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New Mexico State University
Office of the Registrar

New Mexico Residency for In-State Tuition Purposes

The rules and regulations for establishing residency for tuition purposes are defined by the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education which is authorized by the Constitution of the State of New Mexico and the state statutes (chapter 235, IE, NMSA, 1971 and section 21-1-4E NMSA 1978) for providing classification for a tuition differential between resident and nonresident students.

An individual must establish legal residency in New Mexico before he or she is entitled to pay in-state tuition rates. The requirements to establish residency for tuition purposes are independent from those of other types of residency such as voting or holding public office. A legal resident for tuition purposes is someone who meets the requirements set forth by this policy and described on this page.

These regulations for residency apply to all public post-secondary institutions in the State of New Mexico, including branches and community colleges.
Following are questions and answers that present the essence of the residency regulations and provide the information needed to establish residency for tuition purposes. The full policy is available at each institution.

Any questions or discrepancies concerning the information shown please defer to New Mexico Higher Education Department Residency Brochure.

1. Why are nonresident students at New Mexico's educational institutions charged higher tuition than resident students?
2. What is required for residency for tuition purposes?
3. When is a student's residency status determined?
4. How is a minor student's residency status determined?  
5. Can a minor establish residency separate from that of his parents or legal guardian?
6. What is the residence of a student who becomes eighteen after he/she has enrolled in a university or college?
7. How does a person establish New Mexico residency?
8. How is the residence status determined for parents or legal guardian when the student's classification depends upon the parents' or guardian's residence?
9. Are there any exceptions to the residency regulations for adults?
10. Are there any programs that have special restrictions concerning residency eligibility?
11. What is the resident status of immigrants, refugees and international students?
12. What procedure should be followed in petitioning for resident status?
13. Must all requirements be met before the commencement of the semester for which a change of residency status is petitioned in order to qualify for resident tuition for that semester?
14. Is there a deadline for petitions for resident tuition classification for a semester which has officially begun?
15. On first applying for admission to a New Mexico educational institution or while awaiting the result of a petition for residence status, should a student pay tuition at resident or nonresident rates?
16. If a student fails to petition for residency and continues to pay nonresident tuition after he/she is eligible for a change of status, may he/she receive the difference between nonresident and resident tuition retroactive to the date of actual eligibility?
17. What happens after the petition requesting a change to resident status is submitted to the appropriate university or college office?
18. If a student's petition for residency is denied, does he/she have any recourse?
19. If a student is denied residency and is unable to meet the residency requirements, may he/she petition for change of status again?
20. Can a student who is classified as a resident lose resident status and be reclassified as nonresident?


1. Why are nonresident students at New Mexico's educational institutions charged higher tuition than resident students?

New Mexico institutions of higher education are supported by the General Fund of the State of New Mexico. Since nonresident students (and their families) generally have not contributed to the support of public education in New Mexico, they are required to pay additional tuition which more closely represents the actual cost of their education.
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2. What is required for residency for tuition purposes?

In general a financially independent adult person over 18 years of age must have resided in New Mexico for a period of twelve consecutive months immediately prior to the term for which the petition is being filed. Furthermore, "residency" in this context means legal "residence." Legal residence requires intent to remain in a place indefinitely, in the sense of making one's permanent home there, as well as physical presence at the place. The distinction is that one may have any number of residences at one time, but never more than one legal residence.
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3. When is a student's residency status determined?

The Admissions Office at each institution determines each student's residency status when the completed application for admission is received and processed. The decision is based on the information contained in the application for admission, transcripts, and other documents required for admission. The residence status determined at this time remains in effect until the student either (1) fulfills the requirements for residency and petitions for resident tuition classification or (2) loses residency by his/her absence from New Mexico or intends to become a resident of another state.
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4. How is a minor student's residency status determined?

In New Mexico eighteen is, for most purposes, the age of majority. Persons under the age of eighteen are considered minors under the law. A minor's residence is presumed to be the same as his/her parents' or legal guardian's. The residence decision for students under eighteen is based upon the legal residence of the parents or legal guardian. In the event that a noncustodial parent is a legal resident of New Mexico the minor student will be classified as a resident.
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5. Can a minor establish residency separate from that of his parents or legal guardian?

Not usually. With the sole exception of automatic legal emancipation upon marriage, a minor is presumed to share his parents' or legal guardian's residence, unless the minor presents to the appropriate institutional official written evidence sufficient to justify (as conclusion of law) a finding of the minor's emancipation. What this means is you must be 18 to begin to establish residency apart from your parents or guardian.
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6. What is the residence of a student who becomes eighteen after he/she has enrolled in a university or college?

