Residency Status for Tuition Classification
The state of Colorado partially subsidizes the cost of tuition for all students whose domicile, or permanent legal residence, is in Colorado. Each Western student is classified as either an “in-state resident” or a “non-resident” at the time of matriculation. These classifications are based upon information furnished by each student on the application for admission to Western.
The specific requirements for establishing residency for tuition classification are prescribed by state law (Colorado Revised Statutes § 23-7-101, et seq.). Because Colorado law governs Colorado residency status, the fact that a student might not qualify for in-state status in any other state does not guarantee in-state status in Colorado. Moreover, it is presumed that a student classified as a non-resident at the time of matriculation who seeks to establish Colorado domicile while registered at Western seeks Colorado domicile not solely for tuition purposes. The student can rebut this presumption and be deemed an in-state resident only by proof of clear and convincing evidence of their eligibility for this status.
Incoming Students: Tuition Classification
Current Students: Petition for In-State Tuition Classification
- Choice Application
- Promise Application
Forms for current students and veterans can be obtained by contacting the Tuition Classification Officer:
“Domicile” is used to describe the place where an individual has demonstrated intent to make a permanent home and legal residence. Both physical presence and evidence of intent must be in place to begin the domicile year. A “qualified individual” must reside in Colorado with the intent to make Colorado their permanent home and legal residence.
Colorado residency requires a domicile in Colorado for 12 continuous months on or prior to the first day of classes of each semester.
Since domicile is defined as a permanent home and legal residence, being in Colorado solely for school purposes and/or temporarily for other purposes does not qualify as domicile for Colorado residency.
- Physical presence is your actual permanent home and legal residence. Proof of physical presence may include all of the following:
- Lease agreements
- Rent receipts
- Home ownership
- Notarized statement from a landlord
- Evidence of intent to make Colorado your permanent home and legal residence is demonstrated by giving up all your legal ties with your prior state and establishing them with Colorado for 12 continuous months. Proof that demonstrates evidence of intent, as specified by the residency statute, may include all the following:
- Colorado driver’s license or valid Colorado ID
- Colorado motor vehicle registration
- Permanent, full-time, off-campus employment
- Colorado voter registration
- Change in permanent address on all pertinent records
- Payment of Colorado state income taxes as a Colorado resident
- Withholding of Colorado state taxes from wages
- Ownership of residential property in Colorado
You are expected to take appropriate action on all factors relevant in your circumstance.
Evidence of legal ties outside of Colorado during the domicile year that demonstrates residency in another state may include the following:
- Failure to file a Colorado state income tax return
- Failure to have Colorado state income taxes withheld from your wages
- Filing a Colorado state income tax return as a non-resident
- Failure to obtain a Colorado driver’s license or Colorado ID
- Use of the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) discount as a benefit given to students specifically as residents from certain states
- Maintenance of a home in another state
- Prolonged absence from Colorado
- Vehicle you operate is registered in another state
- Residing in another state between academic terms or when not enrolled as a student
- Any other factor unique to the individual which tends to imply your permanent home and legal residence is in another state
The fact that an individual does not qualify for residency in any other state does not guarantee Colorado residency.
Exceptions to One-Year Domicile Requirement
If you are not a qualified individual and your parents had Colorado domicile for four or more years and then moved to another state after you completed your junior year of high school and you enroll at a Colorado public college or university within three years and six months after your parents left Colorado, you may be eligible for Colorado residency. Please contact Financial Aid for the appropriate form and documentation that will need to be submitted at least four weeks prior to the start of the semester.
Attended Colorado High School for Three Years
A student (other than a nonimmigrant alien) who meets the below criteria is eligible for in-state tuition classification. This includes U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens and students without lawful immigration status.
- Enrolled for at least three years at a public/private Colorado high school immediately preceding graduation or earning a GED
- Admission into Colorado institution of higher education/attends a reciprocal program within 12 months of high school graduation or earning a GED
- Students without lawful immigration status are required to submit an affidavit (one time on the COF website) stating that the student has applied for lawful presence or will apply as soon as he or she is eligible to do so
Students who graduated from a Colorado high school or completed GED prior to September 1, 2013 and were not admitted into college within 12 months but meet ALL other eligibility criteria may qualify for in-state tuition by providing documentation to the school proving that the student has been physically present in Colorado for 18 months prior to enrolling. Please contact Financial Aid if you have questions.
