Residency Information

Questions and Answers About Residency Requirements for UH Tuition Purposes

The University of Hawaiʻi, like all public institutions of higher learning, has residency requirements for payment of resident tuition. These requirements, similar to those of other states, are complex.

Consequently, students applying to the University often have questions about their residency status as it applies to tuition. The following section is designed to acquaint you with the University of Hawaiʻi’s residency regulations and to answer some of the questions you may have. The following information is not a complete explanation of the laws and regulations about residency. Furthermore, residency rules may change as a result of legislation or administrative action. Residency officers on all campuses have up-to-date information on all aspects of residency.

Detailed information is available: Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4 (PDF).

1. What are the residency requirements which determine whether I pay resident or nonresident tuition?

Hawaiʻi law says that to qualify for resident tuition, you must have been a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi for at least twelve (12) consecutive months prior to enrollment, if you are an adult student (18 years or older). If you are a minor student, your parents or guardians must have been bona fide residents for at least twelve consecutive months.

In addition, whether you are an adult or a minor, for the 12 month period prior to your enrollment, you must not have been claimed as a dependent for tax purposes by your parents or guardians if they are not legal residents of Hawaiʻi.

2. What do you mean by bona fide residence?

Bona fide residence is synonymous with the legal concept of domicile. A person’s domicile is the place where that person lives permanently and returns to after any absence. To be a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi you must be physically present in the State and demonstrate you intent to make Hawaiʻi your permanent home.

3. How would I demonstrate my intent to make Hawaiʻi my permanent home?

No single action will demonstrate your intent. The University will look for a combination of actions when evaluating your residency status.

Of all the possible actions you might take, the most important are:

  1. filing a Hawaiʻi resident personal income tax form; and
  2. registering to vote and voting in Hawaiʻi.

Other actions may be considered. These include:

  1. ownership or continuous lease of a home in Hawaiʻi;
  2. permanent or continuous employment in Hawaiʻi; and
  3. presence of spouse, children, and other close relatives in Hawaiʻi.

Of course, you may report any other actions that you wish to have considered.

4. What else should I know about Hawaiʻi’s residency requirements?

You should understand the following:

  1. In order to be a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi for tuition purposes, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the United States.
  2. You cannot maintain domicile in Hawaiʻi and in another place simultaneously. In other words, you cannot be a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi if you appear to maintain your domicile somewhere else.
  3. The twelve month period begins when you take the first action demonstrating your intent to make Hawaiʻi your permanent residence.
  4. You cannot establish residency by simply being enrolled in the University. If you are a nonresident student, it will be presumed that you are living in Hawaiʻi primarily to attend school, and your presence is temporary even if you live in Hawaiʻi during vacation and other breaks from study. You may overcome this presumption only by other actions which demonstrate your intent to reside permanently in Hawaiʻi.

5. I have heard that some nonresidents pay resident tuition. Is this true?

Yes. State law established several categories of nonresident students who are allowed to pay resident tuition:

  1. United States military personnel and their authorized family members only during the period they are stationed in Hawaiʻi on active duty.
  2. VA beneficiaries that meet the requirements under the Veteran Exemption to Non-Resident Tuition Rate. Find out if you qualify at Veteran and Military Student Services services.
  3. Persons domiciled in any Pacific island or Asian district, commonwealth, territory, jurisdiction, state, or nation which provides no public institution of higher learning.
  4. Certain employees of the University of Hawaiʻi and their spouses and dependents.
  5. East-West Center student grantees pursuing baccalaureate or advanced degrees at the University of Hawaiʻi.

6. I intend to live in Hawaiʻi permanently and would like to establish residency. What should I do first?

If you are living in Hawaiʻi and you wish to establish residency, you should begin by doing the following:

  1. File a Hawaiʻi resident personal income tax form.
  2. Register to vote and vote in Hawaiʻi.
  3. Keep written records showing the date you purchased a home or leased a residence.
  4. Keep written records showing the dates of your employment, the date you opened a bank account, etc.
  5. List spouse, children or other close relatives living in Hawaiʻi.
  6. Gather any other documents that you feel may be used to substantiate your claim of Hawaiʻi residency.

7. Who determines my residency status?

The residency officer at each campus determines the resident or nonresident status of all students at that campus, based upon governing rules and regulations. If the residency process seems somewhat rigorous and detailed, it is because residency officers, by law, must be precise in determining a student’s residency status.

If you’re already attending the University as a nonresident and believe that you now qualify for resident tuition, you must request to be re-classified.

8. If I disagree with the determination, what recourse do I have?

There is an appeal process. You may contact the Katherine “Kati” McGinnis for information regarding appeal of your residency decision.

9. How can I learn more about the residency requirements which determine my tuition?

You will find detailed information in Rules and Regulations Governing Determination of Residency as Applied to Tuition Payments and Admission at All Institutions under the Jurisdiction of the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaiʻi, available at the Admissions Office on the campus you wish to attend.