California Residence, Quick!
March 13, 2008 8:56 AM   Subscribe

How to gain California Residence, for purposes of college tuition?

Daughter has been accepted to San Francisco State in the fall. As an out-of-state enrollee, we will pay 8K on top of the 3.5K in tuition. We can do this once, in order to get her into the program she wants, but it would be very hard to do it all the way through.

Does anyone have experience with this in California? I have been hearing, word-of-mouth, that she would need to live in CA for a year prior, working and paying taxes, etc. without being enrolled.

I AM from CA and the rest of my family still lives there, and once enrolled, daughter expects to have some kind of job, get a driver's license, register to vote, etc. I will also stop listing her as a depended on taxes.

Does anyone know that ins and outs of all of this? Or know of a "California Residence for Dummies" publication? Ironically, a co worker, whose kid graduated high school in my town, merely listed a CA address on his kid's application and was granted residency even though this kid graduated high school, the previous June, out of state. I have been more honest, and would like to continue doing this on the high road.

posted by anonymous to Education (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Here is what Santa Barbara City College has to say about it. The rules appear to be generic, but I imagine SF State has a similar page somewhere. Try going to their site and searching for "residency."
posted by bricoleur at 9:12 AM on March 13, 2008

I think most, if not all state universities/colleges in California require you to be a resident of the state for an entire year before you qualify for residency. So you should make sure that she begins her residency before the fall semester begins so she has a chance for qualifying for next year. This page that outlines the requirements says the determination date is September 20th. She will also have to be 19 by that date. The phrase "keep in mind that physical presence in California for the specific intention of academic study does not constitute intent to make California your permanent home" seems like the biggest hurdle you will have to jump.
posted by zsazsa at 9:13 AM on March 13, 2008

You might find this information on the sfsu website helpful. Seriously though, talk to the admissions office. This is what they are there for.
posted by zachlipton at 9:21 AM on March 13, 2008

I did exactly this, in the University of California system, back in the early 1990s. The UC has since closed the loophole (now, if you're a nonresident when you first enroll, you are a nonresident), but it's good to see that the Cal State system still allows for this.

Talk to the folks in Admissions. They will tell you exactly what you need to do to change her status next year. It essentially requires that you lay out a year-long paper trail that shows she's been continuously resident in the state, and intends to stay here.

This means that not only does she need to establish ties to the state, but she needs to break ties to her previous one. She should, as soon as possible, and no later than Sept 20, 2007 (one year before the residency cutoff date next year):

1. Get a California address. Do you have a relative who can receive mail for your daughter? This isn't a great place to use a private mailbox (like a mailboxes etc, not a box at the post office), but in a pinch, it's better than nothing. The best scenario is for her to move here and rent an apartment or something this summer.

2. Get a California bank account tied to that address, and close any out-of-state ones in her name. With online banking and ATMs, it's not difficult to do this at all.

3. Register to vote in CA. If she's not yet 18, or not yet registered in your state, then don't register there at all.

4. Experience the joys of the California DMV. Come get a driver's license, and get rid of your old one. If she owns a car in her name, either sell it to a relative, or transfer registration to California. (we're a motor voter state, so 3 and 4 are combinable.)

5. Don't earn too much money this year in your home state. Do earn at least a little bit in California. If, at the end of 2008, it turns out that she paid more state income tax to your home state than to California, there may be a problem. If this is true in 2009, then she won't be a resident.

Then, once she's studied here for a school year:

6. Stay in California over the summer. Sign a lease (paper trail, remember?). Get a job (see #5). Pay your taxes. Enjoy California's beaches and parks, and find out why you want to stay here after you graduate. Hug a redwood tree. Begin calling California "home".

7. File a reclassification request with the school. Provide them with a year's worth of leases, a copy of your year-old driver's license, your voter registration card, and an early and recent bank statement.

