Residency Requirements for Pennsylvania Colleges

by Neil Bryant

For tuition purposes, Pennsylvania colleges and universities classify students according to their residency. In most cases, students are not considered residents unless they have a Pennsylvania domicile and are residing in the state for reasons other than attending school. The procedures for determining residency may vary slightly between universities, but most follow the same basic guidelines.

Continuous Residence

If a student has resided in Pennsylvania for reasons other than attending school for a minimum of 12 continuous months, he or she has established a Pennsylvania domicile and is considered a state resident. A student who has not resided in Pennsylvania for 12 continuous months prior to enrolling is not considered a state resident.

Minors and Dependents

Most students cannot establish their own domiciles until they have reached the age of 21; therefore, Pennsylvania colleges presume that minors and dependents under that age have the same domiciles as their parents or legal guardian. However, students 21 and under may be able to prove separate Pennsylvania domiciles if they have clear and convincing evidence of financial emancipation.

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Government Employees and Armed Forces Members

Government employees and armed forces members are considered residents if they had a Pennsylvania domicile before entering government service and maintained Pennsylvania as their legal state of residence. Additionally, armed forces members who are currently stationed and reside in Pennsylvania are considered residents, provided they can produce the appropriate documentation.

United States Citizenship Requirement

Most students must be able to prove U.S. citizenship, show permanent residency via I-551 stamp or produce an immigrant visa. However, in certain rare and extenuating circumstances, Pennsylvania colleges may grant a residency classification to students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, such as refugees and those who have been granted asylum.

Scholarships, Grants and Financial Aid

If a student must maintain a domicile in another state in order to receive scholarships, loans, grants or other types of financial aid, he or she is not considered a Pennsylvania resident.

Reclassification Request

If students wish to challenge a non-residency classification, they can make a written appeal to the appropriate board or person. Most Pennsylvania colleges assess challenges on a case-by-case basis, but the student can facilitate the process by submitting all or some of the following documentation: residence lease or purchase; state tax returns; bank account or property transfer statements; voter registration; Pennsylvania driver's license; agreement that the student will accept an offer of permanent full-time employment in Pennsylvania after graduation; proof of membership in a Pennsylvania social, civic, political, athletic or religious organization; or affidavit certifying the student will reside permanently or indefinitely in Pennsylvania after graduation. Providing this documentation does not guarantee a residency classification.

About the Author

Neil Bryant has been a contract technical writer since 2005 and is currently living in Gatesville, Texas. He has created educational materials for Mometrix Test Preparation on topics ranging from investment to art history. Bryant has a Master of Science degree in technical communication from Texas State University.

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