Written by attorney Dean John Hanewinckel

Qualifying For Florida In-State Tuition

Part of the planning that students looking to attend college in Florida should be doing is becoming a resident of Florida for tuition purposes. In-state tuition at a Florida public university or community college can save a student thousands of dollars in obtaining a degree. Additionally, students who wish to qualify for state financial aid programs such as Bright Futures must be residents.

Florida residence for tuition purposes is not the same as being a Florida resident for other purposes. It takes more than just intent.

Section 1009.21 of the Florida Statutes outlines the requirements for establishing residency for tuition purposes. The specific requirements are contained in rules adopted by the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors for the State University System.

To qualify as a Florida resident for tuition purposes, the student must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and must have established physical and legal residence in Florida for at least 12 months prior to the first day of classes.

Living in or attending school in Florida will not, by itself, establish legal residence for tuition purposes. The 12 month qualifying period must be for the purpose of maintaining a bonafide domicile. The student who comes to Florida to enroll full-time in a Florida school as an out-of-state resident and continuously enrolls in a Florida school will not normally meet the residency requirement. The student must be able to show that her presence and activities in Florida during the 12 month period are not primarily student related.

Students who depend on out-of-state parents for financial support ("Dependent Students") are presumed to be residents of the same state as their parents. These students usually cannot be Florida residents for tuition purposes. However, if the student who depends on her out-of-state parents for support has lived in Florida for 5 consecutive years prior to enrolling at a Florida college, she may be able to qualify as a Florida resident for tuition purposes.

Even if you do not meet the 12 month requirement, you still may qualify for an exception. You may be able to be classified as a "temporary resident" for tuition purposes. These exceptions are:

  1. Dependent children residing continuously for at least 5 years with an adult relative other than the parent who is a resident of Florida.
  2. Persons married to legal residents of Florida and who intend to make Florida their permanent home and who relinquish all legal ties to any other state. This means they cannot have an out-of-state drivers license or voter registration.
  3. Persons who were enrolled as Florida residents for tuition purposes at a Florida public college, but who abandon Florida residency, can re-enroll in Florida within 12 months of the abandonment provided she continuously maintains her Florida residency while enrolled. This exception can only be used one time.
  4. Active duty members of the United State Armed Services or Florida National Guard residing or stationed in Florida. Also, an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Services stationed outside of Florida and the spouses and dependent children can attend a public Florida college located within 50 miles of the military establishment where they are stationed, if the military establishment is located within a county bordering Florida.
  5. Full time teachers and administrators of the State of Florida public school system.

A full list of the exceptions can be found in Section 1009.21 of the Florida Statutes.

Additional resources provided by the author

Chapter 1009, Florida Statutes

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