And finally:

8. Stay here after she graduates. Her education is being discounted in the hopes that she'll stay and contribute to California's economy in the future. Please help show that this works in the 21st century, or Cal State will close this loophole.
posted by toxic at 9:53 AM on March 13, 2008 [3 favorites]

In addition to toxic's suggestions and based on the SFSU website, if it is possible to buy a house or apartment for her to live in that would be strong evidence in support of her being a resident. I went to an out of state college and that was an option we looked at, although we didn't take that route.
posted by TedW at 10:13 AM on March 13, 2008

Why should non-CA residents benefit from the taxes paid by CA residents? That's ridiculous.

Anyway, I got CA residency 2 years ago. Here's what our program tells us to do:
- the second you move to CA, get a driver's license (you actually do need to take the test)
- register your car
- get at least 2 utilities in your name

I'd suggest doing this all at least a month before school starts, so that when the next year starts, she'll be all set.

The registrar's office is pretty hard core about this stuff. Trust me, people try to fool them all of the time, and it just doesn't work.

And then, in a year, she'll be an in-state resident.

This is assuming, of course, that you won't be claiming her as a dependent.

A lot of people move out to CA, work for a year, and then start school. She could either do that or you could just pay the out-of-state fees for the first year.
posted by k8t at 10:30 AM on March 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'd been living in California for a number of years before I applied for my California grad school. But others in my program who went through this said that the real big deal can be holidays- you need to prove your daughter stayed in state. A few years ago, evidence (credit card receipts) were requested of someone in the program who, of course, didnt have them, having gone back to Ohio (or wherever) for the holidays. He didn't get residency.

So, tell her to make a paper trail (with her credit card) and keep receipts!
posted by arnicae at 11:05 AM on March 13, 2008

For those that do not drive, (I don't know about your daughter's situation) I imagine that a California State ID would do the same thing as a Driver's License, as they're both issued from the DMV.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:34 AM on March 13, 2008

Why should non-CA residents benefit from the taxes paid by CA residents? That's ridiculous.

Because many of them stay and join the California workforce and tax base, and they wouldn't if they hadn't been lured out here by an inexpensive education.

Many states offer in-state tuition only to (younger) students whose parents have paid state taxes. We offer it both to people whose parents have paid, and to people who themselves are likely to pay after graduation.

Call it outreach... but considering that these days most midwestern towns are losing their college graduates at incredible rates, leaving very little future left in local economies, I'd say that we're doing something right.
posted by toxic at 11:49 AM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

toxic, I'm pretty sure you still can get residency in the UC system as well. I know people in my program are still asked to do this; I did it myself 4 years ago.

The major requirements are that you are self supported, or the dependent of a CA resident, and that you show intent to reside in CA.

"Showing intent" is somewhat ambiguous; your school should have resources about what details you'll need to take care of, but here's what I know of and did for my case:

1) Show you're financially independent, that is that you have a job in CA that you pay taxes on (this also answers k8t's question, I think).

2) Close bank account elsewhere and open a new one in CA (i actually just changed the address on my account and included documentation of this, but if her bank doesn't have a branch here she should open a new account).

3) Register to vote here ASAP, and get the little proof of registration card (I think I had to go to a courthouse to do this and it cost about 10$ or so).

4) Get a CA driver's license and reregister a car (if she has one) to CA. This needs to be done within some # of days of moving here anyhow (don't know how long, sorry). (And yes, spinifex, I'm pretty sure some people in my program got the state ID instead, being nondrivers, and that was fine).

5) Show proof of presence in the state during school holidays. Employment, ATM receipts that include location and date, credit card receipts that include location and date, etc will all work. You should check with the school to find exactly how many weeks you can be out of state; I believe it was 6 (total, for the whole year) back when I did it 4 years ago. You do *not* need to show proof of residence while school is in session, but you will need it for any breaks (even short ones like Thanksgiving). Plane tickets can also be useful.

Basically, start keeping a file for all of this stuff now, being very circumspect about keeping paperwork, filing on time, and ensuring you have complete evidence. I know alot of people who were asked to submit further evidence after their initial application for residency; the ones who had kept good files found this easy to supply.
posted by nat at 2:37 PM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am a researcher for a relocation assistance company. I recently completed research for someone else in your exact same position.

The following information is based on the residency rules of the California Postsecondary Education Commission and may be viewed in greater detail by clicking here.

