Hawai'i Residency for Tuition Purposes

An official determination of residency status will be made at the time of application. Applicants may be required to provide documentation to verify residency status.
The University of Hawai`i (UH) is the state’s public institution of higher learning and is partially supported by state taxes. Therefore, like all public institutions of higher learning, UH has residency requirements for payment of resident tuition.

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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). We may request the following documents to help us determine your residency status:
  • State of Hawaiʻi personal income tax, filing as a resident
  • 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.

All documents must be received prior to the first day of instruction. Not all documents are required, as one may be substituted for another. Please call (808) 245-8225 to discuss your specific situation.

Except as otherwise provided by the Board of Regents, 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). Those who are undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for resident tuition status. Complete the Undocumented Student Residency Tuition Request Form [PDF] and submit to the Office of Admissions for review.

You cannot maintain a 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.

Everyone’s situation is different, contact the Admissions & Records Office for more information. Refer to Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4, page 4-5.

Yes, the University of Hawai'i recognizes several categories of nonresident students who are allowed to pay the in-state tuition.

Non-Resident Tuition Exemption

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 (see above). 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.