Residency Questions

How can residency be changed?

Complete the residency application for Western Michigan University which can be found on the accounts receivable website in the For Students section. Include all documents that show you have abandoned previous domicile and established a Michigan domicile by verifying 12 consecutive months of physical presence in Michigan immediately preceding the first day of classes for which residency is sought. Submit application according to established submission dates.


Who can apply for a change in residency status?

Any student who is a U.S. citizen or an international student who is eligible to reside permanently in the United States may be eligible to obtain residency status for tuition-paying purposes. Any student who can qualify based on spouse, parent, or by other means as stipulated in the provisions of this policy (seasonal workers, military dependents) may be eligible to obtain residency status for tuition-paying purposes.


What is the simplest way to get residency for tuition-paying purposes at WMU?

Provide a copy of your Michigan driver’s license and verification of enrollment in on-campus classes at Western Michigan University for four consecutive semesters or sessions (e.g., fall, spring, summer I, summer II) and then submit the Application for Resident Classification for University Admission and/or Fee Purposes for the following semester. You must, of course, be a U.S. citizen or have a permanent visa (green card).


What are the required documents?

All students who drive are required to provide a Michigan driver’s license. If you do not have a driver’s license in any state and do not drive, you may provide a Michigan state ID. Other documents required for a change of residency will vary depending on your claim for residency. Please refer to the checklist provided with the policy and application. Additional documentation may be requested to prove a continuous 12-month domicile. After you turn in your application, please check your Western Michigan University email regularly for these requests.


Do I have to have a Michigan driver’s license to get residency? Why?

Yes. A Michigan driver’s license is required. (If one drives, they must have a Michigan driver’s license. Having a Michigan driver’s license is used as evidence in showing a Michigan domicile has been established and that domicile elsewhere has been abandoned.)

Note: This was instituted in the policy effective for fall semester 2010, so other siblings who attended Western Michigan University before may not have had to provide a Michigan driver’s license to change their status.


How strict is administering the policy and requiring the 12 consecutive months of physical presence in Michigan immediately preceding the first day of classes?

The 12 consecutive months of physical presence in Michigan is defined as whenever Western Michigan University is holding classes. The consecutive months of physical presence must be immediately prior to the start of the semester or session applying for a change in status.

(For example: January to January; May to May; July to July; and for fall, September to September).

In some instances, the time period showing physical presence may be longer than just 12 consecutive months.


How long does it take to process an application for a change in residency status for tuition-paying purposes?

Applications are generally processed by Accounts Receivable within a three-week time period. If additional documents are required to complete the process, it depends on when the documents are received (requested via Western Michigan University email). If approved, and you have financial aid or other awards, those departments (i.e. financial aid, Graduate College, athletics, international office) will review your awards to determine it any adjustments are required. Please allow an additional three weeks from the initial approval for the entire process to be completed and your account to be adjusted. In general, a reasonable time period to completely process an application is one to six weeks for the fall semester.


Can I turn in my application earlier than the submission dates listed?

Generally speaking, the applications are processed according to the indicated submission dates. If the application is turned in too early it will either be returned to student for later processing or held until processing begins. This would depend on the actual date received and the student's individual circumstances.


What do I do about paying my tuition when I am waiting for a response on my request to change my residency status?

You must pay at least the in-state portion of tuition while your application for a change in residency status is being processed. By making a quick call to Accounts Receivable at (269) 387-4141, the staff will tell you the amount owed at the in-state rate.


Can I apply for a change in residency status while I’m in the process of getting my green card?

No. You must have your green card (permanent visa) in your possession at the time of application. Your status as a "guest" in the United States remains in effect until you have your green card.


Once granted residency status do I need to complete this form each semester I am enrolled to maintain my residency status?

No. As long as you continue to attend Western Michigan University during the fall and spring semesters making forward progress on your degree, your status as a resident for tuition-paying purposes will remain in place. If your enrollment is interrupted for whatever reason and it results in the submission of an application for readmission, it is at that time that your status will be reassessed. Also, if you go from undergraduate to graduate, your status will be re-evaluated at that time as well.


