Hawaiʻi Residency Requirements
The University of Hawaiʻi, like all public institutions of higher learning, has residency requirements for payment of resident tuition. These requirements, similar to those of other states, are complex.
Consequently, students applying to the University often have questions about their residency status as it applies to tuition. The following section is designed to acquaint you with the University of Hawaiʻi’s residency regulations and to answer some of the questions you may have. The following information is not a complete explanation of the residency rules and regulations. Furthermore, residency rules may change as a result of legislation or administrative action. Residency officers on all campuses have up-to-date information on all aspects of residency. Review the Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4 document for more detailed information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean when asked if I will be 17 years or younger, or 18 years or older when I enroll at the University of Hawaiʻi System?
Identify if you will be 17 years or younger, or 18 years or older when you begin taking courses. You can compare the first date of the term you begin and your age at that time.
How do I answer from which date I (or my parent or legal guardian) claim legal residence in Hawaiʻi?
Select the date you began your residency in Hawaiʻi. If you were born in Hawaiʻi and didn't reside elsewhere, select your date of birth.
What are the residency requirements which determine whether I pay resident or non-resident tuition?
To qualify for resident tuition, you must have been a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi for at least one calendar year (365 days) prior to the academic term (e.g., fall semester) for which you want resident tuition status. This applies to adults 18 years of age or older. If you are a minor (under 18 years of age), your parents or court-ordered guardians must have been bona fide residents for the calendar year in question.
In addition, whether you are an adult or minor, you must not have been claimed as a dependent for tax purposes by your parents or court-ordered guardians for the calendar year in question if they are not legal residents of Hawaiʻi. Please check with the campus residency officer if you have any further questions on residency for tuition purposes.
What do you mean by "bona fide residence?"
Bona fide residence is similar to the legal concept of domicile. A person’s domicile is the place where that person lives permanently and returns to after any absence. To be a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi, you must be physically present in the state and demonstrate during the calendar year in question your intent to make Hawaiʻi your permanent residence. Please check with the campus residency officer if you have any further questions on residency for tuition purposes.
How would I demonstrate my intent to make Hawaiʻi my permanent home?
Intent for resident tuition purposes is based not on your future actions, but on what you have done in the immediate past (i.e., prior to the academic term (e.g., fall semester) for which you want resident tuition status). No single action will demonstrate your intent. The University will look for a combination of actions when evaluating your residency status.
Of all the possible actions you might take, the most important are: (1) filing a Hawaiʻi resident personal income tax form; and (2) registering to vote and voting in Hawaiʻi.
Other actions may be considered. These include: (1) ownership or continuous lease of a home in Hawaiʻi; (2) permanent or continuous employment in Hawaiʻi; and (3) presence of spouse, children, and other close relatives in Hawaiʻi.
Of course, you may report any other actions that you wish to have considered. Please contact the campus residency officer to discuss your specific situation.
What else should I know about Hawaiʻi's residency requirements?
Except as otherwise provided by the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents, in order to be considered a resident for tuition purposes, you should understand the following:
- In order to be considered a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi for tuition purposes, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the United States. Those who are undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for resident tuition status. Complete the Undocumented Student Residency Tuition Request Form.
- You cannot maintain a domicile in Hawaiʻi and in another place simultaneously. In other words, you cannot be a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi if you appear to maintain your domicile somewhere else at the same time.
- The one-calendar-year (twelve consecutive months) period begins when you take the first overt action demonstrating your intent to make Hawaiʻi your permanent residence (i.e., start employment, register to vote, purchase property, or get a general excise license).
- You cannot establish residency by simply being enrolled in school. If you are a non-resident student and enrolled in six or more credits at your institution, it is presumed that you are living in Hawaiʻi primarily to attend school, and your presence is temporary even if you live in Hawaiʻi during vacation and other breaks from study. You may overcome this presumption only by other actions which demonstrate your intent to reside permanently in Hawaiʻi.
I heard that some non-residents pay resident tuition. Is this true?
Yes, State of Hawaiʻi law recognizes several categories of non-resident students who are allowed to pay resident tuition:
- United States military personnel, their spouses, and their authorized dependents (up to age 23) during the period the military personnel is stationed in Hawaiʻi on active duty.
- Members of the Hawaiʻi National Guard or Hawaiʻi-based Reserve who are under contract in Hawaiʻi.
- Certain employees of the University of Hawaiʻi, their spouses, and dependents.
- East-West Center student grantees pursuing baccalaureate or advanced degrees at the University of Hawaiʻi.
- Native Hawaiians, descendants of the aboriginal peoples who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands and exercised sovereignty in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778.
In addition, the University of Hawaiʻi also allows citizens of certain Pacific islands that do not have baccalaureate-granting public institutions to pay 150 percent of the resident tuition:
- American Samoa
- Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas
- Cook Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Rapa Nui
- Republic of the Marshall Islands
- Republic of Palau
- Solomon Islands
For more information, review the following policies:
Can I attend school and establish residency for tuition purposes at the same time?
Yes, but there is a credit restriction during the one calendar year (365 days) during which you are establishing residency. You are limited to taking only five semester credits each semester at any school in Hawaiʻi. You may take online/distance learning courses that are offered in a different state, but you must pay that institution's non-resident tuition rate.
I intend to live in Hawaiʻi permanently and would like to establish residency. What should I do first?
Because everyone’s situation is different, please contact the campus admissions office to discuss your specific situation.
Who determines my residency status?
Each University of Hawaiʻi campus has a Residency Officer who oversees and determines the resident or non-resident status of all students at that campus. All residency decisions are based on Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4: Determination of Residency as Applied to Tuition and Admission. If the residency process seems somewhat rigorous and detailed, it is because residency officers, by law, must be precise in determining a student’s residency status.
If you’re already attending the University as a non-resident and believe that you now qualify for resident tuition, you must request to be re-classified. Please contact the campus residency officer to discuss your specific situation.
If I disagree with the determination, what recourse do I have?
There is an appeal process. You may contact the campus admissions office for information regarding appealing your residency decision.
How can I learn more about residency requirements which determine my tuition?
Detailed information is available in Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4 (PDF).
If you have more questions or would like to learn more, please contact the campus admissions office to discuss your specific situation.