During the college and financial aid application processes, whether you are considered a Washington State resident is important for two different reasons:
- You must be a resident to qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges, which is typically less expensive than out-of-state (non-resident) rates.
- You must be a resident to be eligible for state financial aid programs.
In Washington State, both U.S. citizens and non-citizens can qualify for residency for tuition and financial aid purposes by meeting residency criteria.
In most cases*, students who are U.S. citizens, eligible non-citizens (as defined by the U.S. Department of Education), and students with DACA (Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals) status may qualify for state residency when they are either:
A financially independent student who has established a domicile in Washington by taking certain actions and permanently lived in the state for purposes other than attending college at least one year before enrollment at an institution.
A dependent student whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) have established a domicile in Washington by taking certain actions and permanently lived in the state for purposes other than attending college, at least one year before the student’s enrollment at an institution.
*Note: More detailed residency criteria is available on the Washington Student Achievement Council's website.
Students who are not U.S. citizens may be eligible for in-state tuition and state financial aid when they meet three criteria:
- Earned a diploma from a Washington State high school (or obtained a GED or equivalent).
- Lived in Washington for at least three calendar years (36 months) before earning the high school diploma or equivalent and continuously since.
- Sign an affidavit (written promise) affirming eligibility and promising to become a permanent resident/citizen of the United States when eligible to apply.
Residency for Tuition: If you believe you meet the criteria above and qualify for residency for tuition purposes, contact the residency officer at your college. They can assist you with documenting your residency at their institution.
Residency for Financial Aid: If you believe you meet the criteria above and qualify for residency for financial aid purposes, you must still apply for financial aid to be considered.
- If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
- If you are a student with DACA status or a non-citizen, apply for financial aid by completing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA).
If you are not currently a citizen and wish to become one, there are several resources available to assist with citizenship and the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals application processes: