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Residency Process

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The RDS provides four separate processes to reach a residency classification. Most students will only ever complete the Initial Consideration process. The reconsideration and appeal processes are for those students who have had a change in circumstance (reconsideration) or who have not had a change in circumstance and believe their residency classification is incorrect (appeal).

Initial Consideration

The initial consideration is the first step in the residency process. Every applicant is initially classified as either a resident or nonresident. Applicants for admission to a state supported college or university and students seeking to establish their eligibility for state grants may complete the initial residency consideration process before, during, or after submitting an application for admission. The majority of students will complete only this first step in the residency determination process and will be finished with RDS after initial consideration. RDS will share the student's classification with each school, ensuring consistency across schools.

Once the initial consideration is made, the initial classification is not changed unless a student fails validation or the classification is reversed through the reconsideration or appeal process. The initial consideration by the RDS (as well as any subsequent reconsideration) is binding on all institutions of higher education in North Carolina. A student who is initially classified as a nonresident and believes he or she meets the requirements of G.S. 116-143.1 or any other applicable laws may request a reconsideration or an appeal to RDS following the deadlines and procedures outlined in this Section.

As part of the residency determination process, RDS validates the accuracy of the information provided in the RDS online interview with federal and North Carolina state agencies. All students are required to provide a unique identification number such as Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), Alien Registration Number (ARN/A-number), or US Citizenship and Immigration Service number (CIS) to complete a residency determination. These identification numbers may also be required for parents and/or spouses, depending upon the information provided during the online interview. If a student is unwilling to provide one of these identification numbers, RDS is unable to validate the information with federal and state agencies and the student will be classified a non-resident for tuition purposes. All students have the ability to appeal a nonresident decision and the ability to provide additional information to support their North Carolina residency. During an appeal, RDS will consider information pertaining to the student and parent(s) depending on the student's current circumstance.

In addition to providing a unique identification number, students may also be required to submit documentation immediately following their initial consideration request. For initial consideration requests, RDS communicates the residency status immediately following completion of the RDS online interview. This determination is contingent upon submission of any required documentation. If the student does not submit the required documentation before a 25-day deadline, the residency status will change from resident to non-resident.

The list below represents potential information and documentation that may be requested as part of your RDS online interview request. The list represents potential types of information that may be requested and is NOT intended to be all-inclusive:

  • Warranty Deed
  • Rental/lease agreement
  • Federal/state tax return
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Driver's License
  • Voter Registration
  • Military Leave and Earning Statement (LES)
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Approved I-130/140/360
  • Federal tax form to confirm dependent status for parent with approved I-140 /I-130
  • Immigration Court order
  • I-797 Notice of Approval from USCIS
  • Conditional Green Card
  • Marriage certificate
  • North Carolina High School Transcript
  • Pay stubs/1099/W2
  • Utility bills
  • Letter from High School Counselor or Community Organization on Letterhead
  • I-94
  • Copy of Visa
  • Foster Care Court Letter
  • Emancipated Minor Court Letter

Initial Consideration Procedures

The following information provides the general process for completing an initial consideration residency determination request.

  1. Students can access RDS to request an initial consideration in one of three ways:
    • Directly from the homepage of the RDS website (www.ncresidency.org)
    • From their CFNC account (students must be logged in) using the CFNC Applications Hub.
    • Directly from their admissions application through links provided by the campus to which they are applying.
  2. To begin the initial consideration, a student will be requested to login using their CFNC account information and confirm their profile. If the student does not have a CFNC account, and does not wish to create an account, the student may complete an "express" profile. Once the student has set-up an express profile or logged in and confirmed their information in CFNC, the student will be directed to review the RDS Consent and Authorization and will then begin the initial consideration online interview. Students will be asked a series of questions regarding physical address, time living in NC, and other domiciliary acts.

