Moving to Arizona? You May Qualify for In-State Tuition at Arizona Public Universities
The Arizona Board of Regents governs Arizona's public university system, overseeing Arizona State University, Northern University of Arizona and the University of Arizona. The Board is required by law to establish uniform criterion for determining the residency status of students for tuition purposes. All three public universities employ the same procedures for determining whether students qualify for in-state and out-of-state tuition.
As a general rule, most out-of-state students are not eligible to file a petition to change their residency status for tuition purposes until they have resided in Arizona for at least twelve consecutive months. However, students are exempt from this requirement if they fall into one of the following categories:
1. Dependent Students.
A student under seventeen years old is entitled to in-state tuition if the student, a parent, or legal guardian has "established domicile" in Arizona and the student's parent or legal guardian is entitled to claim the student as a dependent for state and federal tax purposes.
A student legally married to an Arizona resident qualifies for in-state tuition if he or she is domiciled in Arizona and his or her spouse is financially dependent, has lived in Arizona for twelve consecutive months, and can claim the student for a tax exemption.
3. Transferred Employees.
A student who is an employee or the spouse of an employee transferred to Arizona by his or her employer qualifies for in-state tuition in limited circumstances.
A student employed by an Arizona school district and is under contract to teach full time or is employed as a full-time non-certified class aide is eligible for in-state tuition for courses necessary to obtain a certification from the State Board of Education to teach in Arizona school districts.
5. Military Personnel Stationed in Arizona.
A student who is a member of the armed forces (or the member's spouse or dependent child) and is stationed in Arizona pursuant to military orders is eligible for in-state tuition.
6. Military Personnel Stationed Outside of Arizona.
A student who is a member of the armed forces (or the member's spouse or dependent child) who is stationed outside of Arizona pursuant to military orders is entitled to in-statute tuition if the student claimed Arizona as his or her legal residence at least twelve consecutive months prior to the last date of registration for classes.
7. Former Military Personnel.
A student who has been honorably discharged from the uniformed services or has retired from active duty to reserve or National Guard status is entitled to in state tuition if the student has objective evidence that he or she intends to be an Arizona resident.
8. Native Americans.
A student who is an enrolled member of a tribe recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior and who resides in reservation land wholly or partially in Arizona and extends into another state is entitled to in-statute tuition.
9. Students within 75 Miles of the Arizona Border.
A student living within 75 miles of the Arizona border in specifically designated counties qualifies for in-state tuition for up to six credit hours per semester for courses offered by Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, or University of Arizona in Mohave, La Paz or Yuma County.
10. Graduate/Doctoral Students.
In some instances, graduate and/or doctoral students that meet specific criteria qualify for in-state tuition.
11. Americorp/VISTA Personnel.
A Student who has served one year in either Americorp or the Volunteers in Service to America ("VISTA") program in Arizona qualifies for in-state tuition.
However, even students that do not fall into one of these categories may nevertheless qualify for in-state tuition. A non-resident student interested in paying in-state tuition should consult with an experienced education attorney. Ideally, the student should consult with an attorney upon moving to Arizona to determine if he or she is immediately eligible for in-state tuition. Even if the student is not immediately eligible, an attorney will develop a clear and definite plan for the student to follow for the twelve months preceding the student's eligibility to petition to change his or her residency status.
About the Author: Alden Thomas is a partner at Jaburg Wilk who primarily practices in the areas of education and employment law. She assists students with multiple issues, including with petitions to change their residency classifications and appeals of denied petitions. She also defends students accused of committing honor code violations and represents students with discrimination claims.