Residency Requirements

How to Establish Residency in Washington State and Qualify for In-State Tuition


Tracey Songao

Enrollment/Residency Specialist


Tuition for CPTC is calculated based on your residency status. CPTC follows state-regulated criteria for residency status and the documents needed to verify residency status. The following is a summary of residency requirements in Washington State. Please visit Access Washington for official information on state residency requirements.

If you’re having trouble understanding the residency requirements, the State of Washington recommends checking out the UW pages on establishing residency.

Qualifying as a Washington Resident

To qualify as a resident student, state law requires that you establish a bona fide domicile in the state of Washington for a period of one year, for purposes other than educational, prior to the start of the semester or quarter for which you intend to register. You also have to be able to prove that you are a U.S. Citizen, have a U.S. permanent-resident card or have a qualifying visa.

Residency Requirements

The advice from the state Attorney General is that an individual must do everything a Washington resident is required to do:

  1. Students must prove conclusively that they have not come to Washington State primarily for educational purposes. Current guidelines require students who are enrolled for 7 credits or more a quarter must be employed at least 30 hours per week at a non-student job to overcome the presumption of educational purposes.
  2. Live in the state for at least 12 consecutive months as legal residents. A legal resident is an individual who has relinquished all valid legal ties (e.g., driver’s license, voter registration, etc.) with their former state of residence and established such ties in Washington in accordance with state and local legislation.
  3. Establish legal ties:
    • Employment. (if taking more than 6 credits a quarter during the first year of being present in Washington State).
    • Driver’s license/state ID. Students must obtain a Washington State Driver’s License within 30 days of arrival if they have a current out-of-state driver’s license. Students who do not possess a driver’s license from any state must obtain a Washington State Identification Card.
    • Vehicle registration. Students who own or drive a vehicle in Washington must be registered in Washington within 30 days of arrival.
    • Voter registration. Students who have a current out-of-state voter’s registration must register to vote in Washington within 30 days of arrival. If an individual has previously registered to vote in another state, they must register to vote in Washington. If the student does not register to vote in Washington, this means that s/he may still vote absentee in the prior state of residency.
    • Establish a bank account in Washington.
  4. Be financially independent for the current and prior calendar years. (Students who are not 25 years of age or older must submit their parents’ most recent tax returns).

Once the individual is in full compliance with all of Washington’s requirements for residency, then s/he, as of that final date of compliance, has established domicile. Once domicile is established, the student is eligible for in-state tuition 12 months from the date of arrival if all legal ties were in place within 30 days. This is because the Washington statute says that domicile must be in existence for one year immediately prior to the first day of the quarter for which the student wants to be classified as a resident.

Examples of other factors that may help students establish proof of domicile include: disposition of property in the former state of residence, relocation of household members, participation in local community organizations, and generally becoming involved in activities that will help prove their intent to make Washington their official place of residence.

Determining Whether You’re an Independent or Dependent Student

According to RCW 28B.15.012, the term ‘resident student’ shall mean:
“Who has had a domicile in the state of Washington for the period of one year immediately prior to the time of commencement of the first day of the semester or quarter for which the student has registered at any institution and has in fact established a bona fide domicile in this state primarily for purposes other than educational.”

To qualify as an independent resident student, you cannot be claimed as a dependent on anyone’s income tax return, and you cannot have received funds from an agency that requires residency in another state.

Financially Dependent Students

For students age 24 or younger

To qualify as a resident financially dependent student, one or both of the student’s parents or legal guardians must have maintained a bona fide domicile in the state of Washington for at least one year immediately prior to commencement of the semester or quarter for which the student has registered at any institution. Your parent or legal guardian has to have claimed you as a dependent on their federal income tax return.

