Residency Requirements

California state law requires that each student enrolled in or applying for admission to a California community college provide information and evidence to determine his/her residence classification for tuition purposes. The guidelines below will help you determine if you are a California resident for purposes of attending a California community college.

Residents of California are entitled to attend a community college by paying the community college enrollment fee. Nonresidents must pay the enrollment fee plus nonresident tuition plus a per-unit capital outlay fee. For the current fee schedule see the current schedule of classes or visit the Cost of College page on your college website.

To qualify as a resident, the student must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be physically present in California for at least one year and one day prior to the first day of the semester.
  2. Show documentation of intent to establish California residency dating at least one year and one day prior to the first day of the semester to present.
  3. Not be precluded from establishing residency by provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  4. Financial independence: A student seeking reclassification as a resident MUST demonstrate financial independence, along with physical presence AND intent. If your parents are not residents of California, you will be required to be financially independent in order to be a resident for tuition purposes. 
NOTE: A dependent student may derive residency from their parent or legal guardian.

The College will make the final determination of residency, but the burden of proof is on the student to demonstrate clearly, with proof, both physical presence in California and intent to establish California residence. Generally, intent cannot be proved with only one or two pieces of evidence. The more evidence you can present to show intent, the easier it is to become a California resident for tuition purposes. A person begins to establish intent by doing as many of the above-mentioned actions AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after their arrival in California.

All immigration documentation and proofs of California residency must be submitted to the Admissions and Records Office PRIOR to the start of the semester of attendance.

A person’s presence in California and the factors below are considered in determining California residency:

Supplementary documentation that may be used to prove residency factors:
Supplementary documentation that may be used to prove residency factors Physical Presence Intent Financial Independence
Ownership of residential property in California or rental/lease agreement of off-campus residence showing continued occupancy in California X X
Registered to vote, and voting in California (verified by County Clerk) X
License from a California professional practice X X
Maintained a business or employment in California (prior yr tax returns and current yr pay stub) X X
Active resident membership in California service or social clubs X
Payment of California personal income tax as a resident
If the end of the tax year does not fall one year and one day prior to resident determination date, one of the following documents is also required: check stubs, letter from employer or other verification
X X X
Possession of California motor vehicle license plates/registration X X
Federal W-2, 1040 or 1040EZ showing CA address
If the end of the tax year does not fall one year and one day prior to resident determination date, one of the following documents is also required: check stubs, letter from employer or other verification
X
Possession of California valid driver’s license or California DMV Identification Card X X
Maintained a California address as the home of record in military records (DD214) and on the leave and earnings statement (LES) while in the Armed Forces X
Maintained active savings or checking accounts in California banks (statements, checks or other documentation must show California physical address and inclusive dates) X
Petition for divorce as a California resident X X
Proof of jury duty service in a California court X
Utility Bills with a California address covering a one year period prior to the residency determination date X
Selective Service registration with a permanent California address X
Receipt of benefits from a California state agency covering a one year period prior to the residency determination date X X
Moving contract showing a California address X
Affidavit from landlord verifying length of tenancy at a specific California address X
Payment of non-resident tuition at an out-of-state institution (outside of CA) X
Filed FAFSA as financially independent X
Parent filed tax returns showing student was not claimed as a dependent X

No one factor automatically determines residency.

Financial Independence (EC 68044 & T5 54032)

A student seeking reclassification from nonresident to resident status must show financial independence from their non-resident parent(s) or guardian(s) in accordance with EC 68044; T5 54032. In order to establish financial independence, a student seeking reclassification must show the extent to which he or she has met the following criteria for the current and each of the immediately preceding three calendar years:

  1. That the student has not been claimed as an exemption for state and federal tax purposes by his or her nonresident parents in the calendar year the reclassification application is made and in any of the three calendar years prior to the reclassification application.
  2. That the student has not received more than $750 from his or her nonresident parents; and
  3. That the student has not lived in the home of his or her nonresident parents for more than six weeks during the calendar year the reclassification application is made and in any of the three calendar years prior to the reclassification application.