Due to her circumstances, she will not be considered a California resident for tuition purposes. To be considered for in-state tuition, she must have established a domicile within the state of California for no less than 12 months prior to the semester for which she wishes to be considered. Because she is moving to the state expressly for the purposes of going to school, she will have a very difficult time getting in-state residency status for the following reasons:

--The burden is on your daughter to prove that she is in the state for reasons unrelated to pursuing an education, which will be pretty much impossible since that IS the whole reason she's there. A more plausible scenario would be if, say, she were relocating for her or her husband's job. But since I assume that she will begin attending school full time as soon as she arrives, it is unlikely she would be able to do the other things, like hold down a full-time job, that would help her prove her case.

--In addition to establishing domicile, she will need to demonstrate that she is emancipated from you, her parents. That means that she must be able to prove that you do not support her financially in any way. Which also will not be possible since you already plan to help pay for her tuition. If you have claimed her as a dependent on your most recent tax returns, she is not emancipated, and she is considered a resident of the state where you live.

If you help pay for any of her living expenses (and they'll know because let's face it, there's no way an 18-year-old with no college can afford to take care of herself on part-time pay), she is not emancipated.

So basically, no, you're both SOL unless she wants to set up a bonafide domain and pay for all her own expenses.

For more information refer to the Residency page at the website.
posted by mynameismandab at 2:52 PM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was able to petition for in-state residency in Pennsylvania after living there only several months, by writing a letter to the dean of the school discussing that my parents didn't support me (true), that I intended to stay in Pennsylvania because, among other reasons, the job market in my out-of-state hometown was pretty abysmal and I couldn't count on supporting myself if I went back (true), and saying that I was already invested in the city my school was in & loved it & planned on staying (mostly true--became much truer, though I left after several years outta school after all). Your situation is likely different (you'll be paying for college?), but keep this in mind.
posted by soviet sleepover at 3:50 PM on March 13, 2008

she will need to demonstrate that she is emancipated from you. [...] There's no way an 18-year-old with no college can afford to take care of herself

With all due respect, mynameismandab, I hope you weren't paid too much for that research. The document that you linked to explains exactly how she can be considered a resident -- not this year, but next -- just as you're saying that she can't.

To be considered "financially independent" from her parents as of September 2009, a student doesn't have to be able to afford to take care of herself. She must:

a) not be claimed as a dependent for tax year 2008 and 09. (07 would help, too, if you haven't filed or can amend without penalty)
b) Be able to show a mere $4000 of assets in her name, starting around 2007... and/or
c) Be able to show $4000 or more in income, preferably going back to 2007, but certainly for 08-09.

These are the things that are used as examples of ways to show financial independence from one's parents.

...but what they don't tell you is how much of this decision is up the discretion of the people in the admissions department who are interviewing you and reviewing your case. Look at the form that you fill out. It asks for only a few specific things (drivers license, voter registration, time spent in the state), and tells you to attach additional documents (and schedule an interview) to state your case. While there are hard rules for things like voting and drivers licenses, there are merely "guidelines" for things like financial independence.

A student who is "gifted" the yearly maximum from each of her relatives can still be considered financially independent. Repeat that to yourself, then write your daughter a check, deposit it into her (interest bearing) California account today, and have her write the check for tuition when it comes time. She may want to be able to show that she's had those sorts of assets for a while when it comes time to prove financial independence.

If she moves to California this June, and gets a job this summer, and another one next summer (and those jobs pay her more than the $3.5k Calstate tuition, or the $4000 mentioned by the College Board researchers), she'll easily meet the requirements for "financial independence" for 2008. If she manages to land a job this summer that she can keep continually through the school year and into next summer, that's even better. An admissions officer will look at her and see a young woman working hard to pay for her own education, as a Californian, and might not notice that she didn't quite have $4000 in her name until March, 2008, instead of Dec 2007.

It is true that students who are purely in the state for school aren't considered to be residents. Students who move to the state before school, and stay here and work during holidays, aren't here purely for school -- they're here for school and employment, and that's sufficient under the law.

