Grad Policies: California Residency

Every entering student is classified as a resident or nonresident of California for tuition purposes.

Many California nonresident graduate students, with the exception of international students,  can be re-classified as residents after one year of graduate school, an action that exempts them from paying nonresident tuition. All non-resident students eligible to establish California residency (e.g., U.S. citizens and permanent residents) are expected to establish residency after their first year. Students who do not wish to establish residency in California, or who were not eligible for California residency, because they failed to perform the steps to establish residency, will be responsible for paying their own Non Resident Tuition after their first year.

To be classified as a California resident, you should meet the following general requirements:

  1. Continuous presence. You must have established your residence in California for the 366 days immediately prior to the residency determination date (the first day of classes of the semester for which you wish to be classified as a resident). Your physical presence in California must be demonstrated on a weekly basis. You are presumed to be present in the state of California during the academic periods you attend UC Berkeley. You should keep all dated material that proves your presence in the state, including:
    • airline tickets
    • paycheck stubs from work
    • credit card receipts
    • bank and credit card statements showing ATM, credit card, and debit card activity (the credit card receipts need not be signature copies)

    Please note that the above items are primary indicators of physical presence and will be weighed heavily in determining your status. Items such as copies of lease agreements, rent, or utility checks are much lesser indicators of physical presence and are not acceptable alone. Your intent will be questioned if you leave California for more than 6 weeks during the period in which you are establishing resident status for tuition purposes. Graduate students doing research outside California for more than 6 weeks during nonacademic periods should visit the Residence Affairs Office (39 Sproul Hall) to seek advice prior to leaving and filing for classification.

  2. Intent to make California your permanent residence must be established for one full year immediately before the residency determination date. You must show proof of your intent by doing such things as:
    • registering and voting in California elections
    • obtaining a California driver's license or identification card
    • filing California resident tax forms
    • establishing California bank accounts, remaining in California during nonacademic periods, etc.
    • severing the foregoing legal ties with your home state

    Evidence of intent must be dated through one year before the term for which you seek resident classification. If these steps are delayed, the one-year duration period will be extended until you have demonstrated both presence and intent for one full year. (See also  Nonresident Tuition.)

  3. Financial independence. You are presumed by law to be financially independent if you are at least 24 years of age by December 31 of the year for which you request resident classification. If your parents are not California residents, you must show evidence that you have been financially independent during the calendar year January-December immediately preceding the semester for which you wish to claim resident status and for the current calendar year. Any out-of-state student who is claimed as a dependent on someone else's income tax returns will continue to be classified as a nonresident. Graduate Student Instructors and Graduate Student Researchers appointed for a minimum of 48 percent time (or awarded the equivalent in University-administered funds, e.g. , grants, stipends, fellowships) for the semester for which they wish to be classified as a resident are exempt from meeting the financial independence criterion.

More detailed information on establishing residency and documenting financial independence is available online at UC Berkeley's Office of the Registrar's website.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you cannot be classified as a California resident unless you are a permanent resident of the U. S. or are in the process of adjusting your status to permanent resident (you must be in a valid immigration status during the entire adjustment process). International students with F-1 or J-1 visas must pay nonresident tuition during their entire graduate careers. Doctoral candidates, however, may be eligible for a 100% waiver of nonresident tuition for three years after their advancement to candidacy.

Note: This summary is not a complete explanation of the law regarding California residence.  Please note that changes may be made in the residency requirements, and we will do our very best to keep you apprised of any changes.