Future Students

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How to Apply - Residency

The laws of California require every student attending the California State University to be classified as either a resident or nonresident for tuition fee purposes. The rules for determining the residence status of students attending CSU are stated in the Uniform Student Residency Requirements contained in California Education Code sections 68000 - 68084 and 68120 - 68134. California Code of Regulations, Title 5, sections 41901 through 41916 contain the implementing requirements necessary to establish residence for tuition fee purposes set forth in the Education Code.

Residence, for purposes of tuition fee classification is the location where a person is considered to have the most settled and permanent connection, where that person intends to remain, and to return. The Uniform Student Residence Requirements define residence as "the place where one remains when not called elsewhere for labor or other special or temporary purpose, and to which s/he returns in seasons of repose" (Education Code § 68062(b)). Each person may have only one residence. Residence may be changed only by a combination of physical presence and intention to remain at a new place indefinitely. A former residence is not lost until a new one is gained (Education Code § 68062(c)).

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Why should I establish residency?

If you intend to remain in the state of California after you’ve obtained a degree and make the state your permanent home for the foreseeable future you should take steps to establish residence here.  After you establish residency you’ll be eligible to pay lower registration tuition fees charged to residents of California.

The general rule is that a student must have established and maintained permanent residence in California for at least one year immediately preceding the residence determination date in order to qualify as a resident student for tuition fee purposes. The residence determination date is set for each academic term and is the date from which residence is determined for that term.

Residence Determination Dates:

  • September 20 for fall semester
  • January 25 for spring semester
  • June 1 for the summer semester

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How do I qualify as a resident?

Applicants 19 years of age or older by the residence determination date are considered adults for residency purposes. To be eligible for resident status students must maintain physical presence in California, show intent to make California his or her permanent home and be a citizen or be granted and maintain an allowable immigration status for one year prior to September 20 for the fall semester, and one year prior to January 25 for the spring semester.

Evidence of intent to make California one's permanent home may include, but is not limited to:

  • California voter registration and voting in California elections.
  • California driver's license.
  • California automobile registration.
  • California State income tax obligations on total income.
  • Ownership of residential property or continuous occupancy or renting of an apartment on a lease basis where your personal belongings are kept.
  • Active savings and/or checking accounts in a California bank.
  • Immigration status with legal capacity to establish California residency.
  • Maintaining a permanent military address and home of record in California.
  • Military leave and earning statements showing California as legal residence.

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What is an eligible citizenship, visa, or immigration status for residency purposes?

To establish residency a student must be a U.S. citizen, a legal immigrant (alien registration card holder), or hold a visa that does not preclude them from establishing domicile in the United States pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

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How do I qualify for resident status as a minor student?

Applicants younger than 19 years of age by the residence determination date generally derive legal residence from the parent with whom the minor maintains or last maintained his or her place of abode. Minor students must report parental information, as well as their own, to verify California residence.

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How do I qualify for an exception/exemption from non-resident tuition fees?

If you are a teacher, active duty military service member, or a CSU staff member you may be eligible for an exception from paying non-resident tuition fees. Contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for more information.

If you have attended a California high school for three or more years, AND you’ve graduated from a California high school you may qualify for the exemption created by the law, AB540. Those that hold non-immigrant visas are not eligible for the AB540 exemption.

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What should I do if I think my residence status is incorrect?

Applicants and new students should complete and submit the CSU Residence Questionnaire as well as copies of any supporting documents (listed above under “Evidence of intent”) for review. Current students should file for reclassifications (see below). If you have any questions, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Mail all documents to:

San Francisco State University
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
Student Services Building
San Francisco, CA 94132

Students incorrectly classified as residents or incorrectly granted an exception from nonresident tuition fees are subject to reclassification as nonresidents and payment of nonresident tuition fees retroactively. If incorrect classification results from false or concealed information, the student is subject to disciplinary action pursuant to Section 41301 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.

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What if my residence status changes?

If you are a current student and your residency situation changes you must immediately notify The Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Current students classified as non-resident who now meet the residency requirements can file a request for reclassification. Complete and submit the CSU Residence Reclassification Request Form and supporting documents for review.

Reclassification requests usually take approximately 15 business days to be reviewed and completed after all required documents have been received. All reclassification requests and supporting documentation will be accepted for review on or after the following dates for the appropriate term.

Residence Reclassification Submission Dates:

  • March 1 for the fall semester
  • September 15 for spring semester
  • February 1 for summer semester

Reclassification applicants must prove financial independence from parents for the current year AND for three years prior to the current year according (Education Code §68044).  If you have any questions, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

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How can I appeal my residence classification?

If you’ve received a final campus decision on your residence classification you may appeal the campus’ decision within 120 days of notification by writing to:

The California State University
Office of General Counsel
401 Golden Shore, 4th Floor
Long Beach, California 90802-4210

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Where can I go for further information?

For more information about the laws governing residence for tuition fee purposes, please refer to California Education Code, sections 6800-68090, 68120-68134, 89705-89707.5, and in Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, sections 41900-41916.

You can also visit our Top Ten Things to Know about California Residency webpage for more information.

This summation is by no means a complete explanation of all the rules governing the establishment of California residency.

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