In-state tuition eligibility

To be eligible for in-state tuition, students must meet certain requirements set forth by the Code of Virginia.

Eligibility through Virginia domicile

Domicile is the present, fixed home to which a student returns following temporary absences and at which the student intends to stay indefinitely.

A student or the student’s parents must be domiciled in Virginia for at least 12 continuous months immediately preceding the first day of classes of a semester. The domicile of a dependent student is presumed to be that of the parents. Independent students may establish their own domicile.

Dependent student: Any student who is listed as a dependent on tax returns of parents or legal guardians, or who receives substantial financial support from them. A student under the age of 24 is presumed to be dependent on parents unless the student (i) is a veteran or an active duty member of the Armed Forces of the United States, (ii) is a graduate or professional student, (iii) is married, (iv) is a ward of the court or was a ward of the court until age 18, (v) has no adoptive parent or legal guardian and each of the student's parents is deceased, (vi) has legal dependents other than a spouse, or (vii) is able to present clear and convincing evidence of financial self-sufficiency. A married student whose spouse provides substantial financial support also can be a dependent student.

Independent student: A student whose parents have not claimed the student as a dependent on federal or state income tax returns for at least 12 months and have ceased to provide the student with substantial financial support. Students under age 24 who meet one or more of the criteria above to rebut the presumption of dependency through clear and convincing evidence will be considered independent.

Reclassification

Eligibility for in-state tuition is initially determined by the Office of Admissions when a student applies to VCU. If an independent student or a dependent student’s parents or spouse fulfills the requirements to establish an intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely, the student can petition for a change of status 12 months after forming such intent. Students seeking reclassification must prove by clear and convincing evidence that they are not residing in Virginia primarily to attend VCU.

To request reclassification as an in-state student, submit an Application for Change of Domicile no later than 30 days before the start of the semester. Reclassification will only be granted from the date the application is received. Processing may take four to six weeks.

It is the student’s responsibility to apply for reclassification. Our service is limited to helping students understand the process and providing information about relevant sections of the Code of Virginia. We cannot advise students on how to present their case or speculate on their chances of getting reclassified as in-state.

Non-U.S. citizens

Citizenship of another country does not automatically disqualify a student from establishing domicile in Virginia because there are numerous conditions under which an eligible alien may legally have the capacity to intend to remain in the United States indefinitely. See Addendum A of the SCHEV Domicile Guidelines for a description of aliens eligible to establish domicile. A student who is not a U.S. citizen bears the burden of presenting clear and convincing evidence to establish that the student is an eligible alien under the Domicile Guidelines. No student shall be deemed ineligible to establish domicile and receive in-state tuition charges solely on the basis of the immigration status of the student’s parent.

Students who are currently approved under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program may be eligible to establish domicile under 2014 guidance from the Attorney General of Virginia.

In addition, students who are not U.S. citizens may be eligible for in-state tuition through one or more special categories of eligibility. See Eligibility through exceptions to domicile, below.

Students or applicants for admission who are not U.S. citizens who have questions about eligibility for in-state tuition or how to apply for in-state tuition may contact domicileappl@vcu.edu.

Military dependents

All dependents of active-duty military personnel who are assigned to a permanent duty station in Virginia, and who reside in Virginia, are eligible to receive in-state tuition, as long as they are continuously enrolled at VCU. Military spouses and dependents must apply for this benefit. Students can establish Virginia domicile separate from their active-duty military spouse, but must meet the same domicile requirements. Military members and their dependents may be eligible for in-state tuition through one or more special categories of eligibility. See Eligibility through exceptions to domicile, below. Prior to completing the Change of Domicile application, please contact Military Student Services by calling (804) 828-6563 or by emailing militaryserv@vcu.edu.

Eligibility through exceptions to domicile

Section 23.1-506 of the Code of Virginia contains numerous provisions that provide eligibility for in-state tuition for students who have not established Virginia domicile, including the following:

1. Any student who:

a. Attended high school for at least two years in Virginia; and

b. Graduated on or after July 1, 2008, from a public or private high school or program of home instruction in Virginia or passed on or after July 1, 2008, a Virginia high school equivalency exam; and

c. Submits evidence that the student has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least two years prior to the date of enrollment or, for a dependent student, at least one parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least two years prior to the date of enrollment.

Student who meet these criteria shall be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, except that students with currently valid F, H-3, J, or M visas are not eligible.

2. Any student who (i) was admitted to the U.S. as a refugee under 8 U.S.C. § 1157 within the previous two calendar years or (ii) received a Special Immigrant Visa that has been granted a status under P.L. 110-181 § 1244, P.L. 109-163 § 1059, or P.L. 111-8 § 602 within the previous two calendar years and, upon entering the United States, resided in Virginia and continues to reside in Virginia as a refugee or pursuant to such Special Immigrant Visa.

3. A student who resides outside Virginia and has been employed full time in Virginia for at least one year immediately prior the first day of classes of a semester and paid Virginia income taxes on all taxable income earned in Virginia for that tax year, or a dependent student residing outside Virginia whose parent has been employed full time in Virginia for at least one year immediately prior the first day of classes of a semester and paid Virginia income taxes on all taxable income earned in Virginia for that tax year.

4. An active duty service member, or a guard or reserve member mobilized or on temporary active orders for 180 days or more, who resides in Virginia.

5. A military veteran who resides in Virginia.

6. A surviving spouse of a military member who resides in Virginia.

7. A student who established domicile in Virginia prior to being called to active duty by the National Guard of another state and who has completed active duty service if while on active duty the student maintained one of the following in Virginia:  driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, voter registration, employment, property ownership, or sources of financial support.

8. A child of an active duty member or veteran who claims Virginia as home of record and filed Virginia income tax returns for at least 10 years during active duty service.

9. A member of the foreign service who resided in Virginia for at least 90 days immediately prior to receiving a foreign service assignment and who continues to be assigned overseas, and any dependents of such member.

Appeals

Students who are denied in-state tuition rates may file an appeal by the first day of classes each semester. In accordance with the requirements of Va. Code § 23.1-510, the appeals process includes an intermediate review and a final administrative review.

The intermediate review determination will be in writing and will be sent to the student’s VCU email account within 5 business days of VCU’s receipt of the appeal. If the student is denied in-state tuition following intermediate review, the student may file an appeal for final administrative review within 5 business days of receipt of the decision.

The final administrative review will be conducted by an appeals committee consisting of an odd number of voting members. No individual who makes the initial or intermediate determination is eligible to serve as a voting member of the appeals committee. The appeals committee will hold a hearing, at which the student, and any individual through whom the student claims eligibility for in-state tuition, will be provided an opportunity to present information to the committee. The decision of the appeals committee will be in writing and will be sent to the student’s VCU email account within 10 business days of the hearing.

Students who paid tuition at the out-of-state rate while seeking intermediate or final administrative review who are reclassified as in-state may be eligible for a tuition reimbursement. Students who disagree with the decision of the appeals committee following final administrative review have the right to appeal their case to the Richmond Circuit Court. A petition for review must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the final decision of the appeals committee.