The following information is a summary of the “Student Guide to Montana Residency Policy” and Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education Policy 940.1 Residency Policy: Montana University System. Students considering applying for residency for tuition purposes should review these documents thoroughly prior to applying for residency to make sure all requirements are met.
Application Materials and Deadlines
New students should contact the Admissions Office for initial residency classification. The Registrar’s Office is responsible for residency reclassification of currently enrolled students.
Residency applications and all supporting materials are due no later than the first Friday of classes of the term applying for residency. However, it is recommended to submit the application materials at least a month prior to the start of the semester to ensure enough time to review the application prior to the start of the semester.
Beyond the Residency Questionnaire, applicants must submit supporting documents providing proof of their established 12-month period or policy exceptions. It is highly recommended that an applicant use the Residency Pre-Screening Form to make sure supporting documents are in order prior to submission of the residency application.
To show proof of full-time employment or spouse’s full-time employment in Montana (H.1.b in policy 940.1), please download the Employment Affidavit form and submit it with the residency application.
Any person considered a non-resident for tuition purposes may be reclassified as a resident after the following conditions are met:
1. The applicant must be physically present in Montana for 12 continuous months. The 12-month period does not begin until one act that clearly indicates the intent to become a Montana Resident is taken. Actions that may be taken to begin the 12-month period include:
- Montana vehicle registration.
- A Montana driver’s license.
- Register to vote in Montana.
- Filing resident Montana income taxes.
- A principle residence is purchased and MT title obtained.
A total of 30 days absence from the state is allowed during the 12-month period. A person who is absent from Montana in excess of a total of 30 days during the 12-month period is presumed to lack the necessary intent to acquire MT residency, and will remain classified as a non-resident. If the applicant is absent from Montana more than 30 days they must begin a new 12-month period.
2. If enrolled in classes during the 12-month period, the student must not enroll more than half time (six credits). Students enrolled full-time are considered to be in Montana for educational purposes and any period of full-time enrollment at a college or university will negate the act that began the 12-month period.
3. The applicant cannot be claimed as an exemption by a non-resident parent or legal guardian on federal income taxes starting with the tax year in which the 12-month period begins.
4. During the 12-month period and thereafter, an individual is expected to act in a manner consistent with Montana residency and do all those things required by law of any resident. Examples of inconsistent or contradictory actions are voting absentee ballot in another state, receiving financial benefits from another state based on residence, maintaining legal ties with another state, participation in an exchange program such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) that affect fee status, or receiving financial aid/scholarships based on residence other than Montana.
Special Circumstances and Exemptions to the Policy
1. A minor or un-emancipated person may be considered a resident if:
- The student normally resides with a parent who is a resident of Montana.
- If the parent who takes the student as an exemption for federal income tax purposes, or supplies majority of their financial support (51%) is a Montana resident.
2. Members of the armed forces stationed in Montana on regular active duty, their spouse, and dependent children will be classified as residents during the tour of duty. This does not include service in the Montana National Guard and/or Reserve Units unless full-time, active duty status can be proven.
3. A person domiciled in Montana who is employed in a permanent, full-time job, his/her spouse, and dependent children are considered residents of Montana without fulfilling the 12-month period, if demonstrated proof can be provided that the primary purpose for the move to Montana was not education, and that all legal ties have been changed to Montana, i.e. driver’s licenses, vehicle and voter registrations, etc. This exemption to the 12-month period is based upon a permanent, full time job offer and acceptance of that offer prior to the individual’s move to Montana, or the submission of any Application for Admissions materials to a college or university in the state.
4. Any graduate of a Montana high school accredited by the Board of Public Education who is a citizen of the U.S. or a Permanent Resident Alien, who registers as any unit (college) of the Montana University System no later than the 4th fall term following the student’s high school graduation shall be eligible for in-state fee status for five years from the date of initial registration or until the achievement of a baccalaureate degree, whichever occurs first, provided that the individual attended the Montana high school for the entire senior year.
5. It is presumed that an individual who was formerly eligible for in-state fee status who has been absent from Montana for a period of 12 months or more, has abandoned in-state status. This presumption does not apply to individuals who can demonstrate that Montana residence was maintained during the absence, and no actions were taken in contradiction of the claim of Montana residence. Examples of such evidence would be: maintaining legal ties with Montana, i.e. driver’s license, voter registration/voting absentee ballot, vehicle registration, and the filing of full-year resident Montana income tax returns on all income earned. This presumption of non-residence does not apply to individuals who left the state solely for educational purposes or for military service, provided the individual did nothing to contradict Montana resident status. If contradictory actions are taken, the individual could lose Montana resident status for fee purposes immediately, e.g. employment in another state, legal ties changed to another state, and/or filing resident income tax returns in a state other than Montana.