Residency Requirements

California state law requires that each student enrolled in or applying for admission to a California community college provide information and evidence to determine his/her residence classification for tuition purposes. The guidelines below will help you determine if you are a California resident for purposes of attending a California community college.

Residents of California are entitled to attend a community college by paying the community college enrollment fee. Nonresidents must pay the enrollment fee plus nonresident tuition.

To qualify as a resident, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be physically present in California for at least one year and one day prior to the first day of the semester.
  2. Show documentation of intent to establish California residency dating at least one year and one day prior to the first day of the semester to present.
  3. Not be precluded from establishing residency by provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  4. Financial independence: If you were classified as non-resident in a prior semester, and are under 25 years of age before the first day of the semester, then you  must establish financial independence from a non-resident parent or guardian.

NOTE: If you are under 19 years of age, residency is derived from your parent or legal guardian.

Residency Determination

The College will make final determination of residency, but the burden of proof is on the student to demonstrate clearly, with proof, both physical presence in California and intent to establish California residence. Generally, intent cannot be proved with only one or two pieces of evidence. The more evidence you can present to show intent, the easier it is to become a California resident for tuition purposes. A person begins to establish intent by doing as many of the above mentioned actions AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after their arrival in California.

All immigration documentation and proof of California residency must be submitted to the Admissions and Records Office PRIOR to the start of the semester of attendance.

A person’s presence in California and the factors below are considered in determining California residency:

  • State and federal tax returns
  • W-2 forms
  • Automobile registration
  • California driver's license/California ID card
  • Voter registration
  • Military personnel: active duty
  • Bank account statements
  • California license for professional practice/membership in California organizations
  • Petitioner for divorce in California
  • Utility bills
  • Proof of employment (pay stubs)
  • Mortgage statements
  • Lease documents
  • Verification of public assistance
  • California issued professional license

Please note, No one factor automatically determines residency.

Financial Independence

A student seeking reclassification from nonresident to resident status who is under 25 years of age before the first day of the semester must show financial independence from their nonresident parent(s) or guardian(s) according to guidelines set forth by the State of California. In order to establish financial independence, a student seeking reclassification must show the extent to which they have met the following criteria for the current and each of the immediately preceding three calendar years:

  1. The student has not been claimed as an exemption for state and federal tax purposes by his or her nonresident parents;
  2. The student has not received more than $750 from his or her nonresident parents; and
  3. The student has not lived in the home of his or her nonresident parents for more than six weeks in any given year.

Failure to satisfy all the financial independence criteria for the entire period will not necessarily result in classification as a nonresident if the showing of one year’s presence and intent is sufficiently strong. However, failure to satisfy all three financial independence criteria for the current and immediately preceding calendar years will normally result in classification as a nonresident, since financial independence is of greater significance for those years.

Financial independence, or want of it, for the second and third calendar years immediately preceding the year in which reclassification is requested will be considered together with all other relevant factors in determining intent.

Evidence of financial independence may be presented in the form of (1) affidavits signed by student and parent indicating the extent to which the three criteria listed above have been met, and (2) copies of the federal and state income tax returns filed by student and/or parent for the current and any applicable preceding calendar years.

Residency Changes

Residency changes are not automatic. Students whose residency status changes during their enrollment at Mendocino College must complete a Residency Reclassification Request Form prior to being considered California residents.

California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption (AB540/SB68)

California law (AB540/SB 68) provides for students who meet the criteria to be considered as residents for tuition purposes. This applies to students who may be an without a current immigration status, as well as to students who have moved out of state and subsequently returned to California. Students must have attended a California high school for three or more years and have graduated from such high school or have attained the equivalent, such as a High School Equivalency Certificate (GED) or Certificate of Proficiency (CHSPE).  Please review the California Nonresident Tuition Exemption Form for more information.

Seasonal Agricultural Worker or Child of A Seasonal Agricultural Worker

Seasonal employment in connection with actual production of agricultural crops, including seeding, thinning and harvesting.) If you or, if you are under 19 years old before the first day of the semester, your parent, earns a livelihood by performing agricultural labor for hire, please provide a completed Seasonal Agricultural Employment Verification Form.

Special Exemptions

Several exceptions to the residency rules apply per Education Code. 

If you are requesting one of the following special exceptions, please submit the required supporting documentation listed next to the exception AND a Residence Questionnaire. You must be a U.S. Citizen or have an INS classification that is eligible to establish residence in CA in order to qualify for the following special exceptions:

Public School Employee with a Valid Credential or Emergency Permit: If you hold a valid credential authorizing service in the CA public schools, are employed by a school district in a full-time position, and are enrolling in Mendocino College to fulfill credential requirements, please provide the following: 1) A statement from your employer showing that you are employed in a full-time position requiring certification qualifications. AND 2) A copy of your credential. AND 3) Proof of enrollment in courses necessary to fulfill credential requirements.  

Full-Time employee of a CA State Agency Assigned to Work Outside CA (or Child of Spouse of Such Employee): If you, your parent or spouse is a full-time employee of a CA state agency and assigned to work outside CA, please provide the following: 1) Evidence of such employment. AND 2) Evidence of the out-of-state assignment. AND 3) If you are the spouse or child of such an employee, evidence of your qualifying relationship.

Military Veterans and Dependents: Students actively using Chapter 30, Chapter 31, Chapter 33, or Chapter 35 educational benefits are exempt from paying nonresident tuition regardless of when the Veteran separated from the military.  If you are deemed a non-resident at the time of admission, please complete the Residence Questionnaire and submit proof of current California residence and your Certificate of Eligibility to the Admissions and Records Office.