North Carolina Residency Determination Service (RDS) is used to determine whether a student qualifies for in-state or out-state tuition. When completing the NC Residency Determination Application, please read and answer all the questions CAREFULLY because this can impact your results.
Application for NC Residency
Application for North Carolina Residency
Due to the implementing of Session Law 2013-360, the state of North Carolina has introduced the Residency Determination Service (RDS), in coordination with other NC community colleges and universities, as the centralized service for determining residency for students. This service enables a student to use one residency determination for admissions applications to multiple NC public colleges and universities and to demonstrate residency for state aid programs consideration at all public and private NC colleges and universities.
- While completing the admissions application through CFNC, the system will direct the student into RDS seamlessly. Students not using CFNC have a simple link to RDS on the college admission application. Basically, RDS can be used before, during, and after submitting an admission application.
- To enhance consistency and accuracy of determination, RDS asks the fewest questions possible to reach a “yes” result while assessing the most options possible before saying “no.”
- Once the student has completed the RDS application, the student will receive a Residency Certification Number (RCN).
- RDS will inform a student of their residency status immediately upon completion of the online application. In addition to the residency determination status, the student will receive a summary of the data they entered. Students who are non-residents will receive a plain English description of why they were determined to be a non-resident (if determined to be so).
For tips on completely your residency request, check out our Tip Guide.
What is the Residency Certification Number (RCN)?
The Residency Certification Number (RCN) is a unique identifier that RDS assigns to a student and provides confirmation that a student has completed the residency determination process. The RCN is unique to the student and may be used by a campus to request data concerning a student’s residency determination. The RCN allows RDS to share any existing “active” record for that student with a school and allows RDS to know that an old record has expired and is now inactive. If the RDS record is inactive, the student must seek a new determination from RDS. The school can download the resulting data based on the student’s RCN.
If a student seeks reconsideration, or uses RDS again, the RCN remains the same indefinitely.
Frequently Asked Questions
All curriculum undergraduate students applying for admission, re-admission, or transfer to a state school will be expected to use RDS. Students, applying to or enrolled at a North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU) institution, who are interested in applying for a North Carolina state grant will be required to complete RDS. Most Corporate & Continuing Education students are exempt from this process.
No. Students who were admitted as residents and granted in-state tuition by any NC college will retain that residency status under the policy of “continuous enrollment.” Should a student experience a “break” in continuous enrollment, or transfer across systems (university to community college or vice versa), the school will require the student to reapply for admission and, at that time, the student must undergo an RDS residency determination.
Solely for purposes of the Residency Determination System (RDS), a student is continuously enrolled at a North Carolina higher education institution if the student is consecutively enrolled at the same North Carolina higher education institution in fall and spring semesters in courses or prerequisites creditable toward a degree, diploma, or certificate for which tuition is charged.
A break in enrollment occurs when a student is not enrolled in two consecutive semesters (i.e. fall and spring or spring and fall). Students are not required to be enrolled during the summer term(s) to maintain continuous enrollment for purposes of RDS. UNC, NCCCS and NCICU have worked together to craft a common policy and to explore how the policy might work within systems and across the systems. This policy will be communicated to the schools and is separate from RDS processes.
Normally, a student should seek residency determination through RDS before or during the admissions process. The school can always admit a student before RDS is complete, but state law requires that the student be billed out-of-state tuition until they are determined to be a resident. RDS will provide an initial determination immediately upon the student’s completion of the RDS online interview and that result is immediately presented to the student. The resulting residency status is available to the school in near real time through the school’s administrative portal.
Yes, the RDS system will determine residency for minors. The vast majority of applications will be determined based on their parent(s) information. In a number of exceptional cases- emancipated minor, parents are deceased, 5 year rule, etc.- the system will determine residency appropriately based on the minor’s particular circumstances.
Because RDS relies heavily on the ability to database match with state agencies in order to validate the data a student enters into the RDS online interview, a unique identifier is critical to a successful determination. Students who cannot (or will not) provide a unique identifier will be initially classified as out-of-state and will need to request an appeal which will require in-person submission of paper identification.
DACA students are undocumented and, by law, do not have capacity to be considered for residency. Students who identify themselves in a DACA status will be classified as out-of-state by RDS. Campuses may work with DACA students to identify any exceptions that may allow them to receive in-state tuition.
RDS relies on a complex determination of independence based on clearly documented lack of a “parental” relationship and the “financial self-sufficiency” of the individual. Without clear demonstration of both, the residency of a student, regardless of age, is dependent on the parent’s information.
Continuous enrollment applies and the student does not need to reapply annually.
If a student identifies as a high school student seeking CCP admission to a community college, CFNC will NOT pass that student to the RDS system, since the student does not need a residency determination. At the point at which the CCP student is graduated from high school and applies to become a college student, the student will need to apply for residency. If the student graduates from college at the same time as high school, the student will not need to apply for residency.
RDS is seeking clarification and simplification regarding residency for inmates. RDS will share the process once clarification is confirmed.
- Campus-level assistance with data entry, either face-to-face or by telephone, fulfilling on-campus requirements for ADA compliance.
- The NC Residency Determination Service (RDS) call center at CFI via a state-wide toll free number
The NC Residency Determination Service (RDS) call center at CFI will provide comprehensive customer support for the students, families and schools utilizing the RDS system. There will be a state-wide toll free number for students and families and a separate state-wide toll free number for schools.
The RDS RCN is a unique identifier for an individual within the RDS system and is, at all times, discoverable for that individual- given enough identifying information. A RCN is given to a student after the submission of a student’s first RDS residency determination. If the student logs in to RDS using user name/email and password, the student may print the RCN. If a student forgets the RCN, the student can contact RDS and, with proper identification receive a reminder of the RCN via email or text.
