- A financially independent student who has had a domicile in the State of Washington for the period of one year immediately prior to the time of commencement of the first day of the quarter for which he/she has registered and has in fact established a bona fide domicile in this state primarily for purposes other than educational, or
- A financially dependent student, if one or both of his or her parents or legal guardians have maintained a bona fide domicile in the State of Washington for at least one year immediately prior to commencement of the quarter for which the student has registered.
- A student who is on active military duty and stationed in Washington or the spouse or a dependent of a person who is on active military duty stationed in the state. Such a student is classified as a resident for tuition purposes only and is not eligible for other benefits provided to residents.
- A student who is a member of one of 33 Native American tribes in Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington. Such a student is classified as a resident for tuition purposes only and is not eligible for other benefits provided to residents.
- A student who is an undocumented non-citizen who has resided in the state at least three years prior to high school graduation, who has continued to reside in the state, and who signs an affidavit (available here in PDF format, which requires Acrobat Reader®) promising to apply for permanent resident status as soon as legally able to do so.
- Any person who has lived in Washington, primarily for purposes other than educational, for at least one year immediately before the date on which the person has enrolled in an institution, and who holds lawful nonimmigrant status pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Sec. (a) (15) (E) (iii), (H) (i), or (L), or who holds lawful nonimmigrant status as the spouse or child of a person having nonimmigrant status under one of those subsections, or who, holding or having previously held such lawful nonimmigrant status as a principal or derivative, has filed an application for adjustment of status pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Sec.1255 (a);
- Is independent and has not established a domicile in Washington primarily for purposes other than education at least 12 months prior to application; or
- Is a dependent whose parent or legal guardian has not been a legal resident of Washington for at least a year prior to application.
In determining independence, factors considered include the preceding year's income tax returns of the student and/or his or her parents or legal guardian. An applicant must prove independence and self-support by demonstrating sufficient income in the year prior to quarter of application in order to be classified as a resident. Not being claimed by parents for tax purposes, by itself, does not demonstrate independence and self-support*. The length of time the student has lived independently from parents also is an important factor.
A non-resident student enrolled for more than six hours per quarter is considered as having come to the state primarily for education purposes unless s/he can prove establishment of domicile in this state for purposes other than educational.
The term "domicile" is a person's true, fixed, and permanent home and place of habitation. It is the place where one intends to remain. The burden of proof that a student, parent, or guardian has established a domicile in Washington primarily for purposes other than educational rests with the student.
*Trust funds, savings accounts and investment portfolios that are set up for education purposes must be in the sole control of the student for one year prior to application if the student uses such funds as a demonstration of all or a significant portion of support.
Becoming a legal resident of Washington requires more than simply residing in the state for 12 months. First, one must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent resident (resident-alien) status. Second, a student with non-resident parents must prove independence from his or her parents. Third, one must declare an intention to become a legal resident of the state by obtaining a document such as a Washington driver's license or vehicle registration. The "12-month clock" begins to tick on the date that such documents are obtained, and the principal factor in establishing residency is physical presence in the State for a full year. Fourth, one must prove that he or she did not come to the state primarily for education purposes (enrolling in more than six credits).
- Physical presence in the state for the 12-month period preceding quarter of application.
- Obtaining a Washington driver's license, vehicle registration, and voter registration at least one year prior to application. Note: Registering to vote, by itself, cannot be regarded as a declaration of one's intent to become a resident if other documents, such as driver's license and vehicle registration are not also obtained at the same time. If you drive a vehicle, you must obtain a Washington driver's license and Washington vehicle registration one year prior to application for residency status. If you do not drive and do not have a driver's license, you should obtain a Washington Identification Card one year prior to application.
- Employment on a permanent, full-time basis in Washington at least one year.
- In the case of a person applying as an independent student, demonstration of sufficient income to prove a claim of independence.*
- Registration with the Selective Service in Washington a full year prior to application.
- Purchase of a residence in Washington a full year prior to application.
- Note: Enrolling in more than six credits may disqualify you.
- Active-duty military stationed in Washington or the spouse or dependent on active-duty military stationed in Washington State can be classified as a resident (for tuition purposes only) by submitting each quarter proof of military assignment in the state.
- Native American students of certain tribal affiliations who are residents of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington can be classified as residents (for tuition purposes only) by submitting qualifying documents.
- Participants in the International Student Exchange Program and National Student Exchange Program who attend Western Washington University will not be charged non-resident tuition.
- Possesses a current out-of-state driver's license, or vehicle registration, or other document that gives evidence of being domiciled in another state;
- Has received, during the past year, financial assistance from another state government; including reciprocity award.
- Has been attending, during the past year, a Washington college or university as a participant in the National Student Exchange program from another state.
- Has attended, as a resident, at a state-supported college in another state within the past year.
- Has received financial assistance from another state government in the past year. This includes Alaska Permanent Fund and reciprocity awards.
Some nonresident students may qualify, on a quarterly basis, for an exemption from all or a portion of nonresident fees. Those who may be eligible include:
- An immigrant having refugee status with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, if such refugee (a) is on parole status, or (b) has received an immigrant visa, or (c ) has applied for US citizenship.
Exemptions may be applied for by submitting proof of status, as indicated above, to the Registrar's Office.
Further information regarding residency classification and statutory exemptions from the requirement to pay nonresident fees may be obtained on the Residency FAQ page, or by visiting the Registrar's Office in Old Main 230 during office hours.
To apply for a change in your residency classification, complete the Residency Questionnaire and submit it with the required documentation to the Registrar's Office.
The questionnaire must be submitted by the first week of the quarter for which a residency reclassification is requested. In the absence of a completed questionnaire and supporting documentation, an individual's residency classification will remain unchanged.
Washington residency law is codified in RCW 28.15 and further explained in WAC 250.18.