Financially Independent Student

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Financially Independent Students

Students whose parents or court-appointed legal guardians do not reside in Washington can only obtain residency by fulfilling the requirements as a financially independent student. Students must complete and sign the Residence Questionnaire form (both pages) and provide all documentation as requested on the Residence Questionnaire and the Financially Independent Student Documentation Checklist. 

In addition to documentation that the student has met all requirements for bona fide residency, the following is required:

For students 25 years of age or younger 

(Single/Unmarried)

To be considered financially independent, students must meet the following criteria:

  1. Parents/legal guardians have not claimed and will not claim the student as a dependent on Federal Income Tax returns for the current and previous calendar year.
  2. Parents/legal guardians or others (except spouse) have not and will not provide the student with significant financial assistance, directly or indirectly, for the current and previous calendar year.
  3. Students have been and will be independently paying at least 51% of their expenses (cost of attendance and living) with their own income for the current calendar year and previous calendar year.

Students must also provide documentation showing independent payments of the majority of their expenses for the previous calendar/tax year and independent payment of, or the ability to independently pay, the majority of their expenses for the current calendar/tax year.

These documents include:

  • A copy of the students' most recent tax return (first two pages only showing income).
  • A copy of the parents' most recent tax return (top half of first page only), showing dependents claimed.
  • Verification of year-to-date earnings (i.e., a copy of the student's most recent pay stub with year-to-date earnings total listed).

Note: A married student applying for residency status should apply as a financially independent student.

For students 25 years of age or younger

(Married/Domestic Partnership)

Students who are receiving significant financial assistance from a spouse or registered domestic partner can qualify as financially independent as long as the marriage or domestic partnership has been in place for at least one calendar year prior to the quarter of application for residency. Documentation must be provided.

To establish a bona fide domicile, Financially Independent students must

Complete all basic requirements that a legal Washington resident is required to do by law.

Individuals must provide documentation showing they meet the following guidelines to establish WA domicile:

  1. Physically reside in the state for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the first day of the quarter students are seeking residency.
  2. A legal resident must also relinquish all valid legal ties (for example, driver's license, voter registration, etc.) with their former state/country of residence and affirmatively create legal ties and relationships in the state of Washington in accordance with state and local legislation.
  3. Students must demonstrate they are financially independent for the current calendar year for which they are applying for residency and the previous calendar year. This means the student has and will be paying for the majority of their expenses (cost of attendance and living expenses) with their own income and resources, that they are not and have not received significant financial assistance from parents, legal guardians, or others during that time period, and that they were not and will not be claimed as a dependent on a parents'/legal guardians' tax return for the previous or current calendar year.
  4. Students who are enrolled for 7 credits or more each term during the period they are in which they are establishing bona fide legal domicile are presumed by lay to be in Washington State for purposes of education. 

Items needed to establish legal ties:

  • Driver's license/state ID. If students possess current, out-of-state driver's licenses, they must obtain a Washington State Driver's License within 30 days of arrival, including international driver's license. If an individual does not drive or possess a driver's license from any state or country, s/he must obtain a Washington State Identification Card.
  • Vehicle registration. Individuals who own or operate a vehicle in Washington must have their vehicle registered in Washington within 30 days of arrival.
  • Voter registration. Individuals who have previously registered to vote in their former state of residence must register to vote in Washington. Permanent Resident Card holders or any other status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) are exempt from registering to vote.
  • Establish a bank account in Washington. Existing bank accounts prior to arriving in Washington is sufficient as long as one's name and Washington address is associated with the account and documented.
  • Lease/home agreement

Examples of other factors that might help students establish proof of domicile include the disposition of property in the former state of residence, relocation of household members, and generally becoming involved in activities that will help prove their intent to make Washington their official state of residence.

All domicile must be established at least one year immediately prior to the first day of the quarter the student is seeking residency. Once the individual is in full compliance with all of Washington State's requirements for residency, then s/he, as of that final date of compliance, has established domicile and is eligible to apply for residency. It is the student's responsibility to request a change in residency status once all requirements have been met.