Residency Status for Tuition Classification

The state of Colorado partially subsidizes the cost of tuition for all students whose domicile, or permanent legal residence, is in Colorado. Each Western State Colorado University student is classified as either an “in-state resident” or a “non-resident” at the time of matriculation. These classifications are based upon information furnished by each student on his or her application for admission to Western.

The specific requirements for establishing residency for tuition classification purposes are prescribed by state law (Colorado Revised Statutes § 23-7-101, et seq.). 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 non-resident at the time of matriculation who seeks to establish Colorado domicile while registered at Western seeks Colorado domicile not solely for tuition purposes. The student can rebut this presumption and be deemed an in-state resident only by proof of clear and convincing evidence, of his or her eligibility for this status.

Colorado Higher Education Residency Guide

Forms

Residency Requirements

Domicile

"Domicile" is used to describe the place where an individual has demonstrated intent to make a permanent home and legal residence. Both physical presence (see #1 below) and evidence of intent (see #2 below) must be in place to begin the domicile year. A "qualified individual" must reside in Colorado with the intent to make Colorado their permanent home and legal residence.

Colorado residency requires a domicile in Colorado for 12 continuous months on or prior to the first day of classes of each semester.

Since domicile is defined as a permanent home and legal residence, being in Colorado solely for school purposes and/or temporarily for other purposes does not qualify as domicile for Colorado residency.

(1) Physical presence is your actual permanent home and legal residence. Proof of physical presence may include all of the following:

  • Lease agreements
  • Rent receipts
  • Home ownership
  • Notarized statement from a landlord

(2) Evidence of intent to make Colorado your permanent home and legal residence is demonstrated by giving up all your legal ties with your prior state and establishing them with Colorado for 12 continuous months. Proof that demonstrates evidence of intent, as specified by the residency statute, may include all the following:

  • Colorado driver’s license or valid Colorado ID
  • Colorado motor vehicle registration
  • Permanent, full-time, off-campus employment
  • Colorado voter registration
  • Change in permanent address on all pertinent records
  • Payment of Colorado state income taxes as a Colorado resident
  • Withholding of Colorado state taxes from wages
  • Ownership of residential property in Colorado

You are expected to take appropriate action on all factors relevant in your circumstance.

Evidence of legal ties outside of Colorado during the domicile year that demonstrate residency in another state may include the following:

  • Failure to file a Colorado state income tax return
  • Failure to have Colorado state income taxes withheld from your wages
  • Filing a Colorado state income tax return as a non-resident
  • Failure to obtain a Colorado driver’s license or Colorado ID
  • Maintenance of a home in another state
  • Prolonged absence from Colorado
  • Vehicle you operate is registered in another state
  • Residing in another state between academic terms or when not enrolled as a student
  • Any other factor unique to the individual which tends to imply your permanent home and legal residence is in another state

The fact that an individual does not qualify for residency in any other state does not guarantee Colorado residency.

Exceptions to One-Year Domicile Requirement

Four-Year Rule

If you are not a qualified individual and your parents had Colorado domicile for four or more years and then moved to another state after you completed your junior year of high school and you enroll at a Colorado public college or university within three years and six months after your parents left Colorado you may be eligible for Colorado residency. Please contact Student Financial Services for the appropriate form and documentation that will need to be submitted at least 4 weeks prior to the start of the semester.

Attended Colorado High School for Three Years

A student (other than a nonimmigrant alien) who meets the below criteria is eligible for in-state tuition classification. This includes U.S. Citizens, permanent resident aliens and students without lawful immigration status.
•Enrolled for at least three year at a public/private Colorado high school immediately preceding graduation or earning a GED
•Admission into Colorado institution of higher education/attends a reciprocal program within 12 months of high school graduation or earning a GED
•Students without lawful immigration status are required to submit an affidavit (onetime on the COF website) stating that the student has applied for lawful presence or will apply as soon as he or she is eligible to do so;

Students who graduated from a Colorado high school or completed GED prior to September 1, 2013 and were not admitted into college within 12 months but meet ALL other eligibility criteria may qualify for in-state tuition by providing documentation to the school proving that the student has been physically present in Colorado for eighteen months prior to enrolling. Please contact Student Financial Services if you have questions.

GI Promise

All honorably discharged veterans, their spouse and their dependents that show established domicile in CO immediately preceding the start of the semester, regardless of length of time, shall be granted in-state tuition status. A dependent is an unmarried undergraduate student and under the age of 23 on or before the first day of class.

