Residency for Tuition Purposes

In compliance with state law, the University of North Carolina System requires students to request a residency classification from the centralized Residency Determination Service (RDS). RDS is the entity responsible for all new classifications of residency in North Carolina. As a result, all residency questions and inquiries must be directed to RDS. The contact information for the centralized Residency Determination Service (RDS) is:
844-319-3640 (phone)                  RDS Guidebook
919-835-2427 (fax)

Check out the Student FAQ's on the RDS website for answers to the most asked questions!

Who has to complete RDS?

  • Any new undergraduate or graduate student applying for admission and claiming in-state residency
  • Any current student who is coming back after taking a break of at least one semester (Fall or Spring) who has not completed RDS previously and is claiming in-state residency
  • Any student who has completed RDS previously but whose RCN has expired
  • Any student changing academic levels (i.e. undergraduate to graduate) or seeking a second degree at the same institution and claiming in-state residency
  • Any out-of-state student seeking a reclassification to in-state status
  • Veterans and dependents applying for tuition benefit

To qualify for in-state residency, you must show that you:

  • have established your legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina and have maintained that domicile for at least 12 consecutive months
  • intend to make North Carolina your permanent home indefnitely (rather than being in North Carolina solely to attend college)

What to expect when using RDS

  • Applicants can complete the RDS process before, during, or after completing the admissions application. Any student claiming in-state residency must complete RDS regardless of their length of time in North Carolina.
  • You will only have to complete the process once when applying for admission, no matter how many NC college or university admissions applications you complete. Be sure to record the RCN number you receive after you complete RDS.
  •  You will complete an online questionnaire and may be asked to provide documentation afterward. Required information will include identification numbers, such as you might provide for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is a good idea to have this kind of information easily available at the time you complete the RDS questionnaire. If you do not, RDS will save any confirmed information and allow you to re-enter the questionnaire where you left off.
  • The information that you submit will be validated against federal and North Carolina state agency databases. Please keep a copy of all application materials for your records.
  • Once you have completed RDS, you will receive an initial classification, but it will not be updated by the institution until the validation is complete and the institution receives notification of the official determination, which typically takes 24-48 hours.
  • Additional information about the RDS process is available at

Effective Date
Students claiming in-state residency must complete RDS. In order for your residency determination to affect the tuition rate for the current term at Appalachian State, your RDS determination must have an effective date of no more than 45 calendar days from the first day of classes in the current term for Fall or Spring terms, and no more than 9 calendar days from the start of term for summer terms. RDS determinations received with an effective date after these deadlines will not affect the tuition rate for the current term, but will take effect for the next term.

Reconsideration and Appeals
Students who have been determined as nonresidents by RDS may request a reconsideration and appeal of their determination for tuition purposes through RDS. To request a reconsideration or appeal, go to

Residency for UNC System Employees and Families
Permanent full-time employees of the University of North Carolina who are legal residents of North Carolina qualify as residents for tuition purposes even if they have not maintained legal residency for the required 12 consecutive months prior to residence classification. Spouses and dependent children (using income tax dependency as the standard) of full-time UNC employees who are legal residents also qualify for this benefit. There is no limit on the number or type of courses for which this benefit will apply. UNC System employees or eligible family members wishing to use this benefit are required to submit the Residency for UNC System Employees and Their Families’ form

Residency for Military Affiliated Students
Military Affiliated students who are not eligible for traditional North Carolina Residency may qualify for a residency exception if they meet the requirements outlined in either of the sections below:

Military Service in North Carolina
Under North Carolina General Statute Section (G.S.) 116-143.3 certain members of the armed services and their dependent relatives may be eligible to be charged a tuition rate less than the out-of-state rate whether or not they qualify as residents for tuition purposes under G.S. 116-143.3.  Individuals serving on active duty whose permanent duty station is North Carolina (including their qualifying dependents) or those individuals who are contracted, actively drilling members of the North Carolina National Guard, who do not otherwise qualify for in-state residency, may be charged tuition and fees at the in-state rate.  Students should begin by completing the Residency Determination Process.  If they are assessed a non-resident status by Residency Determination, but meet the provisions for a residency exception, they should submit the following to the institution:


  • Active Duty: Signed and dated letter on PRE-PRINTED MILITARY LETTERHEAD from the appropriate military authority attesting to your current duty status and installation location, OR
  • Dependents of Active Duty: Signed and dated letter on PRE-PRINTED MILITARY LETTERHEAD from the appropriate military authority attesting to your military dependency status and the duty status and location of the service member who you are the spouse of, OR
  • National Guard: Signed copy of your contract with the North Carolina National Guard.

Military Veterans Choice Act
Under North Carolina General Statute Section (G.S.) 116-143.3A, certain veterans and other covered individuals, as defined by 38 USC § 3679, may be eligible to be charged the in-state tuition rate and applicable mandatory fees for enrollment without satisfying the 12-month residency requirement. Any veteran or dependent of a veteran of the Armed Forces eligible for and receiving Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty), Chapter 31 (Veterans Readiness and Employment), or Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 GI Bill®, Transfer of Post 9/11 GI Bill®, or Fry Scholarship), who are living in North Carolina while enrolled at Appalachian State, may qualify for the residency exception.  Beginning with terms starting on or after August 1, 2022, students eligible for and receiving Chapter 35 (Dependents Education Assistance Program) may also qualify. Students are responsible for submitting:

  • Residency Appeal Application: Non-resident Residency Confirmation Number (RCN) from the Residency Determination System
  • Certificate of Eligibility for VA Education Benefits (or Authorization to receive Veterans Readiness and Employment Benefits)
  • Proof of Abode in North Carolina: Documentation must be in the student's name. Documentation can include (but is not limited to) a copy of the student's lease agreement, utility bill, drivers license.