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Common Questions About Establishing Domicile

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.

If I am financially dependent on my spouse, can I establish my own domicile?

Yes. Married persons may establish domicile in the same manner as unmarried persons, 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 individual is financially dependent on the spouse. A person who is married and is financially dependent on his or her spouse has the option of claiming the spouse's domicile if the student chooses to do so.

What if I disagree with a college or university's determination of my domicile?

Each public institution of higher education has established an appeals process for students who question a decision on eligibility for in-state tuition. A student who wishes to appeal an institution's final decision may have the case reviewed in circuit court. Decisions concerning student eligibility for the Tuition Assistance Grant Program may be appealed to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Other Ways to Qualify for In-State Tuition

If you are a student at a public institution and you do not establish domicile in Virginia, you might still qualify for in-state tuition if you are:

  • a nonmilitary student whose parent or spouse is a member of the military,
  • a student who lives outside Virginia but who works or whose parent works in Virginia,

  • a student participating in a degree program included in the Academic Common Market,

  • a high school student who is in a dual-enrollment program at a community college,

  • a University of Virginia's College at Wise student who resides in Kentucky and who lives within 50 miles of the University of Virginia's College at Wise, or

  • a student attending college through a special arrangement contract entered by your employer and the institution you plan to attend.

Please contact the college or university you plan to attend to obtain more information about these ways to qualify for in-state tuition.