The laws of California distinguish between residents and nonresidents for tuition purposes. Tuition and fees are subject to state budget approval. Current fees, including non-resident tuition, can be found here. Residency is based on age, physical presence, intent, and financial independence. State requirements to establish residency for tuition purposes are independent from those of other types of residency, such as for tax purposes, jury duty or other state or institutional residency. A resident for tuition purposes is someone who meets the requirements set forth in the California Educational Code, Section 68000-68084 and 68120-68134, and Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, sections 41901-41915. A Residence Determination Date is set for each academic term and is the date from which residence is determined. Residency is determined after the student has been accepted for admissions, or upon request for a residency reclassification.
Residence Determination Date
Adult students (students who are 19 years old by the Residence Determination Date for the quarter to which he/she is applying) may establish their own residency for tuition purposes in California if they are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or other immigrant; or someone in nonimmigrant status who is not precluded from establishing a domicile in the U.S. The student must establish clear evidence of his/her intent to abandon the derived residence of their out-of-state parent(s) and adopt a new residence. A married person will establish his or her residency independent of his or her spouse.
Minor unmarried students (students who are less than 19 years old by the Residence Determination Date) derive their legal residency from the natural parent or adoptive parent with whom the minor maintains, or last maintained, his or her place of abode. The residence of a minor cannot be changed by the minor's own act, by the appointment of a legal guardian, or by the relinquishment of a parent's right of control as long as the minor's parents are still living. That parent must be a California resident, as established by the California Education Code, for at least one year immediately prior to the residence determination date for the minor to qualify for California residency.
A non-U.S. citizen may establish residency unless precluded by the Immigration and Nationality Act from establishing a domicile in the United States . An unmarried minor derives his or her residence from their natural or adoptive parents. A non-U.S. citizen adult may establish his or her own residence based on established guidelines and timeliness.
To be classified as a resident for tuition purposes, a student (or parent in the case of a minor), must demonstrate the following one year immediately prior to the Residence Determination Date.
- Physical Presence. The student must establish a physical presence in California more than one year immediately prior to the Residence Determination Date of the term for which classification as a resident is requested. Continuous physical presence is not mandatory, but a student who leaves California has the burden of clearly demonstrating their retention of California residence during periods of absence. Failure to do so will result in a determination of non-resident. Cal Poly does not recommend or approve student out-of-state absences.
- Intent. The student must demonstrate through objective documentation that their physical presence was coupled with the intent to make California their permanent home. Evidence of intent must be in place one year immediately prior to the Residence Determination Date. Intent is an independent element of residence, and is demonstrated by establishing residential ties in California, and relinquishing ties to the former place of residence. Physical presence within California solely for educational purposes does not constitute establishment of California residence. Proofs of intent must be in place one year prior to the Residence Determination Date, and can include, but are not limited to:
- Registering to vote and voting in California.
- Registering a motor vehicle owned or operated in California.
- Obtaining a California driver's license or ID card.
- Filing a resident or nonresident state personal income tax return.
- Establishing a permanent residence in California.
- Maintaining an active bank account with a bank with a California branch.
- Licensing from the state for professional practice.
- Listing a permanent California address on home of record, or other military records.
- Maintaining active resident memberships in professional organizations.
- Financial Independence. In the case of a residency reclassification request, the campus must also consider whether the student is financially dependent on a parent, regardless if the parent is a California resident or nonresident, as defined as defined in the California Education Code, section 68044 which mandates that any student who has been claimed as a dependent on anyone's income tax return within the past three years, who has accepted more than $750 in financial support in any form, or lived with a parent during the past three years shall not be considered financially independent and therefore, cannot meet the core requirement of demonstrated financial independence necessary to qualify for reclassification from nonresident to resident.
The burden of proof of residency rests solely with the student. Students from whom additional information is required will be contacted by letter or email with further instructions. Students who do not qualify as California residents for tuition purposes will be notified in writing and given the opportunity to appeal to the California State University Chancellor's Office.
A student who has been classified as a nonresident may seek reclassification for any subsequent term. The student must complete the CSU Residency Reclassification Request Form, and the Cal Poly Supplemental Residence Reclassification Form, and submit both forms to the Admissions Office, Room 206, Building 1, or mail them to Admissions Office, Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0031. Residency reclassification requests take approximately three to four weeks for processing. Students are encouraged to apply during the quarter prior to the requested reclassification term. Processing of applications submitted during the requested quarter may not be processed in time to avoid non-resident tuition fees from being assessed. Until a decision is made, students will remain classified as non-residents and are responsible for on-time payment of nonresident fees. In addition to the Residency Reclassification Request Form, students must also submit copies of the following supporting documentation:
- Most current state driver's license or ID card.
- Most current state voter registration.
- Most current state vehicle registration for cars owned or operated in California.
- Most current state and federal tax returns, with W-2s for last tax year.
- Proof of bank accounts with a branch located within California and date opened.
- Last three years federal income tax returns for parents (only page 1 of Form 1040 needed for each year).
Students may be asked to provide other documentation to clarify or verify their application for reclassification. Failure to provide these documents, or Residency Reclassification Forms submitted with incomplete information, will significantly delay the reclassification process, and may result in a denial of reclassification.
- Download CSU Residence Reclassification Form
- Download Cal Poly's Supplemental Residence Reclassification Form (must be included with CSU Residency Reclassification Form)
Students denied for reclassification will be notified by letter and have the right to appeal to the California State University Chancellor's Office. Details will be provided in the letter of denial.
Students approved for reclassification are advised that approval may affect financial aid disbursement or awards and may result in the need for repayment of funds already received.Contact the Financial Aid Office at 805-756-2927 for specific details.
Important note: This summation is not a complete explanation of the laws regarding California residence for tuition purposes. Applicable sections of the California Education Code and Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations are available for review at the Admissions Office, Room 206, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm . You may also review them on-line at:
You may also contact the Admissions Office with questions concerning residency issues not covered here.