State hearings at WSU eye changing residency rules

The hearing will be from 1-4 p.m. Friday, May 30, in Lighty Student Services Building, Room 405.

The public hearings, including a May 27 hearing at University of Washington in Seattle, which is the next step in a process that began Feb. 26 when the HECB filed a formal notice to revise the Washington Administrative Code on student residency. State law directs the HECB to adopt rules establishing residency status for tuition purposes.

Proposed changes would include a stronger proviso that a student living in Washington must reside in the state for purposes other than education, as well as a narrower definition of financial independence.

Current rules allow financially independent students to pay resident tuition rates after establishing domicile (defined as a “person’s true, fixed, and permanent home and place of habitation”) in the state for one year. A dependent student whose parents or legal guardian have established domicile for one year also would be allowed to pay in-state tuition rates.

WAC 250-18-030 further specifies that nonresident students enrolled for more than six hours per semester or quarter are presumed to be in the state for primarily educational purposes, which cannot be counted toward the one-year period required for domicile unless such student proves that he or she has, in fact, established a bona fide domicile in the state for purposes other than educational.

The proposed changes include language intended to make it more difficult for students to prove financial independence. For example, trust funds, which have been considered evidence of financial independence, would instead be considered evidence of financial dependence.

Students also would be required to demonstrate, by evidence satisfactory to the institution, that he or she has met, through his or her income, the expenses associated with college tuition and living for the current calendar year and the calendar year immediately prior to the year in which the application is made. Personal loans, Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students loans, gifts and cash earnings would not be counted as income in the calculation. Financial aid grants, scholarships and loans authorized by the financial aid office in the student’s name may be considered personal income.

HECB will consider changes to the several sections of the WAC, including definitions, student classification, classification procedure, establishment of a domicile and evidence of financial independence and dependence. It will also consider a new section on the prospective application of amendments.

Board action on the proposed changes is scheduled for June 12 in Olympia. If approved, the new rules would take effect July 14 and would apply in fall 2003.

The public hearings are not related to legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Locke (House Bill 1079) that allows undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition, provided they meet other residency requirements, organizers said. Students who have specific questions about their residency status should contact their institution’s residency offices.

For more information, contact Kris Betker at (360) 753-7817 or e-mail at krisb@hecb.wa.gov.

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