  3. Students have 25 calendar days to complete the online residency interview in full and have the ability to start, stop, and come back to the online interview as needed. If the completed interview is not submitted within 25 calendar days, the request will be cancelled and the student will be required to begin another initial consideration request when the student returns.

  4. Most students will receive a residency classification of "resident" or "non-resident" and a tuition classification of "in-state" or "out-of-state" immediately following their initial consideration request. These classifications will appear on the screen and be emailed to the student's email account listed in the profile. Students will also have the ability to print or save the classification information. Some students may be identified as a non-resident but still be classified for in-state tuition based on their circumstances (such as Active Duty Military).

  5. If the student receives a "non-resident" classification, the student has the option to complete a reconsideration or appeal request. Information on reconsiderations and appeals can be found below in this Section.

  6. If the student receives a "resident" classification, the classification is contingent upon passing validation and the submission of any required documentation. Students may upload, fax, or mail document(s).
    1. Validation: RDS will validate information provided by the student. This validation confirms the accuracy of information provided in the RDS online interview both electronically and manually through required documentation. If the student fails validation, the student's residency classification will change from "resident" to "non-resident" and the student and campus will be notified.
    2. Required documentation: If a student is required to submit documentation to support the RDS classification, a listing of required documents will appear on the student's determination screen at the end of the interview. Not all students will be required to submit documentation. The student has 25 calendar days from the date of their initial consideration for documentation to be RECEIVED by RDS. If the documentation is not submitted and received by RDS within 25 calendar days, the student's residency classification will change from "resident" to "non-resident." No extensions are permitted with documentation deadlines.
      • Uploading documents is the fastest and easiest way to submit documentation. If students choose to fax or mail documentation to RDS, the student should log back in to RDS and verify the documentation faxed or mailed is attached to their account. RDS is not responsible for missing faxed or mailed documents.
      • Student's choosing to fax or mail documents must use the cover sheet provided on the student's home screen. This cover sheet ties the student's documentation to the student's account when received by RDS.
      • The 25 calendar day deadline INCLUDES time for receiving and processing faxes or mailed documentation. Allow at least three days for RDS to receive and process faxes and at least seven to ten days for RDS to receive and process mail.
      • Do not mail original documents. Paper documents will not be returned and RDS is not responsible for missing mail.
  7. Campuses will ask students to provide the RCN they receive as part of the RDS process. Campuses use the RCN to download students' residency status data. If a student requests reconsideration or appeal, the student needs to notify their campus that their information has been changed or updated. It is the responsibility of the student to provide the RCN to the campus. If the student does not provide an RCN, the campus will bill the student as a non-resident.
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Reconsideration

The RDS reconsideration process is for students who:

  • need to correct certain errors in the data submitted during the RDS online interview,
  • have had a change in personal circumstances since completing their current determination, or
  • did not submit the required documentation within the initial consideration deadlines, or
  • were requested by their campus to complete a reconsideration.

Students who request reconsideration will be required to complete the online interview again. Submitting a request for reconsideration does not guarantee the residency classification will change from non-resident to resident. Students are limited to three reconsideration requests every 90 days.

Unlike an initial consideration, students requesting reconsideration will be required to submit documentation identified during the interview along with the reconsideration request. As with any other RDS request, students have 25 calendar days to complete the submission process. If the reconsideration request and required documentation is not submitted within the time allotted, the student's request will be cancelled and their status will remain non-resident. As with the initial consideration, RDS will validate the answers provided in reconsideration with state and federal agencies.

  1. Reconsideration Procedures

    The following information provides the general process for completing a reconsideration request.

