How to Establish Residency in Washington State and Qualify for In-State Tuition
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 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 (A,E,G,H,I,K,L). DACA approved status may be eligible as well.
The advice from the state Attorney General is that an individual must do everything a Washington resident is required to do:
- 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, to be employed at least 30 hours per week at a non-student job to overcome the presumption of educational purposes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
Are you 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.”