501  Residency Classification

Approved by Board of Trustees
Effective Date:  August 15, 2019
Responsible Division: Student Affairs
Responsible Office:  Enrollment Services
Responsible Officer: AVP Enrollment Services

I. Purpose 

It is the intent of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) that uniform criteria shall apply in determining whether students shall be classified in-state or out-of-state for tuition and fee purposes and for admission purposes. This policy provides the criteria that will be utilized in making classification determinations.

II. Determination of Status

A.  Students and applicants with a domicile in Tennessee are to be classified in-state for tuition and fee purposes and for admission purposes. Domicile is a person's true, fixed, and permanent home and place of habitation; it is the place where he/she intends to remain, and to which he/she expects to return when he/she leaves MTSU without intending to establish a new domicile elsewhere.

1.  Persons eligible to establish domicile include U.S. citizens; valid/unexpired permanent residents; asylees/refugees; and those with certain visa types, including A1 – A3; E1, E2; G1 – G5; H1B, H4; I; K1 – K4; L1, L1a, L1b, L2; NATO 1 – NATO 7; O1, O3 (dependents of O1 only); P1 – P4; R1, R2; T1 – T4; and V.

2.  Persons not eligible to establish domicile include persons who have not met requirements of the Eligibility Verification for Entitlement Act (EVEA); undocumented persons, regardless of length of residence in Tennessee; persons on Deferred Action (DACA/Dream Act), and those with certain visa types, including B1, B2; C1 – C3; D1; F1, F2; H1C, H2A, H2B, H3; J1, J2; M1, M2; N; O2, O3 (dependents of O2); Q1 – Q3; S5 – S7; TC, TN, TD; and U1 – U5.

B.  Absence from Tennessee for short periods of time will not affect the establishment of a residence, provided domicile was not established in another state during that time.

C.  Students and applicants not having domicile in Tennessee shall be classified out-of-state.

D.  The domicile of an unemancipated person is that of his/her parent, except as provided in Section II.E. of this policy. Students who are unemancipated must submit parent, legal guardian, or foster parent documentation in lieu of their own. An emancipated person is one who has attained the age of eighteen (18) years, and whose parents have entirely legally surrendered the right to the care, custody, and earnings of such person and who no longer are under any legal obligation to support or maintain such deemed emancipated person.

E.  Unemancipated students of divorced parents shall be classified in-state when one (1) parent, regardless of custodial status, is domiciled in Tennessee.

F.  A student is classified in-state for tuition and fee purposes if the student is a citizen of the U.S. and has resided in Tennessee for at least one (1) year immediately prior to admission and meets one (1) of the following:

1.  Graduated from a Tennessee public secondary school;

2.  Graduated from a private secondary school that is located in Tennessee; or

3.  Earned a Tennessee high school equivalency diploma.

G.  The spouse of a student classified as in-state will also be classified as in-state.

H.  Regular full-time employees at institutions governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) or a Locally Governed Institution (LGI), along with their spouses and children shall be classified as in-state students for purposes of fees and tuition when enrolled in courses at any TBR institution or LGI.

I.  Graduate assistants at MTSU shall be classified as in-state for purposes of fees and tuition.

J. Continuous enrollment at MTSU is defined as enrollment in at least one (1) course in successive Fall or Spring terms during the student's enrollment.

III. Out-of-State Students who are Not Required to Pay Out-of-State Tuition

A.  An unemancipated, currently enrolled student will be reclassified as out-of-state should his/her parent move out of the state of Tennessee. However, the student will not be required to pay out-of-state tuition nor be treated as an out-of-state student for admission purposes so long as he/she is continuously enrolled at MTSU.

B.  The waiver of out-of-state tuition granted to a student will follow the student from a Tennessee public community college to MTSU if the student transfers from the community college without a break in enrollment after successfully completing an associate's degree or if participating in a reverse transfer program.

C.  Students who participate in a study abroad program, when the course(s) in the study abroad program is/are the only course(s) for which the student is registered during that entire term are not required to pay out-of-state tuition.