    1. Student logs in to RDS (accessed via CFNC, a campus admissions application, or on the RDS website) with their RDS user name and password.
    2. On the student's primary RCN screen, click the "Think your determination is incorrect or about to expire? Need to update your determination for your campus? Click Here" text.
    3. Select the Reconsideration option
    4. Indicate the specific reason for requesting reconsideration by selecting at least one of the approved reasons from the list provided. If the student has experienced multiple changes, the student may select more than one.
    5. Student completes the RDS online interview based upon the current situation.
    6. Once initiated, students have 25 calendar days to complete the reconsideration request in full and have the ability to start, stop, and come back to the online interview as needed. If the request is not submitted within 25 calendar days, the request will automatically be cancelled and the student's status will remain unchanged. Note that a request for reconsideration cannot be submitted until all required documentation is provided. Students should account for this in planning their submission.
      • Required documentation: If a student is required to submit documentation to support the RDS classification, a listing of required documents will appear on the student's RCN screen. Not all students will be required to submit documentation. The student has 25 calendar days from the date of their reconsideration for documentation to be RECEIVED by RDS. If the documentation is not submitted and received by RDS within 25 calendar days, the student's residency classification will change from "resident" to "non-resident." No extensions are permitted with documentation deadlines.
        • Uploading documents is the fastest and easiest way to submit documentation. If students choose to fax or mail documentation to RDS, the student should log back in to RDS and verify the documentation faxed or mailed is attached to their account. RDS is not responsible for missing faxed or mailed documents.
        • Student's choosing to fax or mail documents must use the cover sheet provided on the student's home screen. This cover sheet ties the student's documentation to the student's account when received by RDS.
        • The 25 calendar day deadline INCLUDES time for receiving and processing faxes or mailed documentation. Allow at least three days for RDS to receive and process faxes and at least seven to ten days for RDS to receive and process mail.
        • Do not mail original documents. Paper documents will not be returned and RDS is not responsible for missing mail.
    7. Once the reconsideration request is submitted, RDS will validate the answers provided with state and federal agencies, review the request and any documentation, and make a determination. Status of the RDS review will be available on the student's home RCN page in RDS. The student will be notified of the reconsideration decision via email and also online in the student's RDS account.
    8. It is the student's responsibility to notify their campus of any change in classification. Campuses have access to any change in classification and the effective date. This effective date is the exact date the student submits a completed reconsideration request. This date is critical for the school and student to determine which academic term a residency change (and any resulting change in tuition rate) should be applied. RDS does NOT set the campus deadline for determining the date in which a change in residency status applies; RDS only provides the date in which the reconsideration request was submitted in full.

    Should the student receive the same residency classification through the RDS reconsideration process and disagree with the reconsideration determination, then the student has the option to request an RDS Appeal.

RDS Appeals

The RDS Appeal process is for students whose circumstances have not changed but who believe their residency classification is incorrect. Students have the ability to provide additional information and documentation relating to their appeal request and participate in a face-to-face appeal hearing with RDS.

Students have ten calendar days from the date of the determination they are appealing, or a status change due to a failed validation, to submit a Notification of Appeal through the RDS online system. Requests for appeals are not accepted after the deadline and the student's classification will remain non-resident. In order to submit a Notification of Appeal, students are required to complete the following:

  • Read an overview of the appeal process
  • Read the RDS Guidebook
  • Read the North Carolina state laws specific to residency for tuition purposes; and
  • Certify they have read the required appeal information
  1. RDS Appeal Process

