[ skip to content ]

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is information about the determination of in-state residency, including a definition of terms, the SCHEV guidelines for establishing residency, and frequently asked questions about receiving the military spouse/dependent tuition benefit.

Spouses and dependent children of active duty military who may qualify for the Military Dependent Tuition Benefit are strongly encouraged to contact the Office of the University Registrar or the appropriate base representatives for full information and application forms. All forms are available from the Forms page of this web site.

For further information, contact:

  • ODU Registrar's Office (757) 683-4425, or e-mail the Domicile/Residency staff at instate@odu.edu
  • your base representative:
    • FCTCL Dam Neck (757) 492-8109
    • Ft. Eustis, Ft. Monroe, Langley AFB (757) 722-8543
    • NAB Little Creek (757) 363-3885
    • NAS Oceana (757) 491-5109
    • Naval Station Norfolk (757) 440-4015



Domicile is the present, fixed home of an individual to which he or she returns following temporary absences and at which he or she intends to remain indefinitely. Domicile in the Commonwealth must be established 12 months prior to the first day of class.

Domiciliary Intent

Intent, together with physical presence, establishes domicile (residency). The tuition law lists several factors which can be used to determine if intent has been established. No one factor is sufficient. In determining domiciliary intent, all of the following factors applicable to the individual are considered:

  • payment of Virginia state income tax as a resident
  • registering to vote in Virginia
  • ownership of real property in Virginia
  • acceptance of permanent employment in Virginia
  • obtaining a Virginia motor vehicle operator's license
  • registration of a motor vehicle in Virginia
  • continuous residence in the state of Virginia for at least one year prior to the first day of classes
  • sources of financial support
  • location of checking or savings accounts or other economic relationship to Virginia
  • any other factors which are peculiar to the individual which tend to establish intent to make Virginia one's permanent home.

The burden is assumed by the applicant to provide as much information and documentation as appropriate to support intent. There is no one set of criteria applied to an individual to document peculiar circumstances.

Substantial Financial Support

Substantial financial support means financial support in an amount which equals or exceeds that required to qualify the individual to be listed as a dependent on federal and state income tax returns (more than 50%).

Dependent Student

Any student who is listed as a dependent on the federal or state income tax return of his or her parent or legal guardian or who receives substantial financial support from his or her parents or legal guardian.

Independent Student

Any student whose parents have surrendered the right to his or her care, custody and earnings, have ceased to support him or her, and have not claimed him or her as a dependent on federal and state income tax returns for at least 12 months prior to the date of the alleged entitlement.

Emancipated Minor

An emancipated minor is a student under the age of 18 whose parents or guardians have surrendered the right to his or her care, custody and earnings and who no longer claim him or her as a dependent for tax purposes.

Legal Guardian

A legal guardian is someone appointed by the court with personal or financial responsibility for a minor. Note: Court verification that the appointment was not for tuition purposes and that parents do not contribute to the minor's support is required routinely.

Establishing Residency (SCHEV)

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia provides general, descriptive information about establishing Virginia domicile in order to qualify for in-state tuition. Inquiries about institutional tuition classification decisions, or explanations involving special circumstances, should be directed to the institution a student plans to attend.

How are the rules and procedures established for considering individuals as "in-state" students for tuition purposes?

The conditions by which a student may be considered "in-state" for purposes of tuition classification are set forth by Chapter 23-7.4 of the Code of Virginia. Although individuals may be considered state residents for voting and other legal purposes after being in the state for a short period of time, the Code outlines specific additional requirements that must be met to be classified as "in-state" for tuition purposes.

How long must I be domiciled in Virginia before I can be considered "in-state" for tuition purposes?

By law a student or the student's parent(s) must be domiciled in Virginia for at least 12 continuous months immediately preceding the first day of classes.

May I leave the state for vacations or summer work while establishing my "in-state" status?

Yes, but you must maintain the Virginia connections you have established, such as claiming any income as Virginia income for tax purposes. Any interruption or change in these connections could be sufficient cause to negate whatever domicile has been established and could result in having to reestablish domicile upon returning to Virginia. You should check with the institutional tuition classification officer before you leave the state.

Can I establish "in-state" status as a student?

