Residency Classification


 In 2013 the NC General Assembly legislatively directed UNC General Administration (GA), the NC Community College System (NCCCS), the NC State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) and the NC Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) to create a centralized, uniform process for determining residency for tuition purposes and for administration of state financial aid. This centralized process is known as the Residency Determination Service (RDS). In order for a student to receive the benefits of in-state tuition a residency determination from RDS is required as part of admission starting in March 2017.

Determining Residency Status

The specific requirements for establishing residency for tuition classification purposes are prescribed by state law. A North Carolina resident for tuition purposes is a person, or a dependent person (dependent according to IRS tax code), whose parent or legal guardian has established and maintained legal residence in North Carolina for at least 12 months. Residence in North Carolina must be legitimate and be a permanent situation rather than just for the purpose of maintaining a residence prior to enrollment at an institution of higher education.

Under North Carolina law, to qualify for in-state tuition, you must show that:

  • You have established your legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina
  • You have maintained that domicile for at least twelve (12) consecutive months before the beginning of the academic term or semester
  • You have a residentiary presence in the state
  • You intend to make North Carolina your permanent home indefinitely (rather than being in North Carolina solely to attend college)

Other persons not meeting the 12-month legal residence requirement may be classified as North Carolina residents for tuition purposes only if they fall within one of the limited categories authorized by the North Carolina Legislature.  All other persons are ineligible for classification as a North Carolina “resident for tuition purposes” and will be charged out-of-state tuition. To learn more about residency and complete a determination go to or contact RDS at: 844-896-2411 (phone), 919-835-2427 (fax)

What to expect when using RDS

Applicants can complete the RDS process before, during, or after completing the admissions application. You will only have to complete the process once, no matter how many NC college or university admissions applications you complete. You will complete an online interview and may be asked to provide documentation afterward. Required information will include identification numbers for you and/or your parents, such as you might provide for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is a good idea to have this kind of information easily available at the time you complete the RDS interview. If you do not, RDS will save any confirmed information and allow you to re-enter the interview process where you left off.

See the PDFs below for more detailed information

Just the Basics

Basics for Adult Students

Basics for High School Students

Basics for Counselors and Advisors

High School Infographic

Don't Make These Mistakes

Process to Change Profile Errors

Reconsideration and Appeal(s) Factsheet

Reconsideration and Appeal(s) Factsheet (Spanish)

Recover Username-Password Reset

Top Ten Things to Know as You Start

Side-by-Side RDS and FAFSA

Applicants with questions not covered by this section should contact the Registrar at 252-738-3265 or .