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Residency (In-State Tuition Classification)

Initial Classification

Your initial tuition classification is made at the time of application to the University and is based on the information provided on the application for admission. Failure to answer all questions could lead to an initial classification as nonresident. After your status is determined, it remains unchanged in the absence of satisfactory evidence to the contrary.

If you feel your initial tuition classification is incorrect and your initial semester has not begun, you may update your residency information with the Admissions Office (Undergraduate students) or the Graduate School (Graduate students):

New Undergraduate Students

New Graduate Students: Questions about residency should be directed to Janis Hooper Admissions Coordinator, at janis.hooper@unco.edu.

Residency Requirements

Tuition classification is regulated by state law (Title 23, Article 7, of the Colorado Revised Statutes) and by judicial decision that apply to all public institutions of higher education in Colorado. These statutes are subject to change at any time and the university does not have the discretion to make exceptions to the regulation except as prescribed by state law. For additional information, please visit the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

Qualified Individuals (Petiton Types)

  • Parent

    If you are younger than 22 years old and depend on your parents for financial support, you are an unemancipated minor.  Unemancipated minors must qualify for resident tuition through their parents or court-appointed legal guardians.

    As an unemancipated minor, you qualify for resident tuition if either of your parents, regardless of custody, has been domiciled in Colorado for the one year prior to the first day of the term, even if you reside elsewhere. 

  • Student

    You are a qualified individual and eligible to establish domicile separate from your parents if, at the beginning of the 12-month domicile year, you were:

    • 22 years of age or older;
    • Married;
    • Emancipated (100% Financially independent);
    • A graduate student
  • Emancipation

    You are an emancipated minor if:

    • you are less than 22 years old and;
    • your parents have entirely surrendered the right to your care, custody, and earnings and;
    • they are no longer under any duty to support you and;
    • they have made no provision for your support.

    You must be emancipated before you can establish a domicile separate from the domicile of your parents. This means that your parents cannot provide financial support of any nature for any ordinary or necessary expense.  Parental support includes but is not limited to:

    • gifts; 
    • loans (including PLUS loans) that you depend on for financial support; 
    • Trust funds or other assets established by your parents before the one-year domicile period are regarded as evidence of non-emancipation if the funds or assets were intended, or could reasonably have been expected, to provide support for the period you claim to be emancipated.

    Loans co-signed by parents may be considered evidence of parental support. Minors must provide documentation of any such loan agreements. 

    You may be covered under your parents’ health and automobile insurance if coverage does not require that you be a dependent and if you pay all costs, such as additional premiums and deductibles, associated with your coverage.

    Your parents may claim you as a dependent for tax purposes if emancipation commences after the beginning of that year.  For example, you would be judged emancipated as of August if your parents cease support at that time, even though they claim you as a dependent for that year.  They cannot claim you as a dependent for following years.

    If you are an emancipated minor granted resident status, you are subject to reclassification as nonresident if your parents resume support.

    If you wish to claim emancipated status, you must prove that you are completely self-supporting and financially independent from your parents.  The Tuition Classification Petition provides space for you to show all expenses and how those expenses have been met.  The burden is placed solely upon you to prove emancipation to the satisfaction of the Tuition Classification Officer.

  • Legal Guardians

    You may qualify for resident tuition through the domicile of a Colorado guardian only if your guardian has legal custody as defined by Colorado Revised Statutes §19-1-103(73). 

    • The court appointing the guardianship must certify that the primary purpose of the appointment is not to qualify the student for resident tuition;
    • The court must also certify that your parents do not provide substantial financial support; 
    • The guardianship must be in effect for at least one year; 
    • Parental signed Power of Attorney does not qualify as legal guardianship

Changes in Tuition Classification

If you feel you meet the requirements for in-state tuition, you must file a petition requesting a change in tuition classification. The procedure requires submission of a Petition for Tuition Classification with appropriate documentation to support the claim of Colorado residency. The burden of proof rests upon you, as the petitioner, to submit a timely petition with the required documentation. Petitions may be picked up at the Office of the Registrar at Bear Central in the Campus Commons or they are available for download here.

You will remain a nonresident until you have received notification from the Tuition Classification Officer indicating a residency change has been approved. If you are petitioning for in-state tuition, you remain responsible for paying your account based upon your current tuition classification. You are strongly urged to petition early during the submission period in order to receive a response from the Tuition Classification Officer prior to any applicable tuition and fees deadlines.

Criteria to Establish Residency

The specific requirements for establishing residency for tuition classification purposes are prescribed by state law. No person may establish domicile in Colorado solely for the purpose of changing a student's classification for tuition purposes from out-of-state to in-state. An individual who seeks to establish domicile while a registered student is presumed to be seeking domicile solely for tuition purposes, which is an unlawful purpose, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary [Colorado Revised Statutes § 23-7-101-103(2)(e)].  

Because Colorado law governs Colorado residency status, the fact that a student might not qualify for in-state status in any other state does not guarantee in-state status in Colorado. Moreover, it is presumed that a student classified as a nonresident at the time of matriculation who seeks to establish Colorado domicile while registered at UNC seeks Colorado domicile solely for tuition purposes. The student can rebut this presumption and be deemed an in-state resident only by a showing of clear and convincing evidence of his or her eligibility for this status.

