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What it Takes to Claim Florida Residency as a College Student

So, by now, you’re aware that Florida has a tuition-reduction program for those who can demonstrate in-state residency. For instance, the tuition fee at the University of Florida is $6,380 for in-state scholars and $28,658 for those coming out of state. The University of Florida is less expensive than the national average in-state tuition, $11,331.

Tuition for those coming out of state is more than the national average out-of-state tuition, which is $27,028.Every candidate for admission to a higher education institution must complete a form for this categorization (in-state residency or out-of-state residency), regardless of how long you or your parent/guardian have lived in the state.

A “Florida residency for tuition” application is a claim filed by a student, or their parent, legal guardian, or spouse to be considered for the in-state tuition rate.

Eligibility for Florida In-State Tuition

To qualify for Florida’s in-state tuition rate, you or your parents, legal guardian, or spouse must have formally set up and maintained a residence in the state for at least 365 days (12 months) before enrollment. Simply being a Florida legal resident does not entitle you to an in-state tuition rate.

According to Florida Statute 1009.21, physical presence and legal ties to the state for 12 months before the semester you seek an in-state tuition rate is a must. There are documents required to prove these two requirements. Students who rely on out-of-state legal guardians or parents for financial support are by default assumed to be legal residents of the states their parents live in.

How to apply for an in-state Florida Residency for Tuition Purposes

To be categorized as a resident and thus qualify for the in-state tuition rate, you or your parent, spouse, or legal guardian must complete a Residency Declaration For Tuition Purposes form and provide evidence of legal residence and its duration.

New students or those seeking readmission too must complete the Florida residency declaration form when applying for admission or readmission.

A Residency Reclassification Form must be submitted by ongoing students initially categorized as nonresidents for tuition reasons and now request to be reclassified as Florida Residents for Tuition considerations.

Who can claim Florida residency for in-state tuition

The law permits U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens or constitutional aliens allowed indefinite residency by the U.S Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to be designated as Florida residents for tuition purposes as long as the claimant or applicant meets the above-stated eligibility requirements.

Dependent Vs. Independent Student

The distinction between dependent and independent student status is significant because it determines whether you must present your individual residency documents or your parent’s/guardian. Independent students need their own residency documents, while dependent students can use their parent’s or guardians’ documents.

if you meet the following characteristics, you will be considered an independent student for purposes of Florida in-state tuition application:

  • You are 24 years old before the beginning of the semester for which you are seeking residency status

  • You are married with children or other dependents who rely on you for at least half of their upkeep;

  • You have served in the United States Armed Forces as a veteran or are currently in active service in the country’s Armed Forces for reasons other than mere training;

  • Both of your parents are dead, or you are or were a ward of the court until the age of 18

  • You are pursuing a master’s or Ph.D. at a Florida university during the semester for which you are seeking residency status;

  • The institution’s Office of Financial Aid has already classified you as an independent.

You may still be categorized as an independent student even if you do not satisfy any of the above-mentioned independent student characteristics. You have papers proving that you take care of fifty percent of your tuition as defined by your school’s Office of Financial Aid.

Dependent Student

All other individuals who don’t meet the definitions mentioned above shall be designated as dependent students for the purpose of in-state tuition application.

What documentation is required for Florida in-state tuition application?

To demonstrate residence for tuition reasons, you must produce at least two types of evidence with dates proving you or your legal guardian or parents have been Florida residents for at least 12 months before the first day of class. Universities and colleges may request supplementary documentation, mainly if there is a discrepancy between the residency documentation and the school admissions paperwork.

The in-state tuition application must include one of the items listed below. At least one of your parents’ names must be in the paperwork for dependent students.

  • A valid Florida driver’s license

  • A Florida vehicle registration

  • Florida state identification card

  • A Florida voter registration card

  • Proof of a principal residence in Florida for the student their parent(s) if a dependent student

  • Evidence of homestead exemption

  • Transcripts from at least two years of high school in the state if you earned a diploma within the past year.

  • Proof of full-time, permanent job in Florida (must have been working 30 hours a week for the past 12months).

Now you can produce at least one of the above documents, but if you only have a single one, you are allowed to submit additional documentation such as:

  • Declaration of Florida domicile

  • A professional or vocational license in Florida

  • Florida Certificate of Incorporation

  • Proof of family ties to a Floridian, as required for tuition considerations.

  • Evidence of membership in a Florida-based nonprofit or professional organization

  • A court document proving legal ties to the state

  • Receipts showing 12 months of lease or utility payments in a row

Suppose you have some of the above documents that have expired and applied for renewal as per the state regulations and policy. In that case, you can report the date the original document was issued. But you may be required to provide extra paperwork to validate this information.

Class of University Students Using Laptops In Lecture

What about non-US citizens?

Applicants who are not U.S. citizens must show relevant documents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s indicating their status in the country. These include resident alien cards, green cards, visas, or employment authorization cards.

All applicants formerly classed as non-citizens and are now reapplying as U.S citizens must provide proper documentation. All documentary evidence must be up to date. Applicants whose paperwork has expired will be reported to the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Services.

The following is a list of Eligible Immigration Paperwork and Visa Categories required for non-US nationals.

  • Permanent Resident Card

  • Alien Registration Card I-551

  • Passport with the date marked “Processed for I-551 Temporary Evidence of Law for Permanent Residence.”

  • Notice of Action Letter I-797 indicating that you have been confirmed for permanent resident status.

