§ 116-143.1. Provisions for determining resident status for tuition purposes.
(a) As defined under this section:
(1) A "legal resident" or "resident" is a person who qualifies as a domiciliary of North Carolina; a "nonresident" is a person who does not qualify as a domiciliary of North Carolina.
(2) A "resident for tuition purposes" is a person who qualifies for the in-State tuition rate; a "nonresident for tuition purposes" is a person who does not qualify for the in-State tuition rate.
(3) "Institution of higher education" means any of the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina and the community colleges under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Community Colleges.
(4) "Authority" means the State Education Assistance Authority created by and authorized to act under Article 23 of Chapter 116 of the General Statutes.
(b) To qualify as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must have established legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina and maintained that legal residence for at least 12 months immediately prior to his or her classification as a resident for tuition purposes. Every applicant for admission shall be required to make a statement as to his length of residence in the State.
(c) To be eligible for classification as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must establish that his or her presence in the State currently is, and during the requisite 12-month qualifying period was, for purposes of maintaining a bona fide domicile rather than of maintaining a mere temporary residence or abode incident to enrollment in an institution of higher education.
(d) An individual shall not be classified as a resident for tuition purposes and, thus, not rendered eligible to receive the in-State tuition rate, until he or she has provided such evidence related to legal residence and its duration as may be required by the coordinated and centralized residency determination process administered by the Authority in accordance with this Article acting on behalf of officials of the institution of higher education from which the individual seeks the in-State tuition rate.
(e) When an individual presents evidence that the individual has living parent(s) or court-appointed guardian of the person, the legal residence of such parent(s) or guardian shall be prima facie evidence of the individual's legal residence. This presumption may be reinforced or rebutted relative to the age and general circumstances of the individual by the other evidence of legal residence required of or presented by the individual. An individual may offer evidence of graduation from a North Carolina high school to reinforce or rebut the presumption that the individual's domicile is the same domicile as the individual's living parent or guardian; however, evidence of graduation from a North Carolina high school alone shall not establish legal residence in the State. The legal residence of an individual whose parents are domiciled outside this State shall not be prima facie evidence of the individual's legal residence if the individual has lived in this State the five consecutive years prior to enrolling or reregistering at an institution of higher education.
(f) In making domiciliary determinations related to the classification of persons as residents or nonresidents for tuition purposes, the domicile of a married person, irrespective of sex, shall be determined, as in the case of an unmarried person, by reference to all relevant evidence of domiciliary intent. For purposes of this section:
(1) No person shall be precluded solely by reason of marriage to a person domiciled outside North Carolina from establishing or maintaining legal residence in North Carolina and subsequently qualifying or continuing to qualify as a resident for tuition purposes;
(2) No persons shall be deemed solely by reason of marriage to a person domiciled in North Carolina to have established or maintained a legal residence in North Carolina and subsequently to have qualified or continued to qualify as a resident for tuition purposes;
(3) In determining the domicile of a married person, irrespective of sex, the fact of marriage and the place of domicile of his or her spouse shall be deemed relevant evidence to be considered in ascertaining domiciliary intent.
(g) Any nonresident person, irrespective of sex, who marries a legal resident of this State or marries one who later becomes a legal resident, may, upon becoming a legal resident of this State, accede to the benefit of the spouse's immediately precedent duration as a legal resident for purposes of satisfying the 12-month durational requirement of this section.
(h) No person shall lose his or her resident status for tuition purposes solely by reason of serving in the Armed Forces of the United States outside this State.
(h1) Any member of a North Carolina National Guard unit who is a nonresident shall be eligible to be charged the in-State tuition rate and shall pay the full amount of the in-State tuition rate and applicable mandatory fees. This subsection applies to members in a reserve or active duty status.
(i) A person who, having acquired bona fide legal residence in North Carolina, has been classified as a resident for tuition purposes but who, while enrolled in an institution of higher education, loses North Carolina legal residence, shall continue to enjoy the in-State tuition rate for a statutory grace period. This grace period shall be measured from the date on which the culminating circumstances arose that caused loss of legal residence and shall continue for 12 months; provided, that a resident's marriage to a person domiciled outside of North Carolina shall not be deemed a culminating circumstance even when said resident's spouse continues to be domiciled outside of North Carolina; and provided, further, that if the 12-month period ends during a semester or academic term in which such a former resident is enrolled at an institution of higher education, such grace period shall extend, in addition, to the end of that semester or academic term.
(j) Notwithstanding the prima facie evidence of legal residence of an individual derived pursuant to subsection (e), notwithstanding the presumptions of the legal residence of a minor established by common law, and notwithstanding the authority of a judicially determined custody award of a minor, for purposes of this section, the legal residence of a minor whose parents are divorced, separated, or otherwise living apart shall be deemed to be North Carolina for the time period relative to which either parent is entitled to claim and does in fact claim the minor as a dependent for North Carolina individual income tax purposes. The provisions of this subsection shall pertain only to a minor who is claimed as a dependent by a North Carolina legal resident.
Any person who immediately prior to his or her eighteenth birthday would have been deemed under this subsection a North Carolina legal resident but who achieves majority before enrolling at an institution of higher education shall not lose the benefit of this subsection if that person:
(1) Upon achieving majority, acts, to the extent that the person's degree of actual emancipation permits, in a manner consistent with bona fide legal residence in North Carolina; and
(2) Begins enrollment at an institution of higher education not later than the fall academic term next following completion of education prerequisite to admission at such institution.
(k) Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, a minor who satisfies the following conditions immediately prior to commencement of an enrolled term at an institution of higher education, shall be accorded resident tuition status for that term:
(1) The minor has lived for five or more consecutive years continuing to such term in North Carolina in the home of an adult relative other than a parent, domiciled in this State; and
(2) The adult relative has functioned during those years as a de facto guardian of the minor and exercised day-to-day care, supervision, and control of the minor.
A person who immediately prior to his or her eighteenth birthday qualified for or was accorded resident status for tuition purposes pursuant to this subsection shall be deemed upon achieving majority to be a legal resident of North Carolina of at least 12 months' duration; provided, that the legal residence of such an adult person shall be deemed to continue in North Carolina only so long as the person does not abandon legal residence in this State.
(l) Any person who ceases to be enrolled at or graduates from an institution of higher education while classified as a resident for tuition purposes and subsequently abandons North Carolina domicile shall be permitted to reenroll at an institution of higher education as a resident for tuition purposes without necessity of meeting the 12-month durational requirement of this section if the person reestablishes North Carolina domicile within 12 months of abandonment of North Carolina domicile and continuously maintains the reestablished North Carolina domicile at least through the beginning of the academic term(s) for which in-State tuition status is sought. The benefit of this subsection shall be accorded not more than once to any one person.
(m) Notwithstanding subsection (b) of this section, a person who is a full-time employee of The University of North Carolina, or is the spouse or dependent child of a full-time employee of The University of North Carolina, and who is a legal resident of North Carolina, qualifies as a resident for tuition purposes without having maintained that legal residence for at least 12 months immediately prior to his or her classification as a resident for tuition purposes. (1971, c. 845, ss. 7-9; 1973, cc. 710, 1364, 1377; 1975, c. 436; 1979, cc. 435, 836; 1981, cc. 471, 905; 1987, c. 564, s. 19; 1989, c. 728, s. 1.3; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1030, s. 32; 2004-130, s. 2; 2005-276, s. 9.25(a); 2011-183, s. 83; 2016-57, s. 2(a); 2019-139, s. 3.)