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Residency for Tuition Purposes

Residency Determination has been centralized for the state of North Carolina.  Applicants and currently enrolled students who are claiming NC Residency or wish to apply for in-state residency for tuition purposes, are required to go through the North Carolina Residency Determination Service (RDS). NOTE: A determination of out-of-state will be given to anyone who has not yet lived in North Carolina for 365 days.

If you are applying to a Graduate Program and claim to be an NC resident, follow the instructions on the application and complete your residency determination at Once you have received a validated residency decision from RDS, enter the Residency Determination Number (RCN) into your application. If you are ready to submit your application prior to completing your RDS determination or receiving your RCN number, you will have the opportunity to enter it later through your applicant portal. Entering your RCN after submission will not effect your application, but until it is provided, you will be considered an out-of-state applicant.

Updating your RDS determination with NC State: If your RDS decision or expiration date has changed since you originally provided NC State with your Residency Determination Number (RCN) number, you will need to complete the residency form in your applicant portal, or update it through NC State’s self-service residency page by:

  • logging into MyPack Portal  
  • navigating to your Student Homepage
  • clicking on the Personal Information tile
  • selecting ‘Residency Information’ from the left-hand navigation
  • entering your RCN in the corresponding text box, selecting “Save RCN” and then “Request Residency Data”

If we’ve already received your RDS determination and it’s displayed on this page, you will not see the button to “Save RCN” or “Request Residency Data” and no further action is needed.

NOTE: You must have a unity ID to login to access this page.

Current graduate students applying for residency next year: Begin completing your residentiary acts (outlined below in the Basic Requirements of Residency) about a year before you will be applying for residency. You will need to wait until you have lived in North Carolina for 365 days before applying through the RDS system or you will automatically receive a determination of out-of-state. If you do apply too early, you can log back into your RDS account and Request a Reconsideration once you have met the 365 day requirement.

Any questions and concerns can be directed to:, 919-835-2290, or 844-319-3640.

The tuition classification laws described here apply to all constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina – Public System and are taken from NC G.S. 116-143 and the North Carolina State Residence Manual.

RDS Troubleshooting

Reasons why you may be seeing  Out-of-State on your bill or admission letter, even after receiving a decision of In-State from RDS:

  • Residency classifications from RDS are only valid for 15 months. Therefore, if you have applied to a graduate program and completed your RDS determination over 15 months prior to the start of your admit term, your tuition classification at the time of admission will show as Out-of-state. This is the case even if you initially received a decision of In-state from RDS. You will need to go back to RDS to request a “reconsideration” that should extend the expiration date of your In-state determination. Ideally, you would do this about a year, or less than 15 months before the start of date of your first semester of enrollment. You will then need to update your record by following the steps described above in the “Updating your RDS with NC State” section.
  • Expiration dates of documents are factor in RDS determinations. If you are an international student holding a visa or green card with an expiration date prior to the start date of your intended or next semester of enrollment, your residency determination will have an expiration date matching your visa or green card document.
  • RDS is strict with all dates, including students who fall under the Active Duty Military Exception (outlined below). The report date on the active duty member’s military orders or affidavit determines the day the student’s eligibility for in-state tuition begins. Until it is exactly that date, the student’s residency determination will show as out-of-state.

Basic Requirements of Legal Residency

  1. Have 12 months of physical presence in North Carolina.
    • Have held legal residency for at least 12 months prior to the start of the requested term.
    • Demonstrate that you are a legal resident of North Carolina and not just temporarily residing in the state as a student.
    • Have not had any significantly long breaks in physical presence in North Carolina for the past 12 months.
  2. Have the financial and legal ability to establish a domicile.
    • Be (mostly) financially independent from non-North Carolina parents or guardians.
    • Not be a tax dependent of non-North Carolina parents or guardians.
    • Be able to show that you can financially support yourself independent of any out of state sources.
    • Have an independent financial aid status, if using financial aid.
  3. Demonstrate the intent to make North Carolina your home aside from attending school.
    • Complete a cluster of residency acts a year prior to the start of the requested term.
    • Not hold ties to another state that would indicate you are a resident of that state.
    • Explain why some residency acts may not have been able to be completed, if that is the case.

Special Exceptions

  1. Active-Duty Military Stationed in North Carolina, their spouses and their dependents (legal residency is not required to use this benefit).
  2. Full-Time UNC System Employees, their spouses and their dependents (you must be a legal resident of any duration to use this benefit).

Marriage Benefit

If you currently residing in North Carolina and married to a legal North Carolina resident, you are permitted to use your spouse’s time in the state and residentiary acts as your own. Your own abode must be in North Carolina.

International Students

International students may or may not have the capacity to establish a domicile. For those who have capacity, the requirements are the same as those for U.S. Citizens. Examples of eligible immigration classifications are:
Permanent Resident, A-1, A-2, E-1, E-1S, E-2, E-2S, E-3, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, H-1B, H-1C, H-4, I, K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, L-1, L-1A, L-1B, L-2, L-2S, N, O-1, O-3, P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, R-1, R-2, T-1, T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, TPS, U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4, U-5, V-1, V-2, and V-3

Those who do not have capacity cannot qualify as residents for tuition purposes, regardless of any other factors. Ineligible immigration classifications include:  B, C, D, F, J, M Q, S, and TN visas and DACA