Relevant documentation to support a finding of financial independence may include tax returns from the student to verify the student’s income and from parents to verify the student was not included as a dependent, W-2’s, apartment rental contracts for leases, and copies of other necessary financial documentation (bank statements, loans, trusts, etc.) to verify the sources of the student’s income/savings. In terms of appropriate tax returns to use in review, you would request the latest returns available (for example, for the 2012-13 academic year, including spring term reclassifications, you would at a minimum expect to be provided tax returns for 2009, 2010, and 2011).

Residency Reclassification Request

Residency changes are not automatic. Students whose residency status changes during their enrollment at an SCCCD College must complete a Residency Reclassification Request form prior to being considered California residents.

This information has been extracted from the California Education Code sections 68000 and after, and California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 54000-54072.

Are you a member of the military on active duty or a member who was discharged within the last two years?

If your home state of record and address after separation is California and the date of discharge is within two years, you will be considered a California resident. You can reclassify using on your DD-214. If your circumstances are different from above, you will need to provide the additional California residency documents.

Please submit the following documentation to your college Admissions & Records Office:
  • Military Residency Affidavit with Documentation; or
  • DD-214; or
  • Leave & Earnings Statement (LES); or
  • California Residency Documentation

During the last two years did you attend an out of state school or an online program at an out of state school?

To qualify for in-state fees, a student needs to meet both requirements of residency. These requirements show intent to make California your home and being physically and continuously present for a year and a day prior to the residency determination date for the semester in which the student is planning to attend. You may satisfy these requirements of residency by choosing one of the options below:

  1. Provide the Residency Affidavit questionnaire and your parents’ most recent California Income taxes indicating that you are their legal dependent as well as a copy of either parents’ California driver’s license that meets the year and one-day residency requirement. If you filed California taxes for the most recent tax year you can provide them along with your California driver’s license that meets the year and one-day residency requirement; or
  2. You are able to reclassify under the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption (AB540) if you attended a California high school for at least three years and graduated from a California High School. You must submit the Residency Affidavit Questionnaire and the AB540 Form; or
  3. If you attended an out of state school and you were classified as a nonresident and paid nonresident fees, we will need such Verification from the out of state school, the Residency Affidavit, and two other California documents from the list that is provided in the Residency packet.

Please note that we are unable to reclassify you as a California resident without the Residency questionnaire and documentation. Once a student is classified as a nonresident student, California State Auditors require that we attach to the student’s application the Residency Questionnaire and supporting documentation that indicates the student qualifies for in-state fees.

Did you apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) - status must be approved and must date back one year and one day prior to the first day of the semester to be considered for CA residency for tuition purposes

California law (AB540) provides for students who meet the criteria to be considered as residents for tuition purposes. This applies to students who may be an alien without lawful immigration status, as well as to students who have moved out of state and subsequently returned to California. A student is exempt from paying nonresident tuition if the student meets all of the following four requirements:

  1. The student must have:
    • attended a combination of California high school, adult school, and California Community College for the equivalent of three years or more, or
    • attained credits earned in California from a California high school equivalent to three or more years of full-time high school course work and attended a combination of elementary, middle and/or high schools in California for a total of three or more years, and
  2. The student must have:
    • graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example, passing the GED or California High School Proficiency exam), or
    • completed an associate degree from a California Community College, or
    • completed the minimum requirements at a California Community College for transfer to the California State University or the University of California, and
  3. The student must register as an entering student at, or current enrollment at, an accredited institution of higher education in California, and
  4. The student must file an affidavit with the college or university stating that if the student is a non-citizen without current or valid immigration status, the student has filed an application to legalize immigration status, or will file an application as soon as the student is eligible to do so.

The following are legally mandated or permissible exemptions from payment of nonresident tuition, but it is important to know that they do not change a student’s resident status.

SB 141 U.S. Citizen Children of Deported Parent:

  • Education Code 76140

Effective January 1, 2014, districts are required to exempt from nonresident tuition a nonresident student who is a U.S. citizen and meets all of the following requirements:

  1. Demonstrates a financial need for the exemption
  2. Has a parent or guardian who has been deported or was permitted to leave voluntarily under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act (must provide USCIS documentation)
  3. Moved abroad as a result of the parent/guardian departure
  4. Lived in California immediately before moving abroad (must provide documentation)
  5. Attended public or private high school in California for at least three years (must provide documentation to support three years of attendance)
  6. Upon enrolling, will be in his/her first academic year as a matriculated student in a California public college or university
  7. Will be living in California and will file an affidavit with the college that he/she intends to establish residency in California as soon as possible
  8. Provides documentation as required by statute under EC 76140