Yes, but the mere fact that you are a student is not sufficient evidence to consider you "in-state." Physical presence and intent must be demonstrated.

If I marry a Virginia resident or live with a relative who is a Virginia resident, am I considered an "in-state" student?

Not necessarily. Each individual must establish his or her own domicile as prescribed by tuition law.

Does the tuition classification law affect students who attend private schools?

Yes, recipients of the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) and other Virginia student aid programs must be domiciliary residents.

Are non-U.S. citizens capable of establishing "in-state" classification?

Non-U.S. citizens are legally capable of establishing domicile where they have been granted the status of lawful permanent residents by the U.S. Immigration Service. Immigrants may claim, and seek to prove, eligibility for in-state tuition rates as Virginia domicile as any citizen of the United States. The burden is on the student to establish, clearly and convincingly, his or her domicile in Virginia for the requisite one-year period.

Are dependents and spouses of active duty military personnel always required to pay out-of-state tuition at public institutions?

No. The Code of Virginia provides some exceptions under which in-state tuition or reduced tuition rates might be available. Effective Fall 2006, all dependents of active duty military personnel who are assigned to a permanent duty station in Virginia, and who reside in Virginia, are eligible to receive in-state tuition to the Commonwealth's colleges and universities, so long as they are continuously enrolled in the institution. Military spouses and dependents must APPLY for this benefit. See Military Students and Spouses.

Can the non-military spouse establish Virginia domicile separate from the domicile of the active duty military spouse?

Yes. The non-military spouse must meet the same domicile requirements as any new resident to the state.

To establish domicile, are active duty military persons required to meet the one-year residence requirement?

No. Effective July 1, 2007, active duty military who are assigned to a Virginia military installation and reside in Virginia are eligible for the in-state tuition rate. Military students must APPLY to receive the in-state rate. See Military Students and Spouses.

Is the tuition classification decision at one institution transferable to another institution?

No. Applicants must petition separately at each institution. Each institution must have appropriate documentation to support its classification decision.

What if I disagree with a tuition classification decision?

Each public institution of higher education has established an appeals process for students who question decisions on eligibility for in-state charges. The appeals process includes an immediate review and a final administrative review. Due process procedures shall be in writing and shall include time limitations in order to provide for orderly and timely resolutions of all disputes. Any party aggrieved by a final administrative decision shall have the right of review in the Circuit Court for the jurisdiction in which the institution is located.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, or disability in employment of the provision of services.

Military Dependent Tuition Benefit - Applying

How do I apply for the tuition benefit?

A Military Dependent Tuition Benefit Form and a copy of the military member's orders to Virginia must be submitted to the Office of the University Registrar prior to beginning classes.

How will I know if I quality for this benefit?

After the application for the benefit has been processed, the student will be notified in writing that they will receive in-state tuition based on this benefit.

When does this benefit expire?

The tuition benefit applies as long as the student is continuously enrolled at the University.

Military Dependent Tuition Benefit - Expiration

Does the Military Dependent Tuition Benefit expire? Is it transferable to another institution?

No. The Military Dependent Tuition Benefit, once approved, applies as long as the student is continuously enrolled at the University. The benefit does NOT transfer to another institution. If the student transfers, eligibility must be re-established at that institution.

How else can a military spouse maintain in-state tuition?

To establish eligibility if the Military Dependent Tuition Benefit does not apply, the spouse must be employed full-time in Virginia, and pay Virginia income taxes on all taxable income.

If the spouse does not meet the qualifications as set forth in this provision, the spouse may qualify in one of the following three ways:

  • Live in the state for one year and for that year have a Virginia driver's license, vehicle registration, and voter registration.
  • The military person changes his/her legal state of residence to Virginia (which entails paying Virginia state taxes on his/her military income, obtaining a Virginia driver's license, vehicle registration and voter registration), in which case the spouse could become eligible for the in-state tuition immediately.
  • Live in the state for one year, make the equivalent of a full-time income ($10,300) and file Virginia state taxes on that income. If you do this, you do not have to change driver's license, vehicle registration and voter registration. This is known as the military exception rule.

*Please see Definitions for the definition of dependent.

To determine eligibility for in-state tuition, each student must complete an Application for In-state Tuition and provide documentation of entitlement to in-state status.