e.g., parent-purchased or co-purchased residences, parent-controlled financial portfolios), will disqualify you from California residency for tuition purposes.

Questions

Additional information regarding CSU residency determination is available on the California State University website. Please email residency questions to our Residence Specialist at [email protected].