All members of the armed forces of the United State on active duty in Colorado or the member’s spouse or dependent shall not lose his or her eligibility for in-state tuition status if the member retires or separates from the military and remains in Colorado.

Qualified Individuals

Parent Petitioners

Parents who have moved to Colorado and meet the domicile requirements may submit a "Petition for In-State Tuition Classification" which supports their domicile. If their petition is approved, their dependents are eligible for Colorado residency.

Other Qualified Individuals

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
• A graduate student

An emancipated minor is an individual under 23 years of age who is no longer considered a dependent and is not supported by their parent(s) or any other individual. An emancipated minor can begin establishing their domicile on the date they become emancipated.

Emancipation must be proven in the following way:
  • Parents or other individuals must no longer support the minor and make no provision for support. Support includes gifts, trust funds, loans, and assets established by parents or someone other than yourself on your behalf regardless of the date of receipt.
  • Parents must no longer claim the minor on their federal and state income tax returns.
  • The minor must document that they are independently able to meet all financial obligations without any financial help from any other individual.
Examples of financial obligations may include:
  • Tuition and fees
  • Rent and food
  • Medical expenses, including health insurance
  • Vehicle expenses, including insurance

If you are granted Colorado residency as an emancipated minor, you must continue to independently meet all your financial obligations, including the cost of education, without financial assistance from your parents or any other individual.

Court Appointed Legal Guardian 

A student may qualify for Colorado residency based on the domicile of their court appointed legal guardian if the guardianship has been in effect for at least one year. The legal guardian must provide court documents certifying that the primary purpose of the appointment is other than to qualify the student for Colorado residency. The court must also certify that the student’s parents do not provide financial support.

Military Members and Their Dependents

Qualifying active-duty armed forces include:

  • United States Army
  • United States Navy
  • United States Air Force
  • United States Marine Corps
  • United States Coast Guard
  • United States Public Health Service
  • United States NOAA Corps
  • Members of the Canadian Military stationed in Colorado
Active-duty Military members stationed in Colorado
  • Active-duty members of the armed forces of the United States and Canada on duty station in Colorado and their dependents (as defined by military regulations) are eligible for in-state tuition exception, regardless of Colorado domicile or length of residence in Colorado. The military member must have active-duty status and report to a duty station in Colorado. This must be certified by their military commander by the first day of the first semester the student attends Western. Active-duty military on TDY duty in Colorado are not eligible for the College Opportunity Fund. To request in-state tuition exception, the Military Tuition Adjustment Request Form must be completed and submitted no earlier than 30 days prior to the first day of classes and no later than the first day of classes.
     
  • If the parent was active-duty status in Colorado at any time during the student’s senior year at a Colorado high school and has been transferred out of Colorado, the student may be eligible for in-state tuition exception. To be eligible, the student must enroll at Western within 12 months of high school graduation and not have attended college outside of Colorado during that 12 months. To request in-state tuition exception, the parent who was active-duty must complete and submit the Military Tuition Adjustment Request Form no earlier than 30 days prior to the first day of classes and no later than the first day of classes.
     
  • Military dependents granted in-state tuition exception who maintains continuous enrollment at Western can continue to receive in-state tuition exception even if the military member transfers out of Colorado.
     
  • If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships based on being a non-resident.
     
  • If the parent was active-duty status and their dependent child completed at least 2 years of high school in Colorado (high school to be defined as freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year) but did not graduate from a Colorado high school, is a legal resident of the US and enrolled in a Colorado institution within five years.
Active-duty military members stationed outside of Colorado but domiciled in Colorado prior to enlistment
  • To retain Colorado domicile during an absence from Colorado due to military orders, military members must maintain Colorado as their legal residence for tax purposes and voter registration.
  • A person domiciled in Colorado for one year prior to enlisting in active-duty service who returns permanently to Colorado within 6 months of discharge from the military is eligible for in-state tuition exception.
  • Military members cannot establish domicile in Colorado for tuition purposes while residing elsewhere or while residing in Colorado on a temporary basis.
  • If a qualified person (the parent petitioner or emancipated student) is domiciled in Colorado for one year, they are eligible to petition for in-state tuition classification.
  • If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships bases on being a non-resident.
Colorado National Guard
  • Members of the Colorado National Guard and their dependents qualify for in-state tuition exception if the member maintains his or her sole residence in Colorado. This includes having Colorado state taxes withheld from wages, leasing or owning property in Colorado, and maintaining Colorado vehicle registration, Colorado driver's license, and Colorado voter's registration.
  • If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships bases on being a non-resident.
    GI Promise
  • All honorably discharged veterans, who show established domicile in Colorado immediately preceding the start of the semester, regardless of length of time, shall be granted in-state tuition exception. The veteran can also petition for this benefits for their spouse and dependent if the veteran established domicile in Colorado. A dependent is an unmarried undergraduate student and under the age of 23 on or before the first day of class.
  • All members of the armed forces of the United States on active duty in Colorado or the member’s spouse or dependent shall not lose his or her eligibility for in-state tuition status if the member retires or separates from the military and remains in Colorado.
  • If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships bases on being a non-resident.

