Residency Requirements

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Establishing A Bona Fide Domicile

The advice from the Office of the Attorney General, Education Division concerning presumption is that before domicile is established, an individual must do everything a resident of Washington is required to do (please see below).

To establish domicile in the state of Washington, students must provide documentation showing they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Live in the state for at least 12 consecutive months as legal residents.

     A legal resident is an individual who has relinquished all valid legal ties (e.g., driver's license, voter registration, etc.) with their former state of residence and established such ties in Washington in accordance with state and local legislation.
  2. Establish legal ties:

    • Driver's license/state ID. Students must obtain a Washington State Driver's License within 30 days of arrival if they have a current out-of-state driver's license. Students who do not possess a driver's license from any state, must obtain a Washington State Identification Card.
    • Vehicle registration. Students who own or drive a vehicle in Washington must be registered in Washington within 30 days of arrival.
    • Voter registration. Students who have a current out-of-state voter's registration must register to vote in Washington within 30 days of arrival. If an individual has previously registered to vote in another state, they must register to vote in Washington. If the student does not register to vote in Washington, this means that they may still vote absentee in the prior state of residency
    • Establish a bank account in Washington.
  3. Be financially independent for the current and prior calendar years.

     Students who are under the age of 25 with parents/legal guardians elsewhere and are establishing a Washington bona fide domicile must show Financial Independence through personal income & include parents' most recent tax returns.
  4. Overcome presumption.

    Students must show conclusively that they have not come to Washington State primarily for educational purposes in order to qualify. One strong method of overcoming this presumption is through significant employment of 30 hours per week at a non-student position. Students can also demonstrate a combination of significant non-student employment and other ties such as community involvement (i.e. volunteering, etc.), active participation in state/local organizations, family, etc. to prove a non-educational purpose. The burden of proof lies on the student to demonstrate they have overcome this presumption.

    Once the individual is in full compliance with all of Washington's requirements for residency, then they, as of that final date of compliance, have established domicile. Once domicile is established, the student is eligible for in-state tuition 12 months from the date of arrival if all legal ties were in place within 30 days. This is because the Washington statute says that domicile must be in existence for one year immediately prior to the first day of the quarter for which the student wants to be classified as a resident.

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