Parents who have moved to Colorado and meet the domicile requirements may submit a “Petition for In-State Tuition Classification,” which supports their domicile. If their petition is approved, their dependents are eligible for Colorado residency.
Other Qualified Individuals
You are a qualified individual and eligible to establish domicile separate from your parents if, at the beginning of the 12-month domicile year, you were:
- 22 years of age or older
- A graduate student
An emancipated minor is an individual under 23 years of age who is no longer considered a dependent and is not supported by their parent(s) or any other individual. An emancipated minor can begin establishing their domicile on the date they become emancipated.
Emancipation Must Be Proven in the Following Way:
- Parents or other individuals must no longer support the minor and make no provision for support. Support includes gifts, trust funds, loans and assets established by parents or someone other than yourself on your behalf regardless of the date of receipt.
- Parents must no longer claim the minor on their federal and state income tax returns.
- The minor must document that they are independently able to meet all financial obligations without any financial help from any other individual.
Examples of Financial Obligations May Include:
- Tuition and fees
- Rent and food
- Medical expenses, including health insurance
- Vehicle expenses, including automobile insurance
If you are granted Colorado residency as an emancipated minor, you must continue independently to meet all your financial obligations, including the cost of education, without financial assistance from your parents or any other individual.
Court-Appointed Legal Guardian
A student may qualify for Colorado residency based on the domicile of their court-appointed legal guardian if the guardianship has been in effect for at least one year. The legal guardian must provide court documents certifying that the primary purpose of the appointment is other than to qualify the student for Colorado residency. The court must also certify that the student’s parents do not provide financial support.
For Any Forms or Questions, Contact our Tuition Classification Officer:
Qualifying Active-Duty Armed Forces Include:
- United States Army
- United States Navy
- United States Air Force
- United States Marine Corps
- United States Coast Guard
- United States Public Health Service
- United States NOAA Corps
- Members of the Canadian Military stationed in Colorado
Active-Duty Military Members Stationed in Colorado
- Active-duty members of the armed forces of the United States and Canada on a duty station in Colorado and their dependents (as defined by military regulations) are eligible for in-state tuition exception, regardless of Colorado domicile or length of residence in Colorado. The military member must have active-duty status and report to a duty station in Colorado. This must be certified by their military commander by the first day of the first semester the student attends Western. Active-duty military on TDY duty in Colorado are not eligible for the College Opportunity Fund. To request in-state tuition exception, the Military Tuition Adjustment Request Form must be completed and submitted no earlier than 30 days prior to the first day of classes and no later than the first day of classes.
- If the parent was active-duty status in Colorado at any time during the student’s senior year at a Colorado high school and has been transferred out of Colorado, the student may be eligible for in-state tuition exception. To be eligible, the student must enroll at Western within 12 months of high school graduation and not have attended college outside of Colorado during that 12 months. To request in-state tuition exception, the parent who was active-duty must complete and submit the Military Tuition Adjustment Request Form no earlier than 30 days prior to the first day of classes and no later than the first day of classes.
- Military dependents granted in-state tuition exception who maintain continuous enrollment at Western can continue to receive in-state tuition exception even if the military member transfers out of Colorado.
- If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships based on being a non-resident.
- If the parent was active-duty status and their dependent child completed at least two years of high school in Colorado (high school to be defined as freshman, sophomore, junior or senior year) but did not graduate from a Colorado high school, is a legal resident of the U.S. and enrolled in a Colorado institution within five years.
Active-Duty Military Members Stationed Outside of Colorado but Domiciled in Colorado Prior to Enlistment
- To retain Colorado domicile during an absence from Colorado due to military orders, military members must maintain Colorado as their legal residence for tax purposes and voter registration.
- A person domiciled in Colorado for one year prior to enlisting in active-duty service who returns permanently to Colorado within six months of discharge from the military is eligible for in-state tuition exception.
- Military members cannot establish domicile in Colorado for tuition purposes while residing elsewhere or while residing in Colorado on a temporary basis.
- If a qualified person (the parent petitioner or emancipated student) is domiciled in Colorado for one year, they are eligible to petition for in-state tuition classification.
- If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships bases on being a non-resident.
Colorado National Guard
- Members of the Colorado National Guard and their dependents qualify for in-state tuition exception if the member maintains his or her sole residence in Colorado. This includes having Colorado state taxes withheld from wages, leasing or owning property in Colorado, and maintaining Colorado vehicle registration, Colorado driver’s license and Colorado voter’s registration.