International Students

Immigrant or Resident Aliens

  • Individuals who are lawful permanent residents or refugees are eligible to establish domicile for Colorado residency.
  • Individuals who have received their Resident Alien Card are eligible to establish domicile for Colorado residency.
  • Individuals who have not yet received their Resident Alien Card, but have filed the Application for Adjustment of Status, are eligible to establish domicile for Colorado residency. In these cases, the date of this application will be used as the date the petitioner was legally able to establish domicile in Colorado.

Non-immigrant Aliens

  • Individuals classified as non-immigrant aliens by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services typically cannot establish domicile for residency purposes unless they are in Colorado for purposes other than education.
  • Visa-holders in the following categories are not eligible to establish Colorado domicile for residency purposes: F-1, F-2, H-3, M-1, M-2.
  • Visa-holders in the following categories are not eligible to establish Colorado domicile for residency purposes if the visa holder is in Colorado primarily to learn: H-4, J-1, J-2.
  • All other categories of visa-holders may be eligible to establish Colorado domicile for residency purposes. Contact Student Financial Services for more information.

Petition Process and Deadlines

Steps in the Petitioning Process:

  • Complete the “Petition for In-State Tuition Classification” and attach all required documentation. The burden of proof to provide clear and convincing evidence of eligibility for Colorado residency is on the petitioner.
  • We recommend you submit your completed petition by the Priority Deadline to Submit Petition (link to chart). Petitions must be submitted no later than the deadline date.
  • Turn in or mail petitions to:

Student Financial Services
Taylor Hall L2
Western State Colorado University
600 N. Adams St.
Gunnison, CO 81231

Mailed petitions must be postmarked by the deadline date.
  • Petitions may also be faxed to: 970-943-3086
  • Completed petitions that include all required documentation will be reviewed within 2-4 weeks.
  • You will receive your decision by mail.
  • To avoid late payment charges, continue to pay the amount due on your University student account by the due dates. If you are determined to be a Colorado resident, your non-resident tuition/fees will be adjusted to the Colorado resident rate. You will be reimbursed if you paid more tuition/fees than are due as a resident.

Any student who provides false information to avoid paying non-resident tuition may be subject to legal and/or disciplinary action.

Petition Review & Decision Process

Completed petitions that include all required documentation will be reviewed and petitioners will be notified of the decision by mail within 2-4 weeks after the completed petition is submitted. If additional information is required, the additional information must be submitted within 15 business days of the request unless special arrangements are made with the Tuition Classification Officer. You may email residency questions to Student Financial Services at finaid@western.edu or by phone 970-943-3085.

Decisions made by the Tuition Classification Officer may be appealed to the University’s Residency Appeals Committee. Petitioners who want to appeal the decision must contact Student Financial Services no later than two weeks (10 business days) after the date the denial letter was mailed to the petitioner. The decision of the Residency Appeals Committee is the final University determination for that semester.

Petition Deadlines

Submit completed petitions to Student Financial Services no later than the published deadline date for the semester for which you are petitioning. Mailed petitions must be postmarked by the deadline date.

Petitions will not be accepted after the published deadline date. Incomplete petitions will not be accepted and/or reviewed and your tuition classification and tuition assessment will remain non-resident for that term. Residency statutes do not permit retroactive tuition re-classification.

Petition Deadlines for Students Admitted to a Degree Program
Semester
Domicile Qualifying Date
Earliest Submission Date
Early Decision Deadline
Final Deadline
Summer 201305/13/1303/11/1304/22/1305/13/13
Fall 201308/19/1306/17/1307/29/1308/19/13
Spring 201401/13/1411/11/1312/23/1301/13/14s
Summer 201405/12/1403/10/1404/21/1405/12/14

Frequently Asked Questions about Residency