Residency For Tuition Purposes

Residency Overview

Washington residency law is codified in RCW 28B.15 and further explained in WAC 250-18. A student's eligibility for resident classification for tuition purposes often depends on how their circumstance corresponds with Washington law at the time of admission for their most current or upcoming enrollment. Residency requirements vary from one purposes to another. An individual may be considered a Washington resident for voting or identification purposes, but still not qualify for in-state tuition (or vice versa).

The Admissions Office determines your residency classification at time of admission. Your residency classification generally will remain the same throughout your continued enrollment at Western and determines the tuition and fee rate each academic term.

If you wish to have your residency classification re-evaluated, you must complete the Residency Questionnaire and submit it with the indicated documentation to the Registrar's Office in person or by email.  Email is the preferred method of submission at this time.

Filing Timeline

The time required to review a petition varies, depending on time of year, term for which the petition is being submitted, completeness of documentation, etc. In most cases, initial reviews for current-term petitions are completed within 10 business days of filing.

Students are strongly encouraged to submit petitions at least 3-4 weeks in advance of the academic quarter for which they are requesting reclassification. Under Washington law, any petition received more than 30 days after the first day of classes in a given term is by default considered for the following term (WAC 250-18-025). Petitions submitted before the filing deadline for a given quarter but with missing/incomplete documentation must be fully completed prior to the end date for the quarter (last day of Finals) in order to still apply for that term.

Petitions may be approved up to 60 days prior to when the residency/domicile requirement is met if other documentation is supportive of resident classification. Petitions filed more than 60 days before the residency/domicile requirement is complete may be put on hold or may require resubmission at a later date.

2023-24 Residency Filing Deadlines
Term Recommended Final
Fall 2023   before August 25, 2023   Closed (Oct. 27) 
Winter 2024    late Oct.-November 2023 Closed (Feb. 9) 
Spring 2024   mid-February-March 2024   Closed (May 3) 
Summer 2024      May-June 2024 July 26, 2024 

Filing a petition before the recommended period often results in a significant processing delay, as current-term residency reviews are given first priority.

Please contact our office with any questions.

2024-25 Residency Filing Deadlines
Term Recommended Final
Fall 2024   before August 23, 2024  October 25, 2024 
Winter 2025    late Oct.-November 2024 Feb. 7, 2025 
Spring 2025   mid-February-March 2025   May 2, 2025 
Summer 2025      May-June 2025 July 25, 2025 


Top Four Residency Questions

In most cases, no.

Washington law views terms (quarters) of enrollment in more than six credits at any Washington institution to be primarily for educational purposes. Such terms usually do not count toward the 12 months of continuous primary residency or domicile required for an individual to become eligible for resident tuition. This is true regardless of other actions like registering to vote or changing state ID/driver's license.

A dependent with a Washington-domiciled parent/legal guardian is often eligible for resident classification. The parent/guardian must have been domiciled for a full 12 months. The student does not have to be claimed by the Washington parent.


Active duty military members and veterans often are eligible for resident tuition rates. Their dependents, children, and/or spouses may be eligible, as well, though some limitations based on age, duration of service, and/or date of separation may apply.

For more information, please scroll to the Active Military, Veterans or a Dependent/Spouse section, below.

Read the FAQ linked below, then reach out to our office.

Residency Petition Process

The Admissions Office or the Graduate School does the initial determination of residency.

Until you are an admitted student, our office will not do a formal review of your residency status. We are happy to discuss residency requirements with potential applicants or their families, but no final determination on residency eligibility will be made in advance of application and acceptance to Western.

What are the required documents?

  • Read thoroughly the Residency Questionnaire. In most cases, we expect to see a state-issued driver's license or ID and some confirmation of WA-located physical living accommodations. Other documentation, including confirmation of employment/income, recent tax filings, vehicle registration(s), voter registration, or other items indicative of residency, may be required depending on the type of residency for which you may qualify.

Whose information would be required to prove Washington State domicile or primary residency?

