This section of the catalog provides a general summary of the principal rules on residency and their exceptions. For the detailed rules used by the Admissions & Records Office for residency determination, reference should be made to regulations of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges in Sub-Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 54000) of Division 6 of Chapter V of Title 5 of the California Administrative Code, and the regulations and guidelines available at the Admissions and Records Office. These regulations are subject to change without notice by the State Legislature.
Each person applying for admission to a California community college is, for purposes of admission and/or tuition fees, classified as a “California resident" or as a “non-resident” according to the Admission Application completed by the potential student. Students classified as California residents will be subject to pay the stated California resident enrollment fees in effect at the time of admission as stated in the corresponding Schedule of Classes. Students classified as non-residents will be subject to pay non-resident tuition in addition to the stated California resident enrollment fees in effect at the time.
A “California resident” is a person who has resided within California for at least one year and one day prior to the first day of the term of enrollment and can provide documentation of his or her intent to make California their permanent residence.
A “non-resident” student is one who does not have residence in the state for more than one year prior to the residence determination date and cannot provide documentation of intent to make California their permanent residence.
Applicants classified as non-residents will receive notice of their status to the email address provided on the Admission Application.
Students who have been classified as non-residents are not automatically reclassified as residents. It is the responsibility of the student to request reclassification to residency status.
A Residency Questionnaire along with the required documentation must be submitted to the Admissions & Records Office before the start of the term (not the start date of the course) and by the deadline published in the Schedule of Classes to be considered for a residency adjustment. Residency Questionnaires submitted after the start of the term will be considered for the next term.
The Residency Questionnaire must be accompanied by documentation verifying the student’s intent to become a California resident, evidence of physical presence in California, and/or evidence of financial independence. Title 5, sections 54002-54028 and Education Code, section 68040 clearly state that the burden of proof to clearly demonstrate both physical presence in California and intent to establish California residence lies with the student. Failure to provide requested residency information will result in a determination of non-resident.
The Residency Questionnaire Form with complete instructions is available online; log into the MyCOD Student Portal, and under the WebAdvisor button, click on A&R forms. Questions regarding residency should be directed to the Admissions & Records Office at (760) 773-2516.
If you do not have the required documentation the State requires for residency determination by the College, you will need to pay the out-of-state fees due or drop your classes before the term begins so you are not responsible to pay the fees; failure to drop classes before the term begins will result in you paying the non-resident fees. This is a State audited item and fees cannot be changed. NOTE: If you are applying and enrolling during the first week of the term, you are responsible for fees due regardless of residency; it is too late to request or submit a Residency Questionnaire for the term in which you are applying.
Applicants who are not U.S. citizens must provide proof of immigration status.
Applicants who are U.S. citizens but have resided in California for less than two years, much provide proof of:
- Intent of become a California resident
- Physical presence in California
- Financial independence
A student seeking reclassification as a resident, who was classified a non-resident in the preceding term, shall be determined to be financially independent or dependent.
A student who has established financial independence may be classified as a resident if the student has demonstrated clearly physical presence and intent to be a California resident for one year prior to the residence determination date.
In determining whether the student has objectively manifested intent to establish California residence, financial independence shall weigh in favor of finding California residence, and financial dependence shall weigh against finding California residence.
Financial dependence in the current or preceding calendar year shall weigh more heavily against finding California residence than shall financial dependence in earlier calendar years. Financial dependence in the current or preceding calendar year shall be overcome only if (1) the parent on whom the student is dependent is a California resident, or (2) there is no evidence of continuing residence in another state.
A person capable of establishing residence in California must couple his or her physical presence in California with objective evidence that the physical presence is with the intent of making California his or her permanent home. The burden is on the student to demonstrate clearly both physical presence in California and intent to establish California residence. The following explanations will assist in determining physical presence and intent.
A. A person capable of establishing residence in California must be physically present in California for one year prior to the residence determination date to be classified as a resident student.
B. A temporary absence for business, education, or pleasure will not result in loss of California residence if, during the absence, the person always intended to return to California and did nothing inconsistent with that intent.
C. Physical presence within the state solely for educational purpose does not constitute establishing California residence regardless of the length of that presence.