- If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships bases on being a non-resident.
- All honorably discharged veterans, who show established domicile in Colorado immediately preceding the start of the semester, regardless of length of time, shall be granted in-state tuition exception. The veteran can also petition for this benefit for their spouse and dependent if the veteran established domicile in Colorado. A dependent is an unmarried undergraduate student and under the age of 23 on or before the first day of class.
- All members of the armed forces of the United States on active duty in Colorado or the member’s spouse or dependent shall not lose his or her eligibility for in-state tuition status if the member retires or separates from the military and remains in Colorado.
Veterans and their Dependents
Western is proud to give qualified veteran students and their dependents in-state tuition rates in accordance with Section 702 of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (“Choice Act”). All qualified veterans and their dependents will pay in-state tuition in compliance with this act.
Students using this residency exception will be eligible for the College Opportunity Fund. If you are a financial aid recipient, your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships based on being a non-resident.
Qualified students should complete the Choice Act Tuition Adjustment Form. Contact Financial Aid for a copy of the form. Submit the completed form to the Tuition Classification Officer at the address on the form.
- A veteran who lives in Colorado (regardless of their formal state of residence) who enrolls at Western within three years of discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
- An individual using transferred benefits who lives in Colorado (regardless of their formal state of residence) who enrolls at Western within three years of the transferor’s discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
- An individual using benefits under the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship who lives in Colorado (regardless of their formal state of residence) and enrolls at Western within three years of the service member’s death in the line of duty following a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
A student described above will retain in-state tuition status as long as he/she remains continuously enrolled (other than during regularly scheduled breaks between terms) at Western.
The in-state tuition provisions in Section 702 do apply to those on active duty or to students using transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits from a service member still on active duty as of July 1, 2017.
Colorado Promise Act
Although most of our student veterans and dependents qualify for in-state tuition through the Choice Act, Colorado had previously passed into law the Colorado GI Promise Act. The Colorado GI Promise Act allows honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces (and their dependents) who have established domicile in Colorado to qualify for resident tuition regardless of length of domicile in Colorado. Note that the Promise Act does require that the veteran be in the process of establishing domicile to be eligible for this benefit. The veteran is expected to complete the normal process of establishing Colorado residency during the first year of domicile in Colorado.
If you are a veteran or dependent not eligible under the federal Choice Act and believe you may be eligible through the Colorado Promise Act, complete the Colorado Promise Act Tuition Adjustment Form. Contact Financial Aid for a copy of the form. Submit the completed form to the Tuition Classification Officer at the address on the form.
Students using this residency exception will be eligible for the College Opportunity Fund. If you are a financial aid recipient, your cost of attendance has been greatly reduced and your financial aid will be adjusted. You will no longer be eligible for scholarships based on being a non-resident.
Under the Colorado American Indian Tribes In-State Tuition Act (effective Fall 2021), a student who would not otherwise qualify for in-state tuition and who is a registered member of one of the federally recognized American Indian tribes with historical ties to Colorado, as designated by the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs in partnership with History Colorado (see list below), is eligible to be classified as an in-state student for tuition purposes.
List of Eligible Tribes:
- Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
- Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
- Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
- Comanche Nation, Oklahoma
- Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
- Crow Tribe
- Eastern Shoshone Tribe (Wind River Reservation)
- Fort Sill Apache Tribe
- The Hopi Tribe
- Jicarilla Apache Nation
- Kewa Pueblo (formerly the Pueblo of Santo Domingo)
- Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
- Mescalero Apache Tribe
- Navajo Nation
- Northern Arapaho Tribe
- Northern Cheyenne Tribe
- Oglala Sioux Tribe
- Ohkay Owingeh (Pueblo of San Juan)
- Osage Nation
- Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
- Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
- Pueblo of Acoma
- Pueblo de Cochiti
- Pueblo of Isleta
- Pueblo of Jemez
- Pueblo of Laguna
- Pueblo of Nambe
- Pueblo of Picuris
- Pueblo of Pojoaque
- Pueblo of San Felipe
- Pueblo of San Ildefonso
- Pueblo of Sandia
- Pueblo of Santa Ana
- Pueblo of Santa Clara
- Pueblo of Taos
- Pueblo of Tesuque
- Pueblo of Zia
- Rosebud Sioux Tribe
- San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe
- Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
- Southern Ute Indian Tribe
- Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
- Three Affiliated Tribes
- Ute Indian Tribe (Uintah & Ouray Reservation)
- Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
- Wichita & Affiliated Tribes
- Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
- Zuni Tribe of the Zuni Reservation
When applying, you’ll be required to upload proof of your registered membership of one of the federally recognized American Indian tribes with historical ties to Colorado. Only two types of documentation are accepted; please submit one of the following:
- A copy of your tribal citizenship card (front and back) or
- A copy of your Certificate of Indian Blood (CDIB), which must contain a tribal seal or be on tribal letterhead, and must include your official identification number (e.g., census number, tribal citizenship number, enrollment number, certified tribal council number).