She can do this. You can't really do it for her, but she can do it. It is a non-trivial amount of work (and the work involved is indeed, setting up a bona-fide domain and being able to prove it, which a free 18 year old can do in this country), but it's something that an 18 year old of college-worthy intelligence can certainly do. Millions of people before her have managed to pull this off (just look at the disparity between out-of-state freshmen and seniors). She won't be the last.
posted by toxic at 7:59 PM on March 13, 2008


Um, I personally contacted the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) and asked them about this. If I'm understanding correctly, the OP's daughter is going to school there this fall and wants to know how her daughter can be eligible for in-state tuition within one semester (please correct me if I'm wrong, Anonymous?) because they can't afford to drop $22000 a year for her college.

And I'm saying that she has to be there at least a year and satisfy other requirements, so it won't be possible to get a status change after just a few months, especially since she's still considered their dependent. But even since she is only planning to go to California to further her educational pursuits.

My fiance is from California, and he knows that tons of people flock to CA for school, hoping there's a shortcut to getting it on the cheap. But believe it or not, those CPEC people are smart folks, and they know that people will do whatever they can to get more/better education for less money (and who wouldn't-- it's Human Nature).

But you don't have to take my word for it. I just call colleges and residency departments all day for a living, what do I know?
posted by mynameismandab at 10:09 PM on March 13, 2008


I refer you to the original post:

As an out-of-state enrollee, we will pay 8K on top of the 3.5K in tuition. We can do this once, in order to get her into the program she wants, but it would be very hard to do it all the way through.

I don't think anyone suggested she could do it in less than one year. The poster recognizes that his daughter is going to be an out-of-state student for the first year, and is willing to pay the extra tuition this year, but wants her to be a resident, ASAP, so as not to have to pay it all the way through. Several people who have been through this process have given answers explaining how to do this, most of which refer to the rules and guidelines on SF State's own site, and stressing the importance of proving that she is continually resident in the state for a year.
posted by toxic at 10:35 PM on March 13, 2008

Money Laundering? You're high.

Anonymous (and his wife and/or child's mother) may each give his child $12,000 per year, tax-free, as a gift (wealthy parents do this all the time, it's considered part of estate planning). This gift is not treated as his daughter's income, nor is it deductible from his. This is in addition to the gift of tuition which he is explicitly allowed to give her (or anyone else) tax-free, but only if he pays the school directly. See IRS Publication 950 for details on gifts and the gift tax.

Now that the daughter has received the gift, she's got some assets. In fact, she's probably got enough to be considered "financially independent" under the definition that CalState uses. If those assets are in a California bank account that's earning interest, then bang! she's a California tax payer. If the bank statement has a date on it, it shows a day that she was provably "financially independent". The earlier that date, the better. If you can show that she had assets in excess of $4000 as early as Dec 2007, it will help you.

Come September, 2008, our student will enter the fabulous San Francisco State University, and be presented with a staggering tuition bill in her name (if she's 18, the Regents are doing business with her, not with her dad). Are you suggesting that she shouldn't be allowed to use her legitimately gained assets to pay her legitimately earned debt?

Come August, 2009, assuming she's played by the rules, our student will have a year-long record of living in California as a legal adult, a local bank account, local drivers license, local job, Nov '07 ballot stub, CA tax return, and will be able to show financial independence through a couple years of bank statements (and not being claimed as a dependent on anyone else's 1040 in 07,08,09). She also won't have any of these things tying her back to her old state, and she'll have a handful of extra receipts and such that shows she was in-state during the school breaks.

That makes her, under the letter of the law, a California Resident, one year from the day that she arrives in the state to stay. As long as she gets that residency before Sept 20, 2009, she'll pay in-state tuition starting with her second year of school.

I know this doesn't jive with your personal definition of financial independence among students who work part-time, your belief that emancipation requires anything more than an 18th birthday, your curious notion that students inherently intend to exclusively study, or even what you think constitutes felonious behavior with regards to asset transfer... but it does jive with California's legal definition of all of those things. And that's all that really matters.

I just hope that your client got a second opinion before deciding not to move to our fine state based on flawed research.
posted by toxic at 3:22 PM on March 14, 2008

Mod note: a few comments removed - what is going on here. Stop insulting each other and go to metatalk or take this to email, it's getting way off track.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:49 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

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