A. Intent to make California home for other than a temporary purpose may be manifested in many ways. No one factor is controlling.
B. A student who is 19 years of age or over and who has maintained a home in California continuously for the last two years shall be presumed to have the intent to make California home for other than a temporary purpose unless the student has evidenced a contrary intent by having engaged in any of the activities listed in subsection (f) of this section.
C. A student who is under 19 years of age shall be presumed to have the intent to make California home for other than a temporary purpose if both the student has evidenced a contrary intent by having engaged in any of the activities listed in subsection (f) of this section.
D. A student who does not meet the requirements of subsection (b) or subsection (c) of this section shall be required to provide evidence of intent to make California home for other than a temporary purpose as specified in subsection (e) of this section.
E. The following factors are considered in determining California residency (a minimum of 3 must be provided):
- Ownership of residential property or continuous occupancy of rented or leased property in California;
- Registering to vote and voting in California;
- Licensing from California for professional practice;
- Presence of spouse, children, or other close relatives in the state;
- Showing California as home address on federal income tax form;
- Payment of California state income tax as a resident;
- Possessing California motor vehicle license plates;
- Possessing a California driver’s license;
- Maintaining a permanent military address or home of record in California while in the armed forces;
- Establishing and maintaining an active California bank account; and/or
- Being the petitioner for a divorce in California.
F. Conduct inconsistent with a claim of California residence includes, but not limited to:
- Maintaining voter registration and voting in another state;
- Being the petitioner for a divorce in another state;
- Attending an out-of-state institution as a resident of that state; or
- Declaring non-residence for state income tax purposes.
Exceptions to Residency Rule
Exceptions to the residency determination as set forth above will be applied to certain factual situations. If the student would otherwise be classified a non-resident, but fits within one of the following exceptions, he or she will be granted resident classification until he or she obtains such classification.
Examples of some exceptions are:
- A minor whose parents moved from California prior to the residency determination date will retain resident classification if he or she remains in California and continues full-time attendance at College of the Desert.
- A student who is a minor and who has been self-supporting and in California for one year preceding the day before the term will be granted resident classification.
- A child or spouse of a member of the armed forces stationed in California will be granted resident classification. A student who is a member of the armed forces not assigned to California for purposes of education will be entitled to resident classification.
- Adult aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence and present for one year will be given resident classification. Minor aliens may use their parent’s durational presence to satisfy the one-year requirement.
- A student holding a valid credential authorizing service in a public school and employed in a certificated position by a community college district will be given resident classification.
- Certain refugees may claim exception from non-resident tuition with documentation from the Department of Homeland Security evidencing that the student is a refugee and establishing that he or she has been a California resident for one year.
- A student who is a full-time employee of a California school enrolling in courses necessary for credential qualifications will be given resident classification.
California Non-Resident Tuition Exemption (AB 540)
Any student, other than a non-immigrant alien, who meets all of the following requirements, shall be exempt from paying non-resident tuition.
- The student must have attended a high school (public or private) in California for three or more years. Students that graduate early from high school may use years in middle school to meet the three years of attendance requirement.
- The student must have graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent prior to the start of the term (for example, passing the GED, California High School Proficiency exam, or California High School Exit Exam).
- An alien student who is without lawful immigration status must file an affidavit with the College stating that he or she has filed an application to legalize his or her immigration status, or will file an application as soon as he or she is eligible to do so. Students who are eligible for the AB 540 exemption must complete and submit the California Non-resident Tuition Exemption Request along with the appropriate evidence of high school completion. Please visit the Admissions & Records Office webpage for the AB 540 Exemption Request.
- Students, who hold non-immigrant visas [for example, Tourist (B-1, B-2), Foreign Student (F-1), NAFTA (TN & TD), and Exchange Student (J), ECT] are not eligible for this exemption. B1 & B2 (tourist visa) students are not allowed to attend College of the Desert.
- Students who enroll into classes pending notification of approval for the qualifying semester are responsible for the quoted tuition.
- Students who are approved based on the submitted documents will receive a refund on the non-resident tuition they have paid. The burden of residency proof rests with the applicant.