Can I work at home, which is out of Michigan, during the summer or holidays and still qualify for resident status?

No. If you return to your home state and work there, it is evidence that you have not given up your previous domicile. The same applies for taking classes in your home state at any time that Western Michigan University is holding classes.


Would doing odd jobs around the property for my relatives who live in Michigan be considered being working if I am paid in cash or given room and board for the work I am doing?

This type of work is very hard to verify. However, if you are paid in cash or by room and board, proving physical presence in Michigan could be accomplished by showing your monthly in-person financial activity (ATM, debit, credit card) statements for the time period in question. In that situation, the activity would need to show consistent and continuous activity in Michigan during that time period in question.

For our purposes the type of work acceptable would be where taxes are taken out of each paycheck and a 1099 or W2 form is issued at year-end for filing taxes in the state of Michigan. Pay history or pay check stubs can be supplied as verification.


Would being enrolled in online classes qualify as enrollment for obtaining residency classification?

No. Enrolling only in online classes is not acceptable. Online classes can be taken from anywhere. However, enrolling in online and on-campus classes in the same semester or session is definitely acceptable.


Can I do study abroad and still get residency?

As long as the study abroad program is sponsored by Western Michigan University or another Michigan school program and credit is given, it is acceptable as on-campus enrollment. If a lengthy stay out of country prior to or following classes is taken, the additional stay is questionable and measured on time period out of state because it is not part of the required program.


I’ve taken classes through continuing education (Extended University Programs) and have never paid out-of-state tuition. Now I am being assessed as an out-of-state student. Why?

If you entered Western Michigan University as a student coming in from an out-of-state school through Extended University Programs and listed a program of study, your residency status was probably listed as a non-resident. Extended University Program classes are charged at one rate. Now that you are taking classes on the main campus, your status as a non-resident student goes into effect unless you complete a form to change your status. You must provide verification of being physically present in Michigan for 12 consecutive months before the semester or session begins as with all other students.


Can I base my claim on my parent who lives in Michigan, even though I’ve been living with other parent in a different state?

That is very possible. It would require showing that your parent in Michigan meets our domicile policy (employment records, tax records, your birth certificate if not claimed on taxes, and, if this is a divorce situation, then possibly the settlement agreement that deals with custody of children).


I was admitted as a resident student, but my family is now moving out of Michigan. Will my status change?

Your status as a resident student will remain as such provided you continue to take classes during the fall and spring semesters each year and progress toward your intended degree. If at any time you need to reapply for admission for whatever reason, your residency status would be re-evaluated at that time.


My family has owned property in Michigan for many years. If I live at their Michigan residence during May, June, July and August, can I get residency for the fall semester?

While you may live at the Michigan residence, you must also provide evidence of your physical presence by other means since a living arrangement such as this by itself (as well as a lease agreement, or even owning property) does not qualify as meeting the physical presence requirement of our policy. Evidence of physical presence is verified by school attendance and work and, if necessary, monthly in-person financial activity transaction statements (ATM, debit, credit card).


I’ve never lived out of Michigan, but I’ve been classified as a non-resident student. How can that be changed?

The first thing to do is contact Accounts Receivable at (269) 387-4141 and ask for the residency application processor. The processor will need to check to see how the status was determined at the time of admission. If a processing error was made, correction in status will be made by Western Michigan University admissions staff.

If the non-resident status was determined by information provided by the student on their admission application, the student must complete a residency application and it will be processed accordingly.


I have always lived in Michigan. After high school graduation I attended an out-of-state school and didn't like it. Will I be a Michigan resident if I want to attend WMU?

If you attended the out of state school for one academic year or less and returned to Michigan as soon as school ended, you would still qualify for resident status. Should you be admitted as a non-resident due to transfer credits from the out of state school, please call Accounts Receivable at (269) 387-4141 and ask for the residency application processor.

If you attended the out of state school for longer than one academic year, you may be eligible for resident tuition based on your parents being Michigan residents. This would require completion of a residency application form. You would include the required documents showing your parents meet the residency qualifications of our policy and you are claimed as their dependent on their taxes.


