State Residence

The North Carolina General Assembly has enacted a detailed statutory scheme for determining who does and who does not qualify for in-state tuition.  That statutory scheme is found in Article 14 of Chapter 116 of the North Carolina General Statutes, which mandates that only those who can demonstrate a minimum of twelve months of uninterrupted domicile (legal residence) in North Carolina are eligible for in-state tuition. 

The statute also places on applicants the burden of establishing by a preponderance of evidence that they are bona fide domiciliaries rather than mere residents of North Carolina.

State Residence Classification Manual

Important Information Regarding Residency

Residency Determination System (RDS)

A new online service to determine North Carolina residency for tuition purposes and eligibility for state grants is now available to all NC colleges and universities. An early release of the NC Residency Determination Service (RDS) was introduced to a subset of students at the NC Independent Colleges and Universities in December 2016, and is now required for all undergraduate students at UNC institutions and for all NC community colleges.  RDS is managed by the State Education Assitance Authority (SEAA), which is responsible for all appeals of residency determinations made through the RDS.

Graduate and professional schools applicants will be brought into RDS in a later phase.

RDS uses an “online interview” for residency determination.  Students can access RDS through the student’s CFNC account, through all CFNC admissions applications, through campus admissions applications, or directly through the Residency Determination Service (RDS) website at

The RDS site provides guidance on state law residency requirements, RDS policies, and using the RDS online interview.  The RDS site will answer most questions. However, if additional information is needed, please call (844) 319-3640 or email