Contact the Financial Aid office to apply.
If approved, you will be:
Immigrant or Resident Aliens
- Individuals who are lawful permanent residents or refugees are eligible to establish domicile for Colorado residency.
- Individuals who have received their Resident Alien Card are eligible to establish domicile for Colorado residency.
- Individuals who have not yet received their Resident Alien Card, but have filed the Application for Adjustment of Status, are eligible to establish domicile for Colorado residency. In these cases, the date of this application will be used as the date the petitioner was legally able to establish domicile in Colorado.
- Individuals classified as non-immigrant aliens by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services typically cannot establish domicile for residency purposes unless they are in Colorado for purposes other than education.
- Visa-holders in the following categories are not eligible to establish Colorado domicile for residency purposes: F-1, F-2, H-3, M-1, M-2.
- Visa-holders in the following categories are not eligible to establish Colorado domicile for residency purposes if the visa-holder is in Colorado primarily to learn: H-4, J-1, J-2.
- All other categories of visa holders may be eligible to establish Colorado domicile for residency purposes. Contact Financial Aid for more information.
Steps in the Petitioning Process
- Complete the Petition for In-State Tuition Classification and attach all required documentation. The burden of proof to provide clear and convincing evidence of eligibility for Colorado residency is on the petitioner.
- We recommend you submit your completed petition by the Early Decision Deadline to Submit Petition. Petitions must be submitted no later than the final submission date.
- Turn in or mail petitions to:
Taylor Hall 314
Western Colorado University
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231
All petitions must be received by the Final Submission Deadline
- Petitions may also be faxed to 970.943.3086
- Completed petitions that include all required documentation will be reviewed within 2-4 weeks.
- You will receive your decision by mail.
- To avoid late payment charges, continue to pay the amount due on your university student account by the due dates. If you are determined to be a Colorado resident, your non-resident tuition/fees will be adjusted to the Colorado resident rate. You will be reimbursed if you paid more tuition/fees than are due as a resident.
Any student who provides false information to avoid paying non-resident tuition may be subject to legal and/or disciplinary action.
Petition Review and Decision Process
Completed petitions that include all required documentation will be reviewed and petitioners will be notified of the decision by mail within 2-4 weeks after the completed petition is submitted. If additional information is required, the additional information must be submitted within 15 business days of the request unless special arrangements are made with the Tuition Classification Officer. You may email residency questions to Financial Aid at email@example.com or call 970.943.3085.
Decisions made by the Tuition Classification Officer may be appealed to the university’s Residency Appeals Committee. Petitioners who want to appeal the decision must contact Financial Aid no later than two weeks (10 business days) after the date the denial letter was mailed to the petitioner. The decision of the Residency Appeals Committee is the final university determination for that semester.
Submit completed petitions to Financial Aid no later than the published deadline date for the semester for which you are petitioning.
Petitions will not be accepted after the published deadline date. Incomplete petitions will not be accepted and/or reviewed, and your tuition classification and tuition assessment will remain non-resident for that term. Residency statutes do not permit retroactive tuition re-classification.
Petition Deadlines for Students Admitted to a Degree Program
|Semester||Domicile Qualifying Date||Earliest Submission Date||Early Decision Deadline||Final Submission Date|
|Summer 2021||May 10, 2020||March 10, 2021||April 10, 2021||May 10, 2021|
|Fall 2021||August 23, 2020||June 23, 2021||July 23, 2021||August 23, 2021|
|Spring 2022||January 10, 2020||November 10, 2021||December 10, 2021||January 10, 2022|
|Summer 2022||May 9, 2021||March 9, 2022||April 9, 2022||May 9, 2022|