The college makes an initial determination of a student’s eligibility for in-state tuition rates based on the information provided by the applicant and/or the applicant’s parent, legal guardian or spouse in the online application for admission.
Eligibility is determined by using State Council of Higher Education guidelines pertaining to Section 23-7.4 of the Code of Virginia. To be eligible for in-state tuition, a student (or in the case of an unemancipated minor or dependent student, the parent or legal guardian) must have lived in Virginia for at least one year prior to the start of the semester for which in-state tuition is sought.
Domicile is a technical term or legal concept often used to refer to eligibility for in-state tuition. It means more than just living in Virginia. A student must also demonstrate through clear and convincing evidence the intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely. Demonstration of intent is usually accomplished through objective evidence.
A student under the age of 24 generally assumes the domicile of the parent(s) or legal guardian(s), unless the student has been legally emancipated or meets criteria for independent student status.
- Demonstrate residence in Virginia and the intention 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:
- 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, Laurel Ridge 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, Laurel Ridge looks at the parents’ domicile to determine eligibility for in-state tuition or state financial aid programs.
If you are younger than 24 and do not meet any of these six conditions, the only way you can be 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.
Non- 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.
Questions about those with: Asylum, temporary protective status (TPS), work permit status, parolee, undocumented, refugee, business visas (B1), or other status, please contact Tina Anderson, College Registrar, SCO at 540-868-7107 or at [email protected].
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 tuition rates.
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 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 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 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 SCHEV shall be followed. The registrar will notify the student in writing of the review outcome. Notification shall be within 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 10 calendar days of notification. Within 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 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 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.
Please direct all inquiries concerning admission requirements to: