Virginia has many opportunities and provisions enabling active duty military members to obtain in-state tuition benefits. Such personnel can also qualify for state financial aid if they become domiciled residents of Virginia.
Eligibility for In-State Tuition via Domicile
What is Domicile?
A standard way to receive the in-state tuition rate at a Commonwealth college or university is for the student to establish domicile in Virginia. Domicile means the "intent to remain" within the state; your state of domicile is what is commonly referred to as your "home state." Once a person has been domiciled in Virginia, they can be considered for most financial benefits reserved for state residents, including in-state tuition and state financial aid.
How can a military member establish domicile?
To establish domicile in Virginia, active duty military members must provide clear and convincing evidence to the institution that they intend to remain in Virginia. This would include, but is not necessarily limited to, having a physical presence in the state and changing military records to reflect Virginia as the state of Legal Residence (DD-2058). Note that changing the member's Home of Record is not required.
How soon can a military member become eligible?
Eligibility for the in-state tuition rate normally requires that the student wait one year after establishing domicile; however, if active duty personnel establish domicile in Virginia, they are not subject to the one-year waiting period. Instead, they can obtain resident benefits, such as in-state tuition and consideration for state financial aid, as of the next academic term after the confirmed date of domicile. Persons qualifying under this provision still must successfully complete the domicile review process.
What if a military member is reassigned out of Virginia?
Once domicile is established, it is not necessarily affected by a temporary absence from the state. This means that military members may exercise their prerogative to retain their domicile in Virginia regardless of where they are reassigned by the military as their next permanent or temporary work station. Once Virginia domicile is established, military members would only lose this status if they voluntarily change their domicile to another state.
Are there any special military-related domicile provisions?
Yes, if an enrolled Virginia-domiciled student subsequently enters the military through another state's National Guard, they do not necessarily lose their in-state tuition eligibility. Once they separate from the military and are readmitted into their college, these military veterans may continue to receive in-state tuition even while in the process of reestablishing domicile.
Eligibility for In-State Tuition if the Active Duty Member is not Domiciled in Virginia
If an active duty member chooses not to establish domicile in Virginia, special federal and state provisions are still available for in-state tuition. These provisions are not mutually exclusive of one another, which means that a member can claim the benefits of either or both provisions as long as the appropriate eligibility criteria are met.
Federal Provision Under the federal provision, if an active duty member is assigned permanent duty station to a Virginia location, the member is eligible for in-state tuition. Physical residence in Virginia is not required, and renewal eligibility is based on continuous enrollment.
State Provision While the federal provision is based on the duty assignment, the state provision merely requires state residence while on active orders. This means that an active duty member assigned to Washington, DC, Maryland, or any other state can still qualify for in-state tuition as long as they maintain physical residence in Virginia while in active status.
Together, the federal and state provisions mean that an active duty member who is either assigned permanent duty station to Virginia or residing in Virginia can qualify for the in-state tuition rate.
Special Arrangement Contracts
Virginia law allows employers to enter into a Special Arrangement Contract with a Virginia college or university that will permit an out-of-state employee to obtain in-state tuition rates if the employer agrees to be held responsible for the tuition charges. Please note that use of this provision is restricted to the employee only. The institution's admissions office should be able to direct specific questions to the appropriate person on campus.
For more information, contact your Virginia public institution's Admissions Office, or click here to see the provision in the Code of Virginia § 23-7.4:2.F.