I have always lived in Michigan and graduated from a Michigan high school. I took online classes at an out-of-state school and want to know whether or not I will be classified as a resident or non-resident for tuition-paying purposes.

You will automatically be classified as a non-resident student. Transcripts do not indicate whether or not classes are online or on campus. If your attendance at the out-of-state school extends beyond one academic year, then you must go through the residency application process. If your attendance was no more than one academic year, you may not need to complete the form.


How do I answer Question 8: State of Legal Residence on my application?



My parents and grandparents graduated from Western Michigan University. Even though I live out of state, is there any special provision for dependents of Western alumni?

The University does not have a program that allows dependents of alums to be given residency status if they are out-of-state students.


Does Western Michigan University have a reciprocal arrangement with any other states for residency, like those that border Michigan?

Yes. Beginning in the Fall 2016, new undergraduate students majoring in the College of Aviation and enrolling from these eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, may be able to attend WMU at a reduced tuition rate.

More information regarding the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) can be found on our website.

Other than the new MESP program noted above, Western Michigan University does not have any type of reciprocal agreement with other states for residency for tuition-paying purposes.


Can my parents still claim me on their taxes?

This change in status is for tuition-paying purposes at Western Michigan University only. This would be a question for your tax accountant.


Even if I work, I won’t make enough money to require filing taxes. Do I have to file taxes?

You should always file taxes regardless of income level, as it will confirm that you have paid taxes to the state of Michigan and your state tax dollars support Michigan higher education.


What can I do if my application is denied?

Carefully read the email notice sent in the denial. A description of missing documents will be included as well as a detailed explanation of what else is needed for further consideration. Provide the requested documentation. 

If the second review response is also denied, then a formal appeal in writing is required and should include any special circumstances in your particular situation that you would like considered. If your appeal is denied, there is no further recourse on this application but to reapply for a future semester or session once all policy stipulations have been met.


It seems like you are asking for a lot of personal information. What if I don’t want to give it to you?

That is your choice; however, if there is not enough documentation to support evidence of meeting the domicile requirement of the policy, you will not be granted residency status for tuition-paying purposes.


I am a parent paying my student’s tuition. How can I get answers to specific question on my student’s residency application?

Accounts Receivable staff can discuss the residency application with you only if your student has authorized them to do so. A Release of Student Information is included with the residency application for this purpose. If this form is not submitted or your name is not included on it, discussions with anyone other than the student cannot take place according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.


What happens to my insurance (e.g., health, car) if I am approved for Michigan residency?

This change in residency status is strictly for tuition-paying purposes at Western Michigan University. These types of questions can be addressed by your insuring agents.


Do I only need one of the three—enrollment, employment or financial activity—to be considered for residency?

Our preference would be more than one. We need to see continuous and consistent Michigan presence and that is much easier verified via work and enrollment due to regular schedule. Financial activity, on the other hand, seems to lessen once enrolled or working. It can, however, work by itself if continuously and consistently used in Michigan.


I am a graduate student doing research for a Western Michigan University program, which requires me to be away from Michigan for part of the 12 consecutive months. Can I still qualify for residency?

Graduate students participating in research or scholarly activity for their WMU program that requires them to be away from Michigan for part of this time must submit a letter from their department chair or graduate advisor attesting to the fact that this activity advances their research and the discovery mission of the University. The letter must also include the dates required for this activity. It must be obtained in advance of the research or scholarly activity being completed and submitted with the residency application.

Examples of potential programs:

  • M.A. students in Medieval Studies commonly conduct research in Europe.
  • M.A. students in Anthropology may work with faculty on cultural anthropology projects in East Africa, Japan or Latin America.
  • M.S. or Ph.D. students in Biological Sciences may work with faculty on research projects in South America, Africa, Malaysia or California.
  • Master of International Development Administration students in political science may need to work on projects in other countries.


If I have questions, whom do I contact?

Phone: (269) 387-2366