Domicile for Virginia
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) provides general, descriptive information about establishing Virginia domicile in order to qualify for in-state tuition. The conditions by which a student may be considered “in-state” for purposes of tuition classification are set forth by Section 23-1.5 of the Code of Virginia. Its guidelines outline the requirements that students must meet to be classified as “in-state” for educational purposes.
An overview of the basic requirements for demonstrating and/or establishing Virginia domicile is offered below. For the most current and detailed information, please visit SCHEV’s website.
- An individual must demonstrate residence in Virginia and intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely to establish domicile in Virginia.
- After meeting the requirements to establish domicile, a person must continue to be domiciled in Virginia for at least 12 months prior to the first day of classes.
To become eligible for in-state tuition, a student shall establish by clear and convincing evidence that for a period of at least one year immediately prior to the first day of classes, he or she was domiciled in Virginia and has abandoned any previous domicile, or that the person on whom the student is legally and financially dependent was domiciled in Virginia.
Several factors are used to determine if a person demonstrates intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely. A college or university may ask for information from you or your parents about the following factors:
- Continuous residence in Virginia
- Social and economic ties
- Ownership of real property
- Sources of financial support
- Current employment in Virginia
- Enrollment in Virginia post-graduate program
- Military records
- State in which income taxes are paid
- Voter registration, and actual voting
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle registration
Dependent vs. Independent Students
A dependent student is a student who receives substantial financial support from his or her parents or legal guardian. If you are under age 24 on the first day of classes, LFCC will automatically classify you as a dependent student unless you:
- are married
- are a veteran or active-duty member of the U.S. armed forces
- are a ward of the court or were a ward of the court until age 18
- have no adoptive or legal guardian when both parents are deceased
- have legal dependents other than a spouse.
If you are considered a dependent student, LFCC looks at the parents’ domicile to determine if a dependent student is eligible for in-state tuition or state financial aid programs.
If you are older than 24 and do not meet any of these six conditions, the only way you can he classified as an independent student is if you convince the institution that you are financially self-sufficient.
If you are not classified as a dependent student, you may establish your own Virginia domicile.
A married person may establish domicile like any other student, by showing intent to stay in Virginia and maintaining domicile for 12 months. A married person does not automatically have the same domicile as his or her spouse even if the person is financially dependent on the spouse. However, if a student receives substantial financial support from his or her spouse, the student may claim domicile through the spouse. In such cases, the college or university will look at the spouse’s domicile to determine if the student is eligible for in-state.
Veterans, Military Members, Spouses, and Dependents
Veterans, military members, military spouses, and military dependents should review the State Council’s website for the most current information regarding the establishment of Virginia domicile and the provisions for in-state tuition rates as a military exception. For additional military specific domicile information, please visit our Military Domicile page.
Students who are not U.S. Citizens
The fact that an individual is a citizen of another country does not automatically disqualify that person from establishing domicile in Virginia. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to present your immigration documentation to the institution. Note: It is very difficult for undocumented students to establish domicile in Virginia. Immigration status is a very strong indication that the student does not intend to remain in Virginia indefinitely.
Frequently Asked Questions about Establishing Domicile in Virginia
- What is “substantial financial support”?
Substantial financial support means financial support in an amount as much or more than what is required to qualify the individual to be listed as a dependent on tax returns (50% or more of the student’s support).
- Can I establish domicile while I am a student?
Yes. However, mere physical presence or residence primarily for educational purposes does not make a student a Virginia domiciliary. If you leave Virginia for vacations and summer work, you will have an even more difficult time proving that you intend to stay in Virginia.
- What if I disagree with a college or university’s determination of my domicile?
Public institutions of higher education have established an appeals process for students who question a decision on eligibility for in-state tuition. See the Domicile Appeal Process outlined below.
Domicile Appeal Process
Any student who applies for admission to the College and is denied in-state tuition has a right to appeal according to the following process:
Initial determination – The Enrollment Services / Admissions Office staff is responsible for making an initial determination of eligibility for in-state tuition rates. The decisions shall be based on information provided on the application for Virginia in-state tuition rates, supporting documents and statements supplied by the student. The Enrollment Services / Admissions Office shall follow guidelines issued by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) in making determinations of eligibility for in-state tuition rates. The initial determination made by the Enrollment Services / Admissions Office shall be provided as an oral communication or in writing. All documents needed to support determination of domicile must be submitted to the Enrollment Services / Admissions Office prior to the first day of semester classes.
Intermediate review – A student who is aggrieved by an eligibility determination made by the Enrollment Services / Admissions Office staff may appeal the decision to the registrar. The student must file a written appeal within ten (10) calendar days of initial determination. A supplemental application for Virginia in-state tuition rates may be required if the registrar determines that additional domicile information is necessary. Within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of an appeal, the registrar will review the initial determination. The student shall be provided with the opportunity to present information either in person or in writing. In reviewing the initial determination, guidelines issued by the SCHEV shall be followed. The registrar will notify the student in writing of the review outcome. Notification shall be within twenty (20) calendar days of receipt of the appeal.
Final administrative review – A student who is not satisfied with the outcome of the review by the registrar may appeal to the domicile appeals committee. The student must file a written appeal to the domicile appeals committee within ten (10) calendar days of notification. Within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of an appeal, the chair of the committee shall schedule a meeting to review the initial determination and intermediate review. A supplemental application for Virginia in-state tuition rates may be required if the committee determines that additional domicile information is necessary. The student shall be provided the opportunity to present information to the domicile appeals committee, either in person, or in writing. In reviewing the documentation, the domicile appeals committee shall follow guidelines issued by the SCHEV. The decision of the domicile appeals committee shall be in writing and a copy of the decision shall be sent to the student. Notification shall be within twenty (20) calendar days of receipt of the appeal. This committee’s decision is final.
Please note that domicile classification is in effect on the first day of classes. Any determination for in-state status needs to be finalized by this date.