    The following information provides the general process for completing an RDS appeal.
    1. Completing a Notification to Appeal
      • Log into RDS (accessed via CFNC, a campus admissions application, or on the RDS website). On the Residency Status screen, click the "Reconsideration/Appeal" button.
      • Select the "RDS Appeal" option.
      • Review the appeal information: an overview of the appeal process, the RDS Guidebook, and the North Carolina state laws specific to residency.
      • Certify review of the required information and submit the Notification of Appeal. Student has 10 calendar days from the date of the determination they are appealing, or a status change due to a failed validation, to complete this step.
      • Once the student has submitted the Notification of Appeal, the student has 25 days to complete the RDS Appeal.
    2. Completing an RDS Appeal Request
      • Following the Notification of Appeal submission, the student is directed to the RDS appeal request. Students have the ability to complete the request immediately following the Notification to Appeal submission or may log back into RDS at a later day and time to complete the remainder of the RDS appeal request. Students have 25 calendar days from the date of the Notification to Appeal submission to complete the appeal request AND provide documentation relevant to their appeal. Requests for appeals will not be accepted after 25 calendar days from the date of the student's Notification to Appeal submission.
      • To complete the RDS Appeal, answer the following questions:
        • Why are you requesting an RDS Appeal?
        • List all high schools and/or institutions you have attended in the last five years and the dates of enrollment. If you have not attended high school or college within the last five years please enter the State in which you graduated high school.
        • Were you born in NC?
        • Have you ever moved from North Carolina and then returned to North Carolina?
        • Please provide any additional circumstances, events, or acts including employment, community service, memberships, professional, civic, religious and social organizations that demonstrates how you have made and continue to make North Carolina your permanent home.
        • Do you have additional information you would like to provide in support of your appeal?
        • If needed, would you like to participate in a 30 minute appeal review with RDS staff?
      • Provide any other details about the situation that supports the appeal. Include details of any specific additional documents being provided in support of the appeal.
      • Provide any required documentation listed on their appeal request. Not all appeals will require documentation.
      • Provide the additional documentation specified in the narrative. Do not include documents that have not been explained as part of the appeal request narrative.
      • Submit the appeal request.
        • A request for appeal cannot be submitted until all identified documents (required and optional) are provided and linked to the request. Students may upload the document(s) directly to their request and submit the request immediately.
        • Students choosing to fax or mail documents as part of their appeal MUST log back into RDS and click submit once documents have been received and processed by RDS. RDS has no way to know if a student is providing non-required documentation. Therefore, if a student chooses to fax or mail documentation the student MUST log back in to RDS, verify the documentation is processed, and submit the appeal request.
        • The 25 day deadline for RDS to receive the documentation INCLUDES time for receiving and processing faxes or mailed documentation. Student's choosing to fax or mail documents must use the cover sheet provided on the student's home screen. This cover sheet ties the documentation to the student's request when received by RDS. RDS is not responsible for missing faxed or mailed documentation.
        • Allow at least two to three days for RDS to receive and process faxes and at least seven to ten days for RDS to receive and process mailed documents. Do not mail original documents. Paper documents will not be returned and RDS is not responsible for missing mail.
      • RDS staff will review the appeal request, supporting documentation, original determination information, and validation information.
      • RDS staff may contact the student for additional information, to ask questions, or to offer an appeal hearing regarding the appeal request. RDS will contact students using the information provided in the user profile; students should ensure profile information contains correct email and telephone contact information. RDS is NOT responsible for the inability to contact a student as a result of incorrect contact information.
      • Failure to comply with a RDS request for additional documentation or failure to comply with deadlines will forfeit your opportunity to an appeal hearing and RDS will make an informed decision using the information on file. Appeals to the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) that do not comply with RDS procedures and deadlines will no longer have the ability to appeal to the NCSEAA.
      • The optional appeal hearing provides an opportunity for the student to discuss the information they have provided and answer any additional questions that may impact their case for appeal. Hearings may be conducted in person, video conference, or over the telephone.
      • If the student chooses to schedule a hearing, the determination will be decided following the appeal hearing. If the student does not choose to schedule an appeal hearing, or does not attend the scheduled hearing, RDS will make a final decision based on the information the student provided.
      • Upon final determination of the RDS Appeal, the student is notified of the final decision, any change of classification is updated in RDS. Because the SEAA is exempt from the North Carolina Administrative Procedure Act (except for judicial review), and such entities are not required to give reasons for their decisions, the RDS will not state reasons for its decision.
      • It is the student's responsibility to notify their campus of any change in classification. Campuses have access to any change in classification and the effective date. This date is critical for the school and student to determine which academic term a residency change (and any resulting change in tuition rate) should be applied. RDS does NOT set the campus deadline for determining the date in which a change in residency status applies; RDS only provides the date in which the request was submitted in full. In the case of an appeal request, the effective date is the date of the student's request that is being appealed (i.e. the initial consideration or reconsideration submission date).

