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Office of the Registrar
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The information below is a brief summary on who is considered a California Resident for tuition purposes. Detailed and updated California Residency Information including rules relating to minors and exceptions to residence regulations can be found in the Residence Policy and Guidelines provided by Office of General Counsel.
Supplemental Tuition for Nonresident Students
If you have not been living in California with intent to make it your permanent home for more than one year immediately before the residence determination date for each semester in which you propose to attend the University, you must pay non-resident supplemental tuition in addition to all other fees. The residence determination date is the day instruction begins at the last of the University of California campuses to open on the semester system.
Who is a California Resident?
If you are an adult student (over 18 years of age) you may establish residence for tuition purposes in California if: (1) you are a U.S. citizen, (2) you are a permanent resident or other immigrant; or (3) you are a non-immigrant who is not precluded from establishing a domicile in the U.S. To establish residence for tuition purposes, you must satisfy the following 3 conditions:
- Physical presence: You must be physically present in California for more than one year (366 days) immediately prior to the residence determination date of the term for which resident classification is requested. You must have come here with the intent to make California your home as opposed to coming to this state to go to school. It’s the burden of the student to clearly demonstrate retention of California residence during periods of absence from the state.
- Intent to become a California resident: Demonstrate through objective documentation that your physical presence was coupled with the intent to make California your permanent home. Intent is evaluated as an independent element of residence, separate from physical presence, and is demonstrated by establishing residential ties in California, and relinquishing all ties to the former place of residence. You must demonstrate your intention to make California your home by severing your residential ties with your former state of residence and establishing those ties with California.
Your intent will be questioned if you return to your former state of residence when the university is not in session. Documentary evidence is required and all relevant indications will be considered in determining your classification.
A student who is in the state solely for educational purposes will NOT be classified as a resident for tuition purposes regardless of the length of his or her stay.
- Financial independence: To be classified a resident for tuition and fee purposes, a student who is not dependent on a California-resident parent must demonstrate financial independence (total self –sufficiency) for two full years immediately preceding the residence determination date. The financial independence requirement will not be a factor in residence determination if you are a student who is financially dependent upon a California resident parent who meets the university’s requirements for residence for tuition purposes (one year physical presence with intent to remain in the state). Financial independence will not be a factor for residence determination if you meet one of the following criteria. You:
- Have natural or adoptive parent(s), upon whom you are financially dependent, who meet the requirements for California residence for purposes of tuition and fees, or
- Are at least 24 years of age by Dec. 31 of the calendar year of the term for which classification is requested, or
- Are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, or
- Are a ward of the court or both parents are deceased, or
- Have a legal dependent other than a spouse or registered domestic partner, or
- Are a married student, or a registered domestic partner, or a graduate student or professional student, AND you were not claimed as an income tax deduction by any individual for the one tax year immediately preceding the term for which resident classification is requested, or
- Are a graduate or professional student who is employed at UC 49% or more time (or awarded the equivalent in university-administered funds, e.g., grants, stipends, fellowships) in the term for which resident classification is requested, or
- You reached the age of majority (18 years) in California while your parents were residents (for tuition purposes) of this state AND California resident parents leave the state to establish a residence elsewhere, AND you continue to reside in the state of California after the parents’ departure.
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If you are a nonresident student who is in the process of establishing a residence for tuition purposes and you return to your former home during non-instructional periods, your presence in the state will be presumed to be solely for educational purposes and only convincing evidence to the contrary will rebut this presumption. (A student who is in the state solely for educational purposes will not be classified as a resident for tuition purposes regardless of the length of stay.)
If you are a student who has been classified as a resident for tuition purposes and you leave the state temporarily, your absence could result in the loss of your California residence. The burden will be on you (or your parents if you are a minor) to verify that you did nothing inconsistent with your claim of a continuing California residence during your absence.
Steps that you (or your parents) should take to retain a California residence include:
- Continue to claim California residence and address on all records such as educational, employment, or military.
- Retain your California voter’s registration and absentee ballot.
- Maintain a California driver’s license and car registration, or change them back within the time prescribed by law.
- Return to California during all your breaks, vacations, holidays, etc.
- Continue to satisfy California tax obligations. (Note: if you are claiming California residence, you are liable for payment of income taxes on your total income from the date you establish residence in the state, including income earned in another state or country.)
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Petitioning for Resident Classification
At least a year before you start your first semester of classes, begin the process of becoming a California resident. Establish a physical presence by living in California for 366 days prior to the first day of instruction you wish to be a resident. Establish your intent to become a California resident by changing your ties immediately from your previous residence to this state. Meet one of the financial independence requirements.
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If you were incorrectly classified as a resident, you are subject to a nonresident classification and must pay all unpaid nonresident supplemental tuition. If you concealed information or furnished false information and were classified incorrectly as a result, you are also subject to University discipline. Resident students who become nonresidents must immediately notify the residency deputy.
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Inquiries and Appeals
Inquiries regarding residence requirements, determination and/or recognized exceptions should be directed to the Residence Deputy, Office of the Registrar, at UC Merced (209-228-7178 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org). To appeal a decision you have 30 days following the date of the campus decision to submit a completed Application to Appeal along with a copy on your nonresident decision by email: email@example.com; FAX: 510-987-9757, Attention: Residency Analyst or by MAIL: Residency Analyst, UC Office of the General Counsel, 1111 Franklin Street, 8th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200.