Eligibility for In-State Tuition

Students who have been legally domiciled in Virginia for at least one year prior to the first day of classes for a term are eligible to pay tuition at the in-state rate. Domicile means the present, fixed home of an individual who returns following temporary absences and at which he/she intends to stay indefinitely. Domicile is NOT the same thing as residence. A person may have residences in more than one state, but may have only one domicile.

With certain exceptions[1] students under the age of 24 are rebuttably presumed to have their parents’ or legal guardians’ domicile. All students are initially presumed to be out of state and must establish through clear and convincing evidence that they qualify for in-state tuition. The domicile determination made by one college is not binding on any other college the student may attend.

The following are eligible to establish domicile:

  • All US citizens
  • Permanent Residents (green card holders)
  • Asylees
  • Refugees
  • Individuals under Temporary Protective Status
  • Holders of certain nonimmigrant visas
  • Individuals under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

In addition, there are special provisions for active duty military, veterans, and their families that allow them to pay in-state tuition without meeting normal domicile requirements.

NOVA, like all Virginia public colleges and universities, is governed by the Domicile Guidelines issued by the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The guidelines are authorized by and derived from the Code of Virginia.

A student’s eligibility for in-state tuition at all colleges in the Virginia Community College System, including NOVA, is initially determined by information gathered from the online Application for Admission. The domicile questions include such things as how long the student or parent has lived in Virginia; whether the student or parent has a Virginia driver’s license, car registration, and voter registration; and the student’s or parent’s history of paying Virginia income taxes as required by law. The initial determination is automated and is communicated to students on the confirmation page they receive when they submit the application. Students have a right to challenge the initial determination by filing an appeal.

Undocumented Students

The following are eligible to receive In-state tuition under the Tuition Equity Provision:

As of July 2020, the Commonwealth of Virginia has adopted a provision for individuals who may not be eligible for domicile, but live, work, and pay taxes to the Commonwealth (§23.1-506). Eligibility for in-state tuition; exception; certain out-of-state and high school students. 

  1. attended high school for at least two years in the Commonwealth and either
    • graduated on or after July 1, 2008, from a public or private high school or program of home instruction in the Commonwealth or
    • passed on or after July 1, 2008, a high school equivalency examination (GED) approved by the Secretary of Education;
  2. has submitted evidence that they or, in the case of a dependent student, at least one parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis has filed, unless exempted by state law, Virginia income tax returns for at least two years immediately prior to the date of registration or enrollment; and
  3. registers as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Students who meet these criteria shall be eligible for in-state tuition regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, except that students with currently valid visas F, H, J or M not eligible.

 Click here for Tuition Equity Provision form.

[1]. ^ A student under 24 is presumed to be independent if s/he is a veteran or an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces; is a graduate school or professional school student; is married; is a ward of the court or was a ward of the court until age 18; has no adoptive or legal guardian when both parents are deceased; has legal dependents other than a spouse; is able to present clear and convincing evidence of financial self-sufficiency; is the US citizen child of ineligible parents; or was approved for DACA at least one year before the first day of classes for the term.

Updated: Fall 2014