Office of the Registrar
Bouillon Hall 140
Phone: (509) 963-3001
Fax: (509) 963-1230

Residency FAQs

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about residency applications, applying for residency, DACA, and many other topics. Questions? Please contact the Residency Coordinator.

  • What classifies me as a financially "dependent" or independent" student?

    Dependent students

    Dependent students are defined as individuals who are financially reliant and claimed on their parent’s/legal guardian’s latest tax returns. Financially dependent student’s residency will be on the bonafide domicile documentation provided by the parents/legal guardians, not the student. Note: Married students are not considered to be financially dependent when applying for residency. See the Financial Dependency Status page for more information.

    Independent students

    Independent students are defined as individuals who are not financially reliant and/or claimed on their parent’s/legal guardian’s latest tax returns. The burden of proof for residency will be on the students.

    To prove financial independence, students must show they are financially covering at least 51% of their total expenses during the current and previous calendar year.

    • “Current calendar year” is defined as the year, up to the month, that students are applying for residency. An example for “current calendar year” is if a student is applying for residency effective Fall Quarter 2020, they are responsible for showing proof of financial independence from September 2019 to September 2020.
    • Total expense is determined by combining the non-resident tuition rate and living costs.
    • Student’s income may include their own employment earnings, financial aid, loans, and scholarships authorized by the Financial Aid Office, grants, etc. Financial sources must show the student as the primary account holder. Parents are allowed to be secondary account holders/co-signers.
    • Personal loans (promissory note), PLUS loans, checking and savings accounts, gifts, and cash earnings cannot be counted as income in this calculation. Receipt of the Federal Parent PLUS loan will contradict financial independent status.
    • Trust funds such as college funds (GET, 529 plan, etc.) may be factored toward a student’s financial independence. These fund accounts are only valid if it was established before the student’s 10th grade of high school. Students will need to provide documentation indicating date of establishment and transaction activities showing funds used toward paying for their tuition.

    Students who are married or 25 years of age or older, please reference Financially Independent Student page.

  • Do I have to be employed if I am attending school full-time in order to obtain residency? If so, how many hours?

    Students who attend school immediately upon arriving to Washington and take 7 credits or more per quarter are required to be employed to overcome the presumption that they are in Washington for educational purposes. Students must work, at least 30 hours per week, at a non-student position, for the duration they are attending above half time.
    Students will need to provide documentation indicating hours worked such as pay-stubs or letter on an official letterhead from the employer verifying hours worked per week.

    There are 3 options available for students regarding the fulfillment of employment:

    1. Attend school immediately upon arriving to WA, enroll in half-time status (7 credits or more) for the entire school year, obtain all WA legal ties, and work at least 30 hours per week during the year of establishing Washington residency.

    2. Attend school immediately upon arriving to WA, enroll in part-time status (6 credits or less) for the entire school year, and obtain all WA legal ties. Students are not required to prove hours of employment.

    3. Not attend school for the first year to establish their residency. See Residency Requirements for details.

  • What are "legal ties" and how long do they need to be in place for?

    Legal ties consist of a driver’s license or Washington identification card, vehicle registration, voter registration, bank account, and rental agreement/lease/mortgage statement/home ownership. Legal ties must have been established for at least one year prior to the first day of the quarter students apply for residency.

    • Do I need all of the legal ties switched to Washington? All legal ties must be established in Washington, especially if there are existing, valid legal ties in the former state/country of residence.
    • When do I need to establish my legal ties? By law, all Washington legal ties must be established within the first 30 days of arrival.
    • If I do not own/use a vehicle, do I need a vehicle registration? If students do not own or use a vehicle in Washington, it is not required to provide this documentation.
    • If I never registered to vote in my former state, do I need to register in Washington? Students do not need to register to vote if they never registered in any other state.
    • I registered to vote but never received my voter registration card. What do I provide? Students can visit VoteWA and print the web registration.
  • When is the deadline to submit residency applications and documentation?

    The deadline for the initial residence questionnaire application is the 30th day after the quarter begins. After the residence questionnaire application has been processed, our office may request additional documentation.

    Additional documentation may be submitted after the deadline. However, documentation received after the last day of the quarter will transfer the residence questionnaire application to the next quarter for review.

  • Is there a minimum number of credits I have to take in order to apply for residency?

    There are no credit requirements that students must meet to apply for residency. Students are allowed to take as few or as many credits per quarter as they like. The only factor is if they register for 7 credits or more per quarter, students are required to fulfill the employment requirements for residency. This means they must work at least 30 hours per week, at a non-student position, to overcome the presumption they are in Washington primarily for school. If students register for 6 credits or less per quarter, they do not need to provide hours of employment; however, they are still responsible for all the other requirements listed under Residency Requirements.

  • What should I do if my residence classification is not determined by the tuition deadline?

    If the residency status change determination is pending at the time that the student’s tuition is due the student is responsible for paying non-resident tuition and fees. Failure to pay the tuition will result in additional late payment fees. If residency is granted, the university will reimburse the tuition differential. The student will be responsible for any applicable late payment fees.

    To inquire about the reimbursement process, please directly contact the Cashier’s Office at or 509-963-2224.