  • Petitioning as financially dependent with WA-resident parent/guardian: It will be the information and documentation from the WA-domiciled parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
  • Petitioning as financially independent with Washington domicile: The student’s information and documentation will be required.
  • Petitioning based on maintaining 12-month primary WA residence for reasons other than postsecondary education: The student's information and documentation will be required.                            

Will I be disqualified, if I do not have one of the required documents?

  • Complete the application to your best ability. Residency is rarely dependent on one single item. It is demonstrated by a combination of items that make it clear that domicile/residency is tied to WA rather than any other state and was maintained for reasons other than primarily postsecondary education.
  • In most cases, individuals asserting WA domicile must have a minimum of a Washington-issued ID or driver's license and be registered to vote in Washington. Individuals seeking to establish residency based on domicile while concurrently attending should consider those to be required items that must be in place for at least 12 months prior to the start of the term for which a change in residency is being requested.

Electronic submission of materials in PDF format is preferred.

Residency classifications are not given retroactively for prior academic terms. Evaluating residency classification may take up to 30 business days after the start of the quarter to complete.

All tuition and fee deadlines remain in effect during the evaluation process. Do not delay tuition and fee payment just because a residency classification evaluation is in progress. During the residency evaluation process, you may be asked to provide additional documentation. All requests are sent to student’s WWU email.

Any petition submitted more than 30 days after the start of classes is, by default, considered for the following term. 

Active Military, Veterans or a Dependent/Spouse

Active duty service members, veterans, and their dependents and spouses are often eligible for resident tuition rates while attending Western. This includes most individuals who:

  • Are eligible for military-related educational benefits (G.I. Bill, DEA, VR&E, etc.), regardless of current home state
  • Currently are stationed in Washington or who were stationed in WA within the last three years (or a spouse or dependent), regardless of current home state
  • Separated in the last 3 years with at least 10 years honorable service (or spouse or dependent), regardless of current home state
  • Entered service as a WA resident and are stationed out of state, but have retained WA domicile--WA tax state on LES, WA license, WA voter registration, etc. (or spouse or dependent)

In most cases, your eligibility for military-related residency must be documented before you can be classified as a resident. Students are responsible for notifying the university if they believe they are eligible for reclassification as a resident by filing a petition with the Veteran Services Office.

For more information on veteran status concerning Washington State Residency, please visit Veterans Services. 

Filing deadlines for military/veteran residency are the same as for all other residency petitions.

Native American Residency

American Indian students who meet the following two conditions are eligible to pay resident tuition at colleges and universities in Washington State:

  1. They are a member of a federally recognized tribe whose traditional and customary tribal boundaries included portions of the state of Washington, or whose tribe was granted reserved lands within the state of Washington.
  2. For a period of one year immediately prior to enrollment at a state institution of higher education, they must have been domiciled in one of, or a combination of, the following states: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington.
  • Federally-recognized tribes in Washington.
  • Couer d'Alene Tribe
  • Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
  • Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
  • Nez Perce Tribe

Please email the Registrar's Office residency mailbox if you think you may be eligible for resident tuition rates based on tribal membership.

Reciprocity and Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)

Western does not have residency reciprocity agreements that extend in-state tuition to students from neighboring states.

Western is a participant in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. This program provides funding to offset the non-resident cost for qualifying students. WUE recipients still remain classified as non-residents for tuition purposes, but the scholarship reduces the non-resident tuition cost significantly (to about 150% of the resident rate). 

  • Not every student from a WUE-eligible state will receive a WUE waiver.
  • Western's WUE program is our most prestigious non-resident scholarship and is highly competitive.
  • WUE is available only to first-year, fall-admit students from certain Western states, territories, or participating nations. 

Other programs to reduce costs for select out-of-state students are available at WWU and are open to students from all states.

More information on WUE and other WWU scholarship programs for first-year, out-of-state students can be found on the Admissions website.

Who Should I Contact About Residency?

Email: Phone: (360) 650-3432, option 2