California Residency for Tuition Purposes

The law governing California residency for tuition purposes at the California State University is established by State Law and the California Code of Regulations. Despite the length of time you attend a California State University or live in California, you might not qualify for California residency for tuition purposes. SDSU cannot alter or waive the eligibility criteria for any reason.

The term "California resident" for tuition purposes may differ from other definitions of California residency. A person who has a California driver's license, vehicle registration, or who is a California resident for tax, voting, or welfare purposes may have established legal residence in the state but might not necessarily be considered a resident for tuition purposes.

Resident Classification

Under California law, SDSU must determine the residence status of all new and returning students. Your residence status is determined by the Office of Admissions according to your responses on the admission application, Residency Questionnaire, Reclassification Request Form, and, as necessary, other evidence furnished by you. If you do not submit requested information verifying eligibility for a resident classification, you will be classified as a nonresident for tuition purposes. Nonresidents are required to pay nonresident tuition and meet other conditions.

Non-resident applicants seeking reclassification are required to complete a supplemental questionnaire concerning their financial independence, which will be considered along with physical presence and intent during the reclassification review. Non-citizens establish residence in the same manner as citizens unless precluded by federal law from establishing domicile in the United States.

Residency reclassification applications and all supporting documentation must be submitted prior to or during the term in which reclassification is requested.

The SDSU residence determination dates are:

  • Fall semester: September 20
  • Spring semester: January 25
  • Summer term: June 1

Establishing CA Residency

To be eligible for resident classification, you must have established and maintained permanent residence in California at least one full year prior to the residence determination date. You are not eligible if you moved to California primarily to attend a California higher education institution or because you have financial hardship. You must prove that you have moved to California permanently and are not merely living in California temporarily while you attend SDSU.

If you are a student being claimed on taxes and/or largely supported by out-of-state persons during any of the past three years, you most likely will not be classified as a California resident for tuition purposes. SDSU is a tax-supported institution and expects you, or someone supporting you, to be filing California income taxes. You are expected to establish California residency separate from both of your parents and your enrollment in school. If it appears that you could not be self-supporting, it will be determined that you are most likely in California for educational purposes.

Residency determination of students and applicants under the age of 19 on the residency determination date is based on the residency status of their parents.

Evidence of Permanent Residency

Establishing residence in California for tuition purposes requires that, for at least one full year prior to the residence determination date, you have official and/or legal documents showing that you have been physically present in the state and that you intend to remain in California indefinitely. Living in California or attending SDSU for 12 months is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements.

To show your intent to remain in California, acceptable evidence includes, but is not limited to:

  • A valid visa that allows you to establish residency, if not a US citizen
  • California voter registration and voting in California elections
  • California vehicle license plates and driver's license or I.D. card
  • California state income taxes being filed the previous year
  • Active California bank account
  • Employment (or proof of support for the past year) with copies of W-2 form(s)
  • Active membership in California professional or social organizations
  • A permanent military address and home of record in California
  • Mortgage/lease/rental agreement of a residence where permanent belongings are kept

Exceptions for Special Populations

Exceptions to nonresident classification may be considered for:

  • members of the military and their dependents
  • certain credentialed employees of school districts
  • certain high school students who have attended three full years of high school in California and attained the equivalent to high school graduation

Exceptions cannot be determined without the submission of an admission application and necessary supporting documentation.

Changes to Residency Status

If you believe you are eligible for residency reclassification or if your personal registration information in the WebPortal does not indicate the correct residency status, contact the Office of the Registrar during normal business hours.

It is your responsibility to notify the Office of the Registrar of any changes in residency status. This includes changes from nonresident to resident and from resident to nonresident. Resident students who become nonresidents, or who no longer meet the criteria for an exception, must immediately notify the Office of the Registrar.

If you are incorrectly classified as a resident or incorrectly granted an exception from nonresident tuition, you are subject to reclassification as a nonresident and payment of nonresident tuition in arrears. If incorrect classification results from false or concealed facts, you are subject to discipline pursuant to Section 41301 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.

Changes may be made in the rate of nonresident tuition and in the statutes and regulations governing California residence for tuition purposes between the time this information is published and the relevant residence determination date. You are urged to review the following statutes and regulations: California Education Code sections 68000-68084, 68120-68134, and 89705-89707.5, and California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 41900-41916.