D.  Dependent children who qualify and are selected to receive a scholarship because their parent is a law enforcement officer, fireman, or emergency medical service technician who was killed or totally and permanently disabled while performing duties within the scope of their employment are not required to pay out-of-state tuition. T.C.A. § 49-4-704.

E.  Military veterans who have a Tennessee address in Box 19A on their DD214 (mailing address after separation) will be charged in-state tuition and fees.

F.  A veteran or dependents eligible to receive educational benefits (to include the David Fry Scholarship) administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, through any provision of the United States Code, shall not be required to pay out-of-state tuition and fees when the veteran or eligible dependent is:

1.  Enrolled at MTSU;

2.  Utilizing such benefits at MTSU; and

3.  Living in the state of Tennessee, regardless of the individual’s formal state of residency.

If VA benefits run out/expire prior to graduation, a student can continue to qualify for in-state tuition and fees until completion of that degree, if he/she:

a.  Maintains continuous enrollment (Fall and Spring terms); and

b.  Demonstrates objective evidence of established residency in the state of Tennessee by presenting three (3) of the following:

(1)  A Tennessee driver’s license, issued for at least one (1) year;

(2)  A Tennessee Identification Card, issued for at least one (1) year;

(3)  Proof of a Tennessee voter’s registration;

(4)  A Tennessee motor vehicle registration;

(5)  Proof of established employment in Tennessee;

(6)  Residential lease or mortgage.

Further, if the veteran or eligible dependent wishes to become a permanent resident, he/she can follow Steps a. and b. above and be recoded as an in-state resident.

G.  Individuals who join the Tennessee National Guard (active member) will be charged in-state tuition and fees.

H.  Military service members on active-duty orders who are stationed outside of the state of Tennessee but still maintain a Tennessee domicile will be charged in-state tuition and fees.

I.  An unemancipated person or spouse of an active-duty military member who is stationed outside of Tennessee but whose home of record is Tennessee, will be charged in-state tuition and fees (must show proof of domicile, including, but not limited to, driver’s license, voter’s registration, LES, tax document).

J.  An unemancipated person whose parent is not domiciled in Tennessee but is a member of the armed forces and stationed in Tennessee or at Fort Campbell, Kentucky pursuant to military orders will be classified out-of-state but shall not be required to pay out-of-state tuition. Such a person, while in continuous attendance toward the degree for which he/she is currently enrolled, will not be required to pay out-of-state tuition if his/her parent is transferred on military orders.

K.  Active-duty military personnel who begin working on a college degree at MTSU while stationed in Tennessee or at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and who are transferred or deployed prior to completing their degree, can continue to completion of the degree at MTSU without being required to pay out-of-state tuition, as long as he/she completes at least one (1) course for credit each twelve (12)-month period after the transfer or deployment. Exceptions may be made in cases where the service member is deployed to an area of armed conflict for periods exceeding twelve (12) months.

L.  Military personnel and their spouses stationed in Tennessee or at Fort Campbell, Kentucky who would be classified out-of-state in accordance with other provisions of this policy will be classified out-of-state but will not be required to pay out-of-state tuition. This does not apply to military personnel and their spouses who are stationed in Tennessee primarily for educational purposes.

M.  Pursuant to T.C.A. § 49-7-164, MTSU shall charge a dependent child under twenty-three (23) years of age, whose military parent dies as a result of a targeted attack that occurred in Tennessee, in-state tuition and fees regardless of the dependent child’s domicile or place of residence during the dependent child’s enrollment at MTSU, provided the dependent child has met and continues to meet all stated statutory requirements.

N.  Part-time students who are not domiciled in Tennessee but who are employed full-time in Tennessee, or who are stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky pursuant to military orders, shall be classified out-of-state but shall not be required to pay out-of-state tuition. This shall apply to part-time students who are employed in Tennessee by more than one (1) employer, resulting in the equivalent of full-time employment. Full-time employment is defined as working either one (1) job at a minimum of thirty-two (32) hours per week or more than one (1) part-time job to total an average of thirty-two (32) hours per week.

