California Residency Information

The rules regarding establishing legal residence for tuition purposes at Merced College are governed by California Education Code and California Code of Regulations (Title 5).  Residency classifications are made at the time that applications for admissions are accepted or when a student has been absent for more than 1 semester.

On this Page:

Who is a California Resident?

An adult who is not an alien present in the U.S. in a nonimmigrant status which precludes them from establishing domicile in the U.S. (such as B, F. H2, H3, or J Visa) and wishes to be classified as a resident for tuition purposes, must have established continuous presence in California more than one year and one day prior to the start of the semester in which they wish to attend.  They must present evidence that they intend to make California their permanent home.

Evidence of intent must be dated one year and one day before the term for which a person seeks resident classification.  Physical presence within the state solely for educational purposes does not constitute the establishment of California residency under state law, regardless of the length of a person’s stay.  Residency cannot be derived from a spouse nor, an adult person’s parent. Likewise a registered domestic partner does not derive residence from the other domestic partner.

(top)


To be Eligible for California Residency, You Must:

1. Be a a U.S. citizen or hold a U.S. Immigration status that does not prevent establishment of residency.

  • The following visa status holders CANNOT establish residency: B-1, B-2, C, D-1, D-2, F-1, F-2, F-3, H-2, H-3, J-1, J-2, M-1, M-2, M-3, O-2, P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, Q and TN/TD.

2. Verify physical presence in California for one year and one day prior to the first day of instruction for the semester (the residency determination date).

3. Clearly verify through documentation the intent to make California your permanent place of residence.

Residency Documentation

The student must provide a minimum of three documents as proof of continuous physical presence and intent to reside in California. The documents must include the student’s name, the student’s California address, and a date at least one year and one day prior to the first day of the semester.

Table: Supplementary Documentation That May Be Used to Prove Residency Factors
Supplementary documentation that may be used to prove residency factors Physical Presence Intent Financial Independence
Ownership of residential property in California or rental/lease agreement showing continued occupancy in California X X  
Registered to vote, and voting in California   X  
License from a California professional practice X X  
Maintained a business or employment in California (prior yr tax returns and current yr pay stub) X X  
Active resident membership in California service or social clubs   X  
Payment of California personal income tax as a resident
If the end of the tax year does not fall one year and one day prior to resident determination date, one of the following documents is also required: check stubs, letter from employer or other verification
X X X
Possession of California motor vehicle license plates/registration X X  
Federal W-2, 1040 or 1040EZ showing CA address
If the end of the tax year does not fall one year and one day prior to resident determination date, one of the following documents is also required: check stubs, letter from employer or other verification
X    
Possession of California driver’s license or California DMV Identification Card X X  
Maintained a California address as the home of record in military records (DD214) and on the leave and earnings statement (LES) while in the Armed Forces X    
Maintained active savings or checking accounts in California banks (statements, checks or other documentation must show California physical address and inclusive dates) X    
Petition for divorce as a California resident X X  
Proof of jury duty service in a California court X    
Utility Bills with a California address covering a one year period prior to the residency determination date X    
Selective Service registration with a permanent California address X    
Receipt of benefits from a California state agency covering a one year period prior to the residency determination date X   X
Moving contract showing a California address X    
Affidavit from landlord verifying length of tenancy at a specific California address X    
Payment of non-resident tuition at an out-of-state institution (outside of CA) X    
Filed FAFSA as financially independent     X
Parent filed tax returns showing student was not claimed as a dependent     X

NOTE: Transcripts are not proof of residency. They merely show the student was enrolled in school. Transcripts satisfy no factors in residency determination.  Federal work study employment cannot be used as proof of intent to establish residency.  Federal work study is linked to enrollment for educational purposes.

4. Establish documented financial independence from a non-resident parent or guardian.

A person is considered financially independent if one or more of the following applies:

  • The student is at least 24 years of age by December 31 of the calendar year for which resident classification is requested
  • The student is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • The student is a ward of the court or both parents are deceased
  • The student has legal dependents other than a spouse
  • The student is married or has a registered domestic partner, and was not claimed as an income tax deduction by parents or any other individual for the tax year immediately preceding the term for which resident classification is requested
  • The student is a single undergraduate student and was not claimed as an income tax deduction by parents or any other individual for the two tax years immediately preceding the term for which resident classification is requested, and can demonstrate self-sufficiency for those two years and the current year.
  • The student reached the age of 18 in California while his or her parents were residents of California, and the parents left the state to establish a residence elsewhere while the student continued to be a resident of California after the parent’s departure.

(top)


TEN Things You Should Know About California Residency

  1. California residency for fee purposes is established by California state law and the California Code of Regulations. Merced Community College District must comply with these laws and regulations.

  2. The Merced Community College District cannot alter or waive the eligibility criteria for any reason.

  3. Under California law, if you have moved to California primarily to attend a California college, then you are likely not eligible for in-state resident fees.

  4. Living in California for 12 months is not an automatic qualification for in-state fees.

  5. You must prove through official and/or legal documents that you have moved to California permanently and are not merely living in California temporarily while you attend college, however long your course of study takes.

  6. Financial hardship cannot be considered in evaluating California residency for fee purposes eligibility.

  7. Legal ties that you maintain in another state or country (e.g., state tax liability, driver’s license, voter’s registration, etc.) will disqualify you from residency reclassification, regardless of your reason(s) for maintaining these ties.

  8. Evidence of the following will disqualify you from California residency for fee purposes:

    1. If you have been claimed as a dependent on anyone’s income tax return within the past three years
    2. Have accepted more than $750 in financial support from a parent in any form within the past three years
    3. Lived with a parent for more than six weeks a year for the last three years

      In each of these cases, you shall be considered financially dependent and therefore cannot meet the core requirement of demonstrated financial independent necessary to qualify for reclassification from non-resident to resident.
  9. Despite the length of time you attend Merced College or live in California, you might not qualify for California residency for fee purposes. The term “California resident” for fee purposes may differ from other definitions of California residency. A person who has a California driver’s license/vehicle registration or who is a California resident for tax, voting or welfare purposes may have established legal residence in the state but not necessarily be considered a resident for fee purposes.

  10. Residency reclassification applications and all supporting documentation must be submitted during the term in which reclassification is requested.  Residency reclassification should be resolved by the end of the semester in which you incurred the fees. Reclassification will not be processed beyond the end of that academic year (May/Spring term).

The burden of proof is on the student to demonstrate clearly both physical presence in the state of California and intent to establish permanent California residence.

(top)


How to Apply for Residency Reclassification

To apply for Residency reclassification consideration complete the Merced College Supplemental Residency Questionnaire, as well as all relevant documentation and submit all forms IN PERSON to the Admissions and Records office within the first 4 weeks of the term under consideration for reclassification.

If you believe you are eligible for residency reclassification through AB540, complete the AB540 form, as well as a high school transcript or diploma and submit all forms IN PERSON to the Admissions and Records office within the first 4 weeks of the term under consideration for reclassification

(top)