  • What is the procedure once I submit my residence questionnaire application for the change in residency?

    Once the application is received and reviewed, our office will contact the student via CWU email or phone for additional information, questions, or general updates on the application status. If there are general questions regarding the residence questionnaire itself, we can help clarify. Students will receive a confirmation letter of the residency status from our office once the decision is made.

    Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), all communication from our office regarding the application status will be directed to the student. Students may forward communications to authorized individuals, if they wish.

  • I am currently receiving financial aid, what happens with my aid if I am approved residency?

    Once residency is approved, the change in status from non-resident to resident is immediately reflected. It is suggested that students should directly contact Student Financial Services in regard to the changed status. For questions regarding any financial aid adjustments, eligibility, and/or awarding, please contact their office at or 509-963-1611.

  • Housing related questions:

    Does living in CWU affiliated housing, such as a residence hall, affect my residency?

    Students are allowed to live anywhere (residence halls, student housing, house/apartment, or with family) as long as their place of residence is in Washington.

    Is proof of a lease/home agreement, such as ledgers or mortgage payments, enough to prove physical presence?

    Leases/home agreements do not prove physical presence. Essentially, one can have property and make monthly payments, but not be physically present in Washington.

    Does having a lease/home agreement, etc., make me a resident?

    Having a lease/home agreement or property, in general, does not automatically classify an individual as a resident. Individuals are still responsible for proving they have established all other residency requirements.

  • Who qualifies for the Military Exemption? Which military branches are included in this exemption?

    To be eligible for the Military Exemption, students must be active duty members or dependents of an active duty member (stationed in Washington) of the following qualified branches of military: U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, and Coast Guard. Unfortunately, Reservists do not qualify for the exemption. See Current/Former Military Personnel and families for more information.

  • I am a veteran and not a Washington resident, do I qualify for residency under the ESSB 5355 Choice Act?

    Veterans who were honorably discharged and served at least 90 days of active duty service are eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees if they attend an institution of higher education within 3 years of discharge (regardless of his/her formal state of residence). Veteran students must meet the conditions listed under Resident Tuition for Veterans and Eligible Individuals to qualify.

    • Active Duty is defined in the Choice Act as full-time duty, other than active duty for training, as a member of the uniformed service of the United States. Active duty service as a national guard member under Title 32 U.S.C. for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training and active service under 32 U.S.C. Sec. 502(f) for the purpose of responding to a national emergency is recognized as active duty service.
    • Uniformed Service defined by Title 10 U.S.C. consists of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps.
    • Spouse/child using transferred benefits are eligible to pay in-state tuition and fees if the transferor meets the terms defined in the Choice Act. Reference Covered Individuals.
    • This eligibility does not apply to current active duty service members and their dependents.
    • What is a Certificate of Eligibility? The Certificate of Eligibility verifies the student’s eligibility for VA educational benefits. Review this example of a Certificate of Eligibility.
    • School starts after my third year of discharge; will I still qualify under the Choice Act? Unfortunately, students must enter an institution of higher education in Washington before the three-year period is over. “Enter” refers to the first day of the term, not the admissions application date.
  • Can a student obtain residency if they are not a U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident, DACA status approved, or qualifying visa holder? If so, how?

    Students who do not meet the qualifying classification status may be able to obtain residency/in-state tuition through the Washington Higher Education Residency Affidavit (RCW 28B.15.012(e)). To qualify, students must obtain a high school diploma, or its equivalent, and have lived in Washington for at least one calendar year (12 months) immediately prior to their first term at the college determining residency.

  • I have DACA status, can I apply for residency?

    DACA students are eligible to apply for residency, for purposes of tuition and fees only, as long as they fulfill the residency requirements. See Residency Requirements and Eligible Non-Citizens for additional details.

  • How can I prove my DACA status?

    DACA students will need to provide the I-797 notice from USCIS verifying the approval of DACA status (I-821D). Employment Authorization Cards (EAC) are also acceptable.

  • Do dependents of H, E, and L visa holders qualify for residency?

    Spouses/dependents of H, E, and L visa holders are eligible to apply for residency, for tuition and fees purposes only, as long as they are able to prove that they have fulfilled the residency requirements. See Qualifying Visas for additional details.

  • Does a Washington resident retain their resident status if they attend school outside of the state?

    Students are able to maintain their resident status as long as they prove that the absence was due to educational purposes. This means students need to prove all of the following conditions:

    1. They were continuously enrolled at the college/university for the duration they were absent from Washington,

    2. They paid non-resident tuition at the out-of-state college/university (if students attended a private school/university, they need to provide a certificate of enrollment verifying continuous enrollment),

    3. They did not surrender any of their Washington legal ties by establishing ties in the state they were attending school. This includes driver’s license, vehicle registration, etc. See Residency Requirements for a detailed list of legal ties.

    See Absent Washington Residents and American Indian Students for additional details.

  • How does the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) waiver program effect my residency?

    Students who participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program may not establish Washington State residency while receiving this waiver. Time accrued while receiving a WUE waiver will not count toward the length of time required to establish Washington State residency status, as the WUE is based upon the student being a resident of one of the participating states. Please contact for more information regarding WUE.

For more information, email the Residency Coordinator.