O.  Presumption. No person shall qualify for in-state fees if he/she came to Tennessee for the primary purpose of attending college. For example, if an individual moved to Tennessee and immediately enrolled at MTSU, another university, college, or community college as a full-time student, that person is presumed to have moved to Tennessee for the primary purpose of attending college and will not be eligible for in-state fees. The presumption is that a student cannot acquire domicile in Tennessee while enrolled as a full-time student.

P.  Evidence to be Considered for Establishment of Domicile. If a person asserts that he/she has established domicile in Tennessee, he/she has the burden of proving that he/she has done so. MTSU will consider any and all evidence provided concerning such claim of domicile. Generally, persons attempting to prove domicile should be prepared to offer multiple items of evidence including, but not limited to, proof of residence and/or property ownership within Tennessee; military orders assigning the person to Tennessee; proof of full-time employment within Tennessee; proof of receiving a Tennessee state benefit including, but not limited to, TennCare, TN Disability benefits, or SNAP; proof of current classification as in-state for tuition and fee purposes at another public Tennessee higher education institution; etc.

IV. Appeal Procedure

Individuals may appeal their initial classification of residency status for purposes of tuition and fee payment prior to the census date for the applicable term as specified on the registration calendar for each term according to the following procedure:

A.  Individuals who are initially classified as out-of-state for purposes of tuition and fee payment by personnel in the Admissions Office, the College of Graduate Studies, or the Office of International Admissions, and who wish to appeal this classification, must complete the Application for Tennessee Residency for Fee-Paying Purposes.

1.  Documentation submitted by the individual will be reviewed by the appropriate staff. The individual will be notified of any change in status or other action taken on his/her application. If the individual has an MTSU email account, he/she will be notified through this account. Otherwise, the individual will be notified using the information provided on the application Notice to the individual of MTSU's decision is anticipated to be within five (5) business days, except during periods when a large volume of appeals has been filed, which may require extension of this notification period.

2.  In the event that the individual's application for in-state residency is denied, the individual will be advised to contact the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs or designee to initiate an appeal of the classification.

B.  The Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs or designee will, upon request of the individual and receipt of any additional information required for full consideration, convene the Student Appeals Committee. A representative of the office of original classification in each individual case shall serve as a consultant to the Student Appeals Committee and, upon request, shall provide the basis for the original decision and any other relevant information.

C.  The Student Appeals Committee shall hear such evidence members regard as relevant to a proper review of the individual's residency status and will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Student Affairs either denying the appeal or recommending that the individual be reclassified as in-state for purposes of tuition and fee payment.

D.  The Vice President for Student Affairs will approve, reject, or modify the recommendation of the Student Appeals Committee. Notification to the individual of MTSU's decision is anticipated to be within five (5) business days, except during periods when a large volume of appeals has been filed, which may require extension of this notification period.

E.  The decision of the Vice President for Student Affairs will be final in matters of appeal with regard to residency status for purposes of tuition and fee payment.

V. Effective Date for Reclassification

A.  If a student classified out-of-state applies for in-state classification and is subsequently so classified, his/her in-state classification shall be effective as of the date on which reclassification was sought.

B.  However, out-of-state tuition will be charged for any semester during which reclassification is sought and obtained unless application for reclassification is made to the classification officer on or before the census day of that semester.

VI. Regional Scholars

A.  The MTSU Regional Scholars Program allows select non-Tennessee resident students who live within a specified radius of the MTSU campus, as determined by the Board of Trustees and published on the Regional Scholars website, and who meet specific academic requirements, to attend MTSU at a reduced rate.

B.  Though still classified as out-of-state, students who qualify will receive:

1.  A reduced tuition as determined by MTSU in accordance with approved guidelines.

2.  Consideration for institutional scholarships if admitted by the established scholarship deadlines.

Forms: none.

Revisions: June 5, 2017 (original); December 5, 2017; August 15, 2019.

Last Reviewed: August 2019.

References: Tennessee Higher Education Commission Chapter 1540-1-1 Regulations for Classifying Persons as Tennessee Residents for the Purpose of Participating in Tennessee Higher Education Commission Programs Authority; Eligibility Verification for Entitlement Act; Deferred Action (DACA/Dream Act); T.C.A. §§ 49-4-704, 49-7-164.