Military Resident Exemption

  • A student who is a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in California on active duty, except a member of the armed forces assigned for educational purposes to a state-supported institution of higher education, is entitled to resident classification.
  • A student who is a natural or adopted child, step-child, or spouse who is a dependent of a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in California on active duty shall be entitled to resident classification until the student has resided in the state the minimum time necessary to become a resident. Should that member of the armed forces of the United States be thereafter transferred on military orders to a place outside the continental United States where the member continues to serve in the armed forces of the United States, the student shall not lose the resident classification until after residing in the state the minimum time necessary to become a resident.
  • A student who was a member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in California on active duty for more than one year immediately prior to being discharged from the armed forces is entitled to resident classification for the length of time he or she lives in California after being discharged up to the minimum time necessary to become a resident.
  • A parent who is a federal civil service employee and his or her natural or adopted dependent children are entitled to resident classification if the parent has moved to this state as a result of a military mission realignment action that involves the relocation of at least 100 employees. This classification shall continue until the student is entitled to be classified as a resident, so long as the student continuously attends an institution of public higher education.
  • A student claiming the residence classifications provided for in this procedure must provide a statement from the student’s commanding officer or personnel officer providing evidence of the date of the assignment to California, and that the assignment to active duty in California is not for educational purposes. A student claiming the residence classifications provided for here for the dependent of military personnel shall provide a statement from the military person’s commanding officer or personnel officer that the military person’s duty station is in California on active duty as of the residence determination date, or has been transferred outside of California on active duty after the residence determination date, or that the military person has retired from active duty after the residence determination date.

Veterans Access, Choice and Accessibility Act (VACA):

  • Education Code 68075.7

Under the federal Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act (VACA), “covered individuals” are exempt from paying nonresident tuition in order to maintain their VA approval to administer GI Bill educational benefits. “Covered individuals” are defined as persons who reside in California and are:

  1. Military veterans eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) or Post 9/11 GI Bill educational benefits programs who had at least 90 days of active duty service and enroll within three years of their honorable discharge
  2. Individuals eligible to receive transferred educational benefits under either the MGIB-AD or Post 9/11 GI Bills who enroll within three years of the transferor’s honorable discharge from a period of at least 90 days active duty.
  3. Individuals, eligible for transferred Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits while the transferor is on active duty who reside (live) in California (regardless of his/her formal state of residence) as described in 38 USC 3679(c)(2)(B)(ii)(II). The 3-year enrollment period limitation does not apply to eligible dependents of active duty service members.
  4. Individuals, eligible for benefits under the Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship. The Fry Scholarship provides Post-9/11 benefits to the children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty while on active duty. Prior to the December 2016 VACA Act change, individuals using the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship were required to enroll within 3 years of the service members death, and there was a requirement that the deceased service member’s death in the line of duty followed a period of active

Nonresident Minor High School Student Exemption

Nonresident special “part-time” students (other than those with non-immigrant status, such as those present in the United States on a B Visitor Visa *) admitted on a part-time basis on the recommendation of their principal are exempt from paying Nonresident Tuition.

September 11, 2001 Exemption

If an individual who was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., or the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 was a resident of California on September 11, 2001, or if their dependent was a resident on that date and if they meet the financial need requirement for the Cal Grant A Program, the dependents of this individual may be exempt from nonresident tuition. If the dependent is a spouse, the exemption applies until January 1, 2013. If the dependent is a child, the exemption applies until the person reaches the age of 30.

AB 2210 Fee Exemption to Eligible Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and refugee students

Exemption from Nonresident Tuition” Education Code section 68075.6 grants an immediate nonresident tuition fee exemption to eligible Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and refugee students who settled in California upon entering the United States. This exemption is granted to one year from the date the student settled in California upon entering the United States. This exemption applies to the following:

  • Iraqi citizens or nationals (and their spouses and children) who were employed by or on behalf of the United States Government in Iraq
  • Afghan and Iraqi translators (and their spouses and children) who worked directly with the United States Armed Forces
  • Afghanistan nationals who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan
  • Refugee students admitted to the United States under Section 1157 of Title 8 of the United States Code