How long do I have to live in Colorado to get in-state tuition?

The importance of a university education cannot be stressed. Although it is very important, it does not take away from the fact that it is super expensive. When considering whether to pursue a college degree, you have to put into consideration; tuition, rooms and board, books and supplies and other expenses and then multiply by the 4 years you would spend or the equivalent number of years it would take to pursue the degree of choice. In this article we shall see how long does one have to live in Colorado to get in-state tuition?

When you finish with this calculation, you come up with a number that is very high. Most often, the number is way higher than what you have saved up for college which can be disheartening. So any opportunities to reduce cost should be jumped at. One way to reduce the cost of tuition is by in state tuition. Residents of a particular state get to pay a lesser fee to attend college in that state where an out of state resident student will not be granted such option. 

For the purpose of this article, we shall be looking at Colorado. Specifically, we shall be looking at how long you have to live in Colorado in order to get in-state tuition.

One way to definitely get in-state tuition is to have lived in Colorado all your life. By this means you will definitely qualify to pay the tuition fee in-state residents will be required to pay. However, if you have not lived in Colorado all your life and you intend to attend a college in that state and you would also like to qualify for in-state tuition, this is still a possible feat. 

How long do I have to live in Colorado to get in-state tuition?

Residency requirements for in state tuition in the state of Colorado

  • Domicile: This describes the place a person has shown an intention to make a permanent home and legal residence. You must reside in Colorado with the intention of making Colorado your permanent home and legal residence. 

Resident status requires at least 12 consecutive months of Colorado domicile immediately prior to the beginning of the term the student is seeking resident status.

However in order to be eligible to begin this 12 month period in order to show Colorado domicile, the individual has to be one of the following;

  • 22 years of age or older
  • A graduate student
  • Married
  • An emancipated student

It is however important to note that you cannot seek to establish Colorado domicile for the sole purpose of school or the intention to change your classification for tuition purpose from an out of state resident to an in state resident or for any other temporary purposes.

  • Physical presence: This simply means you are actually physically present in your permanent home and legal residence. You can prove your physical presence by one of the following ways;
    • Rent receipts
    • Lease agreement
    • Notarized statement from a landlord
    • Home ownership
  • Evidence of Intent: This is shown by giving up all legal ties to your previous state and establishing them with the state of Colorado for a consecutive period of 12 months. Proof that demonstrates evidence of intent may include the following;
    • Colorado voter registration
    • Change in permanent residence in all significant documents
    • Colorado driver’s license or valid Colorado ID for 12 consecutive months
    • Colorado motor vehicle registration for 12 consecutive months
    • Ownership of residential property in Colorado

In order to establish Colorado domicile, it is important to prove these important factors. Then and only then will you be eligible to be classed as a resident of the state of Colorado and be eligible for in state tuition. 

What are the exceptions to the one year domicile requirement?

There are exceptions to the one year domicile requirement. These exceptions however only apply to undergraduates that are under the age of 23 years. They include;

  • Four year rule: If you do not fall under a qualified individual i.e. 22 and above, married, an emancipated student or a graduate student and your parents lived in Colorado as their permanent home and legal residence for four years or more and then moved to another state just after you finished high school and then you apply to a Colorado public university within three years and a half after your parents left Colorado, you may be eligible for in state tuition.
  • Economic incentive program: If you are an employee where your employer moved their business operations to Colorado after receiving an incentive from Colorado office of economic development, you may be eligible for Colorado residency for in state tuition. The employee just has to show that they were employed at the organization just before the relocation and prove that they have established Colorado domicile.
  • New faculty at a state supported college: The dependent of a faculty member at a state supported college may be eligible for Colorado residency for the purpose of tuition. A dependent is described as an unmarried, undergraduate under the age of 23 on or before the first day of classes.
  • A student (not a non-immigrant alien) who attended Colorado high school for three years or more is eligible for Colorado residency and should be classed under in state tuition.

Who is eligible to petition for residency?

  • An adult student; if you fall under the following criteria, you may submit a complete adult resident petition
    • An adult student who is 23 years of age before the first day of classes
    • Student who has been married for at least a year before first day of classes
    • Students who are second year graduates

If you fall under any of these categories, you would still need to establish Colorado domicile i.e. establish that you have been living in Colorado for 12 consecutive months

  • Parent residency; an un-emancipated minor is deemed to have legal residency in Colorado if their parent or legal guardian resides in Colorado.
  • An emancipated minor; proving emancipation is very rare and almost impossible for undergrad students. An emancipated minor is one who is not yet 23 years of age. They can petition for residency if they can prove that they no longer receive financial support from parents, guardians, friends, relatives and they also have to establish Colorado domicile for at least one year before the start of classes

Where can Colorado residents get in-state tuition?

  • University of Colorado-Boulder (CU)
  • Colorado state university-Fort Collins (CSU)
  • University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS)


Getting in state tuition might be a cumbersome task for someone who has not lived in the state all their lives. Although it is cumbersome, it is not impossible. There are requirements to be fulfilled in order to qualify for in state tuition, however these requirements do have exceptions. With all these information, achieving residency in Colorado is a very do-able task.

Frequently asked Questions

  1. Do Colorado residents get in state tuition in other states?

A lot of regional, college specific programs enable students to qualify for in state or very largely discounted tuition at out of state public schools. Some of these programs are:

  • Regional discounts
  • Individual college programs