  • Employment Authorization Card valid in categories A1-18, C09, C24, C25

  • I-94 Parolee Departure/ Arrival/Departure Record marked "Paroled pursuant to [Law Provision & Date]"

  • I-94 Departure /Arrival Asylee Record with an “Asylum Status Granted” stamp

  • Letter from the Asylum Office confirming that the asylum request has been approved

  • I-94 Departure /Arrival record with a stamp marking indicating you have been admitted as a refugee as per Section 207 of the refugee act

  • Visa types A, E, G, H-1, H-4 are supported by H-1, I, K, L, N, O-1, O-3 and O-1, R, NATO I-7, T, and V.

Paperwork can be faxed, mailed, or delivered to the institution you have been enrolled in. Most incoming residence paperwork will be processed within 10 to 14 business days. The residency review procedure may take a maximum of six weeks, depending on your unique situation and the materials you supply.

What if I don’t meet the above Florida residence requirements?

Some individuals who don’t meet the above-mentioned standards may still be categorized as Florida residents per the following special categories listed in Florida Statutes Section 1009.21.

  • Active service members of the Florida National Guard or the United States Armed Forces and their wives and dependent children residing or deployed in Florida.

  • Those in active service in the United States Armed Services and their wives and dependent children enrolled in a Florida College System college or a public university within 50 miles of the military base if the base is within a county bordering Florida.

  • United States residents living on the Panama Canal Isthmus who have finished a year of college work at the Panama Canal Branch of Florida State University and their wives and dependent children.

  • Employees of Florida public schools and colleges who work full-time in teaching and administrative capacities and their spouses and dependent children.

  • Caribbean and Latin America students who get state or federal government scholarships. The students must attend a Florida college or university full-time.

  • Florida’s state universities graduate students who are members of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Academic Common Market.

  • Full-time workers of state agencies or local branches of the state when the agency or state branch pays the student tuition for full-time positions in law enforcement or prison work training.

  • McKnight Doctoral Candidates and Fellows who are citizens of the United States

  • United States residents living and working outside the country for an American International School or the Department of Defense and enroll in a post-graduate education program leading to a Florida teaching certification.

  • Active-duty personnel of the Canadian military stationed or living in Florida under the NORAD pact and their wives and dependent children, who are enrolled in a Florida university or college within 50 miles of their base.

  • Active service members of a foreign country’s armed forces stationed in Florida as liaison officers as well as their wives and dependent children enrolled in a Florida college or university within fifty miles of their military base.

  • Also, suppose you are designated as a nonresident for tuition reasons and later marry a Florida legal resident or a person who later becomes a legal resident. In that case, you may become eligible for re-designation as a Florida resident for tuition considerations upon turning in evidence of your union to a legal resident of Florida or documents showing your spouse’s reclassification as a resident. You can also submit documents proving your own Florida legal residence if your situation has changed since your first application was denied.

Can I be classified as a resident if my parents own a home or condo in Florida?

No chance! Homeownership alone doesn’t automatically qualify anyone for Florida in-state tuition benefits. Owning a condo in Florida will not satisfy residency criteria. Dwelling in Florida for tuition benefits must be physical and result in legal ties to the state.

What if I went to a high school in Florida?

For tuition reasons, simply graduating from a high school in the state is insufficient proof of residency. Imagine all the kids who live in different states but enroll in Florida boarding high schools; they certainly don’t qualify for residency designation for in-state tuition benefits. The same goes for a student who came in from another state during their final year; they do not have the 12 months needed for residency designation.

So even if you attended a Florida high school, you still have to provide proof of your bona fide abode in the state for at least 365 days before the first day of the semester for which you are seeking residency status for tuition benefits.

What if I have already lived or attended a Florida school?

To be deemed a Florida Resident for in-state tuition benefits, you must demonstrate through formal and legal paperwork that you or your parent/guardian or spouse have had a real place of residence in the state for at least 365 days before the first day of the school period for which you are seeking in-state tuition rate. You won’t be recognized for your status simply because you lived or went to a Florida, high school in the past.

Can I qualify for Florida in-state tuition if I reside in Georgia close to the Florida/Georgia state line?

The short answer is no. The long explanation is that there are formal and legal documents one has to provide to prove physical residence and legal ties to Florida within the past 12 months preceding their application to claim Florida in-state tuition benefits.

Residing in Georgia near its border with Florida, while it gives you the advantage of driving in for a weekend at the beach or a night out with your friends, doesn’t qualify you for residence designation for tuition purposes.

Only active-duty members or their children stationed within fifty miles of the state border may claim such a status based on formal military orders. Of course, official documentation must be evaluated and verified.

Will I have to pay more for tuition if I am an out-of-state student?

Students who do not reside in Florida but are enrolled in colleges and universities will be charged an out-of-state fee. This fee will raise an undergrad’s tuition cost by approximately three and a half times that of a Florida resident. For graduates, the out-of-state tuition fee is about two and a half times that of in-state students.

What if I’m graduating from Florida high school, yet I’m undocumented: Is it possible for me to be categorized as a resident for tuition benefits?

No, you will not qualify for the in-state tuition rate. However, you may still be suitable for a fee waiver for out-of-state students. You will need to submit documents proving you were enrolled and attended a high school in the state for three straight years prior to graduation, along with your letter of acceptance to a Florida college or university within two of graduating from high school.


For tuition purposes, the Florida state residency declaration helps lower tuition for individuals whose parents/guardians/spouses can prove legal residency in the state for 12 months prior to starting classes. There are also other fee waiver programs, for example, for undocumented students. But the in-state tuition program is the surest way for students who are Florida residents to enjoy better tuition rates and significantly slice their fees.

New students seeking readmission must complete their school’s Residency Declaration for Tuition Purposes form to apply for in-state tuition consideration. After a preliminary trial and a change in their residency status, those seeking reclassification after a prior trial must complete a Florida Residency Reclassification Form. Additional paperwork, as explained above, will be requested by your school’s admission office.

Interested in learning about becoming a resident in Florida or moving there? Read more.

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