You and your parent or legal guardian need to submit the Residence Questionnaire Form. Students must provide picture ID and fill out the front of the form. The parent or legal guardian must fill out the back of the form and provide three of the following pieces of documentation from the previous calendar year to prove they have established a domicile in Washington:

  • WA state driver’s license or ID card
  • Income tax return for previous calendar year
  • Vehicle registration
  • Resident Alien Card
  • Domicile documentation—e.g. lease, home purchase documentation, letter from landlord
  • Bank statement or letter indicating when account was opened
  • Voter registration card
  • Bills, e.g. utilities, credit card, cell phone

Absence for Educational Purposes

All Washington residents who have attended an out-of-state college or university need to submit the Residence Questionnaire Form along with additional documentation:

  • Proof the student had a bona fide domicile in Washington prior to leaving the state
  • Proof from the out-of-state college or university showing the student was enrolled as a nonresident and paid nonresident tuition. If it was a private school, provide verification of enrollment.
  • Proof of maintaining all ties with Washington State (such as driver's license, vehicle registration, voter's registration, bank accounts, property, etc.)

Things That Disqualify You for Residency Status

You cannot qualify for residency if you—or your parent, if you’re financially dependent—have:

  • An out-of-state driver’s license
  • An out-of-state vehicle registration
  • Any other document that gives evidence of being domiciled in another state
  • Received financial assistance from another state’s government in the past year
  • Been attending a Washington college or university as a participant in the National Student Exchange program from another state in the past year

Military Personnel and Discharged Members

Active Duty Members stationed in WA or National Guard Members

To apply for resident tuition as an active duty military member/National Guard member or as a member’s spouse or dependents, you must:

  • Submit the following supporting documentation:
    • Student’s military ID (front copy only), and
    • Copy of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders for an installation in WA.

Discharged Members

Effective June 12, 2014, veterans who separate from the military under honorable conditions after at least two years of service and enters an institution of higher education in Washington within one year of the date of separation AND meets at least one of the following conditions, may be eligible to pay resident tuition per Senate Bill 5318:

  1. At the time of separation designated Washington as his/her intended domicile; or
  2. Has Washington as his/her official home of record; or
  3. Moves to Washington and established a domicile as determined in RCW.28B.15.013.

To apply for resident tuition as a veteran and have met at least one of the above conditions, you must:

  • Submit a copy of your DD-214 showing Washington as your home of record

If Washington is not your home of record, you must:

  • Submit a copy of your DD-214, and
  • Submit at least one of the following:
    • Copy of Washington driver's license
    • Copy of Washington vehicle registration form
    • Copy of Washington voter registration card
    • Copy of Washington property ownership/documentation

Washington Members Stationed Elsewhere

For members or dependents that are from Washington, but stationed in another state or overseas, students must:

  • Complete a Residency Questionnaire Form, and
  • Submit documentation of active military member's L.E.S. (Leave and Earnings Statement), or home of record documentation, and
  • Military ID (front copy only), and
  • At least one of the following documentation that you are maintaining your Washington legal ties while being stationed elsewhere:
    • Driver’s license
    • Voter’s registration
    • Vehicle registration
    • Bank account showing date opened
    • Property ownership

Eligible Undocumented

House Bill 1079

A Washington law determines whether students can be considered residents of Washington eligible to pay in-state resident tuition rates at public institutions (RCW 28B.15.012). This law was revised in 2003 to allow certain students attending public colleges and universities to be eligible for resident student tuition rates. In 2014, Senate Bill 6523 - the Real Hope Act was passed. The state's financial aid law was amended so that these students are eligible to be considered for need-based state aid (State Need Grant) if they are attending either public or participating private colleges in Washington.

To qualify for resident status, students must complete the Washington Higher Education Residency Affidavit/Declaration/Certification if they have met the following conditions:

  1. Completed the full senior year of high school and obtained a high school diploma at a Washington public or private high school or received the equivalent of a diploma;
  2. Lived in Washington for at least three calendar years (36 months) immediately prior to receiving the diploma or its equivalent;
  3. Continuously lived in the State of Washington after receiving the diploma or its equivalent and until such time as the student is admitted to an institution of higher education.

To apply for resident status and have met all conditions listed above, you must:

Application Check Lists (list of required documents for application):

Application Process:

Incomplete and supporting documents will not be considered for review. Emailed or faxed forms will not be accepted. Student's failure to disclose and submit complete and accurate information and all required documents may result in denial or reversal of the student's resident classification.

Deadline: Forms and all supporting documentation must be submitted by the 30th calendar day for which the application is made. Documentation received after the 30th day will be considered for the following quarter. Students are not refunded for previous quarters attended prior to application for change of resident status.