You must be a qualified person for at least one year to be eligible to establish a Colorado domicile and begin the one-year domicile period necessary to qualify for in-state tuition. You are a qualified person and thus eligible to establish domicile and begin the one-year domicile period if you are at least 22 years old, are married, are a graduate student or are emancipated from your parents, grandparents, other family and/or friends. Persons not so qualified assume the domicile of their parents or court-appointed legal guardian. Students who are considered a qualified person under any of the criteria above are not eligible for in-state tuition through their parents. 

  • In-State Status

    In-state tuition classification status requires domicile (legal, primary residence) in Colorado for one full year immediately preceding the first day of the term. Domicile is a legal characteristic that everyone has, and you can have only one domicile at any one time.

    If your parents are not domiciled in Colorado, you must be a qualified person to begin the one-year domiciliary period. A qualified person is someone who is either:

    • at least 22 years old, or
    • married, or
    • emancipated, or
    • a graduate student.

    Persons who are not citizens of the United States should read the section regarding International/Non-US Citizens for additional information.

  • Domicile (Physical Presence and Intent to Reside)

    Domicile is defined as your true, fixed, and permanent home and place of habitation and is made up of two components:

    1. Physical presence within the state, and
    2. Intent to reside in Colorado permanently.

    Evidence of Colorado domicile includes actions that in your circumstances would normally be expected of, or that would be characteristic of, any permanent resident. For example, vehicle registration is relevant only if you have a motor vehicle. You are expected to take appropriate action on all factors relevant in your circumstances.

    New residents are allowed a reasonable period of time after first coming to Colorado to take appropriate actions consistent with domiciliary intent.

    The Tuition Classification Officer considers the following evidence, as specified by law, and any additional relevant information, when evaluating Petitions for Tuition Classification:

    Colorado driver’s license - If you have a driver’s license from another state, you must apply for a Colorado driver’s license within 30 days of moving to Colorado. If you do not drive, you may obtain a Colorado identification card.

    Motor vehicle registration - If you operate a motor vehicle, you must register it in Colorado within 90 days of moving to Colorado. This law applies to any vehicle you have, whether or not you are the registered owner.

    Voter registration - You may register to vote with your county clerk, or when you obtain your Colorado driver’s license. Although voting is not required by law, it is nonetheless an indicator of one’s intent to create a domicile.

    Permanent employment or acceptance of future permanent employment in Colorado.

    Payment of Colorado state income tax (if your income is sufficient to be taxed). All taxable income accrued after you move to Colorado, regardless of source, must be reported to the Colorado Department of Revenue. You should file part-year resident returns for each state of residence for the year you move to Colorado. For subsequent years, you should file a full-year resident Colorado return.

    Ownership of residential real property in Colorado that is your primary residence. Ownership of vacation or income property is not an indication of domicile.

    Other factors which are specific to your situation may be considered also, and should be documented.

    Because domicile is defined as true, fixed, and permanent home, persons who are physically present in Colorado only on a temporary basis cannot establish domicile merely by taking the above actions. Establishing a new domicile requires actual residence on a permanent basis.

    The following items are evidence of maintenance of domicile outside of Colorado:

    Failure to pay Colorado state income tax (if your income is sufficient to be taxed). Income earned in another state by a resident of Colorado is taxable in Colorado. Filing a nonresident Colorado tax return is persuasive evidence of domicile outside Colorado.

    Failure to comply with any law imposing a mandatory duty on a permanent resident of Colorado. Examples include failure to register a motor vehicle and failure to change your driver’s license to Colorado within the statutory periods.

    Maintenance of a home in another state.

    Prolonged absence from Colorado. Examples include residing in another state when not enrolled as a student or between academic terms.

    Any other factor which are specific to your situation that indicate non-Colorado domicile.

     Determination of domicile is a subjective decision requiring analysis of each petitioner’s individual evidence of domicile, not a checklist or formula to be blindly followed. A change in tuition classification will be made when the University official is convinced that domicile has occurred at least one full year prior to the start of the semester for which the applicant is petitioning.

    Because Colorado residency status is governed solely by Colorado regulations, lack of eligibility for in-state status in another state does not guarantee in-state status in Colorado. The tuition classification statutes place the burden of proof on you to provide clear and convincing evidence of eligibility.

    The state statutes do not allow the Tuition Classification Officer to be flexible with the established dates in determining whether or not a domicile has been established for residency status for any given semester. There is no provision in the state statutes for retroactive compliance.

    Information submitted to qualify for in-state classification is subject to independent verification. Individuals submitting false information or falsified supporting documents are subject to both criminal charges and University disciplinary proceedings.

    The only authorized information regarding residency for tuition purposes comes from the Tuition Classification Officer at the University, and the Officer is not bound by any misinformation given by other persons.

    Tuition classification is governed by state law (Colorado Revised Statutes §23-7-101, et. seq.) and by judicial decisions that apply to all public institutions of higher education in Colorado.

    The University of Northern Colorado does not have discretion to make exceptions as established by state law.