Students are typically categorized in one of two ways. Students are either financially
independent or financially dependent according to South Carolina’s guidelines governing
South Carolina residency eligibility. This should not be confused with the federal
guidelines governing financial aid eligibility.
Financially Independent Students
Financially Independent students are those who provide the MAJORITY (51%) of their own support. That support may come from earnings or income from employment, investments, or payments from grants, scholarships, commercial loans in the student's name or payments made in accordance with a court order and some, but not all, trusts.
If you are financially independent, your residency is based on whether you have physically
resided, and been domiciled, in South Carolina for the twelve (12) continuous months
immediately preceding the date classes are scheduled to begin for the semester in
which you wish to claim South Carolina as your state of legal residence.
Financially Dependent Students
Financially Dependent students are those who do not provide the MAJORITY of their own support. A parent, spouse, or guardian who claims the student on his or her federal income tax return typically provides the majority of support for these students. In the case of those individuals who are supported by family members that do not earn enough reportable income for taxation purposes, a dependent individual can be defined as one who qualifies as a dependent or exemption on the federal income tax return of the parent, spouse, or guardian. A dependent individual is also one for whom payments are made, under court order, for child support and the cost of the dependent individual’s college education.
If you are financially dependent, your residency is based on the residency of the
person upon whom you are dependent. As such, the person upon whom you are dependent
must have physically resided, and been domiciled, in South Carolina for twelve (12)
continuous months immediately preceding the date classes are scheduled to begin for
the semester in which you wish to claim South Carolina as your state of legal residence.
The person upon whom you are dependent must also meet the following applicable requirements.
Proving Your Residency
You or the person on whom you are dependent must also meet the following applicable requirements. No single indicator will be considered conclusive evidence of primary residence:
- Designation of South Carolina as state of legal residence on military record
- Possession of a valid South Carolina Driver’s License, or if a non-driver, a South Carolina Identification Card (Failure to comply with state law requiring residents to obtain this within 90 days of establishing intent to become a South Carolina resident will reset the beginning date of residency eligibility to the date on which the appropriate document is obtained.)
- Possession of a valid South Carolina Vehicle Registration Card (Failure to comply with state law requiring residents to obtain this within 45 days of establishing intent to become a South Carolina resident will reset the beginning date of residency eligibility to the date on which a South Carolina Vehicle Registration Card is obtained.)
- Maintenance of domicile in South Carolina
- Paid South Carolina income taxes as a “Resident” during the previous tax year, including income earned outside of South Carolina from the date on which intent is being claimed
- Own a principal residence in South Carolina
- Licensed for professional practice (if applicable) in South Carolina.
The absence of indicia in other states or countries is required before an independent
individual is eligible to pay in-state rates. Therefore, you must not be in possession
of a driver’s license or vehicle registration certificate issued by another state.
Some students may qualify to pay in-state tuition and fees without having to establish
a permanent home in the state for the twelve (12) continuous months immediately preceding
the date classes are scheduled to begin. Learn about qualifying exceptions.
Sometimes, a student with documented South Carolina residency may move to another state or, the person upon whom the student is dependent may move out of South Carolina. This can affect a student’s residency status. When these situations arise, contact the SC residency office to avoid having a financial hold placed your registration, transcript or diploma.