You may upload, fax, or mail information directly to RDS. If a student is unable to upload required documentation during their interview session and has documentation outstanding, the deadline is 10 days from the date the interview is submitted. If a student is unable to locate or upload the documentation within those 10 days, the student can request an extension. If a student passes the documentation deadline and has not submitted the required documentation, the student will be classified as a nonresident and be expected to pay out-of-state tuition. The student may then seek reconsideration if they still want to claim NC Residency. See Appeals for additional information on reconsideration.
RDS is designed to provide a wide variety of pathways and options for a student to prove their NC residency, while making it difficult to defraud the system. RDS achieves this balance while adhering to state law. A driver’s license is only one piece of data that RDS will collect in reaching its determination. Assessment of other collected information may allow a student to be determined a resident, even without a driver’s license.
RDS will collect information to assist campuses in determining that an individual might be eligible for one of the “system-specific” exceptions. RDS will not inform the student directly of potential eligibility. Instead, RDS will provide exception codes in the RDS data which will identify possible exceptions for which that student might be eligible, based on information given in the RDS online interview. The school is ultimately responsible for granting these exceptions according to system policy and practice.
RDS will automatically update residency status on the Grants System-a grant cannot be funded without a student’s residency determination. Here are some basic points for how Residency will work in the Grants System when RDS is deployed:
- Students with existing determinations from schools (the student received a grant at that school in the last term) will be grandfathered going forward unless:
- The student changes schools the student does NOT receive a grant for two (non-summer) consecutive terms
- New applicants for admission (before RDS is deployed) will receive a projected award if they indicate they are NC residents on their FAFSA (as they do currently) and the school will certify residency
- New applicants for admission (after RDS is deployed) will need to have a residency determination from RDS –the Grants System will automatically reflect that determination
- Students who are no longer grandfathered will need to have a residency determination from RDS and the Grants System will automatically reflect that determination
- A school may certify a grant for a student who has a projected residency; but only a student who is grandfathered or who has a determination from RDS can receive a state grant
- SEAA and RDS will work with the schools to develop accurate, transparent and appropriate language about residency determination and its impact on the awarding of state grants
Yes. Once an RDS determination is complete, students may submit a reconsideration to correct their data or report a change in circumstances, e.g.:
- Active duty military changes or discharge from the military
- Change in duration of living in NC
- Marriage to a NC resident
- Death of parent(s)
- Change in immigration or US citizenship status
- Change in financial self-sufficiency
- Relocation to NC by individual and/or family
Residency Appeals Process
The RDS provides four separate processes to reach a residency classification. Most students will only ever complete the Initial Consideration process. The reconsideration and appeal processes are for those students who have had a change in circumstance (reconsideration) or who have not had a change in circumstance and believe their residency classification is incorrect (appeal).
How will the RDS reconsideration process work? How often can it be done?
The RDS reconsideration process is for students who need to correct errors in the data submitted during the RDS online interview or for students who have had a change in personal circumstances since their original determination (the student got married, her parents died, she joined the military, etc.). Students may apply for reconsideration through RDS by logging in with their user name and password. A student will use RDS to indicate the nature of the change and to complete the full range of RDS online interview questions. Additional documentation may be required and RDS will validate the answers.
The RDS reconsideration process is dependent upon student needs for data changes and changes in circumstance, however, students are limited to one reconsideration request every 90 days, a rough approximation of the current practice of allowing one reclassification request per term. Should the student receive the same determination through the RDS reconsideration process and disagree with that residency determination, then the student has the option to appeal.
How will the appeals process work? What will a student need to do for an appeal? Who will conduct and determine appeals?
A student may always seek an appeal if the student believes that the RDS process has failed to consider accurately important information regarding the student’s residency status. The RDS appeals process will offer two levels of appeal, consistent with current practice. The initial appeal is the Additional Data and Documentation (“ADD”) appeal; the second level appeal is to a state-level committee. Students will continue to have litigation available to them as an option following these two levels of appeal.
- Additional Data and Documentation Appeal (ADD) – A “non-resident” student who believes the RDS determination is incorrect (i.e., key data was entered correctly and no change in circumstance has occurred) can move directly into the appeal process and provide additional narrative and/or documentation regarding his/her situation. The RDS website will provide a list of documentation which may support a residency claim; RDS will share this list with students. RDS will communicate to the student that:
- submission of any or all documentation does not guarantee an “in-state” determination
- non-submission of any or all documentation does not preclude an “in-state” determination.
At this level of appeal a student may use RDS to explain the basis of the appeal and may submit documents through the standard RDS documentation upload procedure. Data and documentation will be reviewed and assessed by an RDS appeal committee. This committee may choose to contact an appellant directly for further information or clarification.
- Higher Education Appeal Committee – This option is available to students who remain “out-of-state” following an ADD Appeal. This appeal committee, consisting of representatives of the UNC System, the Community College System, and the NC independent colleges and universities provides a check on the overall RDS process, allowing the committee to review a student’s case to ensure the process was conducted fairly and correctly, and that the outcome was correct based upon the information provided throughout the process. Additionally, this process provides appellants the opportunity to appear in person or via technological means (Skype, conference call) to support their case and provide additional information, documentation, and clarifications as needed.
Following any successful reconsideration or appeal, the student must notify the school that there has been a change in the student’s residency status so that the school can download the appropriate data reflecting the new determination and make the resulting change to the student’s tuition bill. Any change in residency status will automatically be available to the state Grants System. RDS instructions and documentation will reflect this requirement to ensure students are aware the change is not automatic at the campus level.
To complete the RDS application, please visit the RDS website.