    Should the student receive the same classification through the RDS appeal process and disagree with the appeal determination, then the student has the option to request an SEAA Statewide Appeals Committee decision.

SEAA Statewide Appeal Committee

The SEAA Appeal process is for students who disagree with the RDS appeal determination. This appeal process is the final step in the residency process unless a student chooses to move forward with judicial review.

  1. Basis of Review
    Because the SEAA Statewide Appeals Committee is a court of appeals, it reviews the RDS decision based on the facts presented through information gathered during the RDS decision-making process; the Committee does not conduct its own independent inquiry into the facts of the case by gathering new information not previously received by the RDS. The Committee reviews all of the documents that RDS relied on in making all levels of decisions - initial consideration, reconsideration, and RDS appeal - as well as residency record statements. The SEAA Statewide Appeals Committee will not consider information submitted by RDS that were not included as part of the RDS decision-making process.

    Appeals to the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) that do not comply with RDS procedures and deadlines will no longer have the ability to appeal to the NCSEAA.

  2. Completing an SEAA Appeal Request
    Students are not permitted to provide any additional information or documentation to support their appeal request in the SEAA Appeal. Students have 10 calendar days from the RDS appeal determination to submit a SEAA notification to appeal. The following information provides the general process used by a student to complete an SEAA Appeal:
    1. Log into RDS (accessed via CFNC, a campus admissions application, or on the RDS website). On the Residency Status screen, click the "Reconsideration/Appeal" button.
    2. Select the "You believe the RDS Appeal determination is incorrect and you would like to appeal your decision to the SEAA Appeal Committee" radio button.
    3. Review the Overview of the SEAA Appeal Process and submit the Notification to Appeal; students have 10 calendar days from the date of the RDS Appeal classification to complete this step. Students will not be permitted to submit a notification to appeal after 10 calendar days from the RDS Appeal determination decision. Following the Notification to Appeal submission, students have 25 days to complete and submit the SEAA Appeal.
    4. To complete the SEAA Appeal, provide the following information:
      1. Identify the ground(s) for appeal. The sole grounds for appeal to SEAA are:
        1. RDS disregarded or made a mistake interpreting the requirements of the law or RDS Guidebook when making the decision.
        2. The RDS Guidebook contains no policy that specifically addresses my circumstances, so the RDS decision is unsupported by policy.
        3. The policies as currently stated in the RDS Guidebook do not reflect the current state of law.
        4. The RDS decision is not reasonably supported by the evidence as presented in the record.
      2. For each of the grounds for appeal indicated, provide a description of how the ground(s) for appeal specifically applies to the appeal case or situation.
    5. Following the Notification to Appeal submission, review the residency record. This record contains all materials which constituted the basis of the RDS determination, including the student's responses to the RDS online interview, any required documentation, validation results, and any additional information or documentation supplied by the student in reference to the determination. If the student believes the record is incomplete or defective (in that it either omits materials which were a part of the RDS determination or that is includes written materials which were not a part of the RDS determination), the student may request modification of the residency record by providing a statement on the SEAA Appeal determination request form.
    6. Submit the SEAA Appeal request within 25 days from the date of the Notification to Appeal submission.
    7. Once the request is complete, an appeal hearing will be scheduled by SEAA with the SEAA Appeals Committee. All appeals will be considered and resolved on the basis of the residency record. No appearances - whether in person or via technology - will be permitted by the student either personally, through a representative, or from RDS.

RDS will notify the student of the SEAA Appeals Committee decision within ten days of the date of the decision. Because the SEAA is exempt from the North Carolina Administrative Procedure Act (except for judicial review), and such entities are not required to give reasons for their decisions , the SEAA Appeals Committee will not state reasons for its decision.