Hawaiʻi Residency Requirements
The University of Hawaiʻi, like all public institutions of higher learning, has residency requirements for payment of resident tuition. Similar to those in other states, these requirements are complex. Consequently, students applying to UH Mānoa often have questions about their residency status as it applies to tuition.
This page is designed to acquaint you with the University of Hawaiʻi's residency regulations and to answer questions you might have. The information provided is not a complete explanation of residency laws and regulations. Furthermore, residency rules may change as a result of legislation or administrative action. Residency Officers on all campuses of the University of Hawaiʻi have the most up-to-date information on all aspects of residency.
- What residency requirements determine whether I pay resident or nonresident tuition?
- What is "bona fide residency"?
- How do I demonstrate my intent to make Hawaiʻi my permanent home?
- What else should I know about residency requirements?
- Can I attend school and establish residency for tuition purposes at the same time?
- Can I establish residency for tuition purposes if I participate in National Student Exchange (NSE), Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), or Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE)?
- I have heard some nonresidents pay resident tuition. Is this true?
- I intend to live in Hawaiʻi permanently and would like to establish residency for tuition purposes. What should I do first?
- Who determines my residency for tuition purposes?
- If I disagree with the residency determination, what recourse do I have?
- What advice can you give me if I am interested in establishing residency for tuition purposes?
- How can I learn more about the residency requirements that determine my 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 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.
Bona fide residency is similar to the legal concept of domicile. A person's domicile is the place where he or she 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.
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 semester for which you want resident tuition status). The following documents may be required to help determine resident tuition:
- State of Hawaiʻi personal income tax, filing as a resident (required in all cases)
- State of Hawaiʻi Voter Certificate
- State of Hawaiʻi General Excise License
- Employment verification
- Bank account active in Hawaiʻi
- Lease agreement
- Proof of property ownership
- Other documents as needed
You may also submit any other evidence you wish to have considered.
Not all documents are required, as one may be substituted for another. Please call 808-956-8975 or 1-800-823-9771 and ask for a residency counselor to discuss your specific situation.
In order to be considered a resident for tuition purposes, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident for one calendar year (365 days).
You cannot maintain domicile in Hawaiʻi and 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 "clock" begins when you take the first 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 enrolling in school. If you are a nonresident student, it is presumed that you are living in Hawaiʻi primarily to attend school and that your presence is temporary even if you live in Hawaiʻi during vacation and other breaks from study.
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 nonresident tuition rate.
Can I establish residency for tuition purposes if I participate in National Student Exchange (NSE), Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), or Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE)?
Yes, but your one calendar year (365 days) does not start until you finish/discontinue your participation in the program. This is assuming you have taken 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).
Yes, State of Hawaiʻi law recognizes several categories of nonresident 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
- Republic of the Marshall Islands
- Republic of Palau
- Solomon Islands
I intend to live in Hawaiʻi permanently and would like to establish residency for tuition purposes. What should I do first?
Because everyone's situation is different, you should call 808-956-8975 or 1-800-823-9771 and ask for a residency counselor. He or she will help you determine what action to take and what documents to provide when you become eligible for resident tuition.
Each University of Hawaiʻi campus has a Residency Officer who oversees the resident and nonresident status of all students at that campus. All residency decisions are based on Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4: Determination of Residency as Applied to Tuition and Admission. If the residency process seems rigorous and detailed, it is because, by law, Residency Officers must be precise in determining each student's residency status.
There is an appeal process. Appeal forms are available in the Office of Admissions & Records.
- If possible, call 808-956-8975 or 1-800-823-9771 and ask for a residency counselor before you arrive in Hawaiʻi. There is a time sensitive component to the establishing of residency process. This time sensitive component will determine the earliest semester you could qualify for resident tuition status.
- If possible, physically visit with a residency counselor. The residency counselor offers a checklist for you to follow when you are establishing residency. Based on your discussion, the checklist will be marked specifically to your situation.
- Do not deviate from what you have discussed with the residency counselor. One change could affect your eligibility for resident tuition status. If you do deviate from what has been discussed, contact a residency counselor as soon as possible to see how this will affect your eligibility for resident tuition status.
- Contact a residency counselor by phone before you turn in your documents to establish residency. By doing so, the residency counselor can determine if you have everything to be eligible for resident tuition or if you are missing document(s). The residency counselor wants to make the process easy for you and does not want to turn you away if you do not have all the documents necessary for the resident tuition status.
- Make copies of everything that will be turned in to the residency counselor. Bring both the original and copy and the residency counselor will decide what he/she will keep for his/her records.
Detailed information is available in Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4: Determination of Residency as Applied to Tuition and Admission (PDF).
For further clarification, call 808-956-8975 or 1-800-823-9771 and ask for a residency counselor.