What is Residency for Tuition Purposes?

The residency information provided during your admissions review will initiate your residence review. You may be asked to provide further information to determine your eligibility for resident tuition.

In general, to be eligible for resident tuition, you must be a bona fide resident of Wisconsin during the 12 months prior to enrollment. Individuals who enter and remain in Wisconsin primarily for educational purposes do not qualify as bona fide residents for tuition purposes even after living in Wisconsin a year or more.

If you do not qualify as a Wisconsin resident, you will be classified as a nonresident and pay nonresident tuition. The nonresident classification will continue in effect until you overcome the presumption that you are here primarily for educational purposes.

If you are already enrolled at a UW institution as a nonresident, and believe your classification should be changed to resident, you will usually need to go through an appeal process to have your residency classification reviewed.

Note: Under Federal law some active duty members of the armed forces and their families may be eligible for resident tuition as outlined in 20 USC 1015d.  This information focuses on the Wisconsin laws governing resident status for tuition purposes. Eligibility for resident tuition under Federal law is not the same thing as meeting the criteria for Resident Status under Wisconsin law. Students eligible for in-state tuition through military affiliation are classified as non-residents while receiving the resident tuition rate. Veterans may also be eligible.

What is “Bona Fide Residence”?

Bona fide residence is defined in Wisconsin Statutes § 36.27(2)(e). It requires that a person be able to demonstrate intent to establish and maintain a permanent home in Wisconsin:

Intent may be demonstrated or disproved by factors including, but not limited to, timely filing of a Wisconsin income tax return of the type that only full-year Wisconsin residents may file, voter registration in Wisconsin, motor vehicle registration in Wisconsin, possession of a Wisconsin operator’s license, place of employment, self-support, involvement in community activities in Wisconsin, physical presence in Wisconsin for at least 12 months preceding the beginning of the semester or session for which the student registers, and, if the student is not a U.S. citizen, possession of a visa that permits indefinite residence in the United States.” Wisconsin Statutes § 36.27(2)(e).”

Updated: 04/04/2024

For more information about residency status at a specific campus, contact the campus Office of Admissions, which can connect you with residency staff.