Because of the presumption that a minor shares his/her parents' or legal guardian's residence and because of the twelve month physical presence requirement, the eighteen-year old student's residence is the same as the parent's until the student's nineteenth birthday.
Upon the student's nineteenth birthday, the student is eligible to have established his/her separate legal residence. A nonresident student may then petition for residency based on his/her compliance with the residency regulations.
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7. How does a person establish New Mexico residency?

To become a legal resident of New Mexico for tuition purposes, four basic requirements must be completed. Each person must meet the requirements individually.

  1. The Twelve Month Consecutive Presence Requirement. A person must physically reside in the state for twelve consecutive months immediately preceeding the term for which the resident classification is requested. NOTE: A student cannot begin to complete the twelve-month requirement until his/her eighteenth birthday.
  2. The Financial Independence Requirement. Only persons who are financially independent may establish residency apart from parents or guardians regardless of age. A student cannot be approved for residency who is financially dependent upon his/her parents or legal guardians who are nonresidents of New Mexico. Dependency will be determined according to the 1954 Internal Revenue Service Code, Section 152 and is always based on the previous tax year for residency purposes. If under the age of 23 at the time the student applies for residency, a copy of their parents' or guardian's 1040 or 1040A U.S. income tax form for the previous tax year is required. If the student is shown to be a dependent on this tax form, he/she will not be considered financially independent or eligible for residency during the current year.
  3. The Written Declaration of "Intent" Requirement. The student must sign a written declaration of intent to relinquish residency in any other state and to establish it in New Mexico.
  4. The Overt Acts Requirement. New Mexico requires the completion of several "overt" acts which support the student's written declaration of "intent" to become a permanent resident. The required Overt Acts are evidence of any of the two of the following:
    1. If the applicant is financially dependent, a copy of the parents' or guardians' previous year tax income form showing the applicant as a dependent and the parents' address as New Mexico;
    2. A New Mexico high school transcript issued in the past year confirming attendance at a New Mexico public or private high school within the past 12 months;
    3. A transcript from an online high school showing a New Mexico address confirming attendance within the past 12 months;
    4. A New Mexico driver's license or ID card with an original date of issue or a renewal date issues prior to the application date for admission;
    5. Proof of payment of New Mexico state income tax for the previous year;
    6. Evidence of employment within the state of New Mexico;
    7. New Mexico vehicle registration;
    8. Voter registration in New Mexico;
    9. A bank account established in New Mexico prior to the application date for admission;
    10. Proof of residential property ownership in New Mexico;
    11. A rental agreement within New Mexico;
    12. Utility bills showing the applicant name and a New Mexico address;
    13. Other evidence which would reasonably support the individual's intent to establish and maintain New Mexico residency.

    However, any act considered inconsistent with being a New Mexico resident will cause the request for resident classification to be denied
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    8. How is the residence status determined for parents or legal guardian when the student's classification depends upon the parents' or guardian's residence?
    The residence status of parents or guardians for minors and students financially dependent on parents or guardians is determined according to the same requirements as outlined for individuals (see #7).
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    9. Are there any exceptions to the residency regulation?
    Yes, provisions have been made for some special groups of people.

    1. Federal service employees and military personnel who were legal residents of New Mexico prior to entering federal service or the armed forces may retain their New Mexico residency while assigned out of the state so long as they take no action inconsistent with legal residence in New Mexico. Examples of such inconsistent actions are voting in another state, remaining outside New Mexico for an unreasonable time after separation from government service, or establishing another residence.
    2. Non-resident members of the armed forces of the United States while stationed on active duty within New Mexico, their spouses and dependent children are exempt from non-resident tuition by statute. A spouse or child of an active member of the armed forces who is assigned to duty elsewhere immediately following assignment to duty in New Mexico shall be deemed an in-state resident for purposes of determining tuition and fees at all state institutions of higher learning as long as the spouse or child resides continuously in New Mexico. A spouse or child of an active member of the armed forces who dies or is killed shall be deemed an instate resident for purposes of determining tuition and fees at all state institutions of higher learning if the spouse or child becomes a resident of New Mexico within 60 days of the date of death. A certification form must be submitted when the student initially enrolls for this waiver. This waiver of non-resident tuition remains in effect for as long as the student enrolls continuously at the same institution.
    3. Active participating members of the New Mexico National Guard shall be deemed in-state residents for in-state tuition rates. An active member of the National Guard and the member's spouse and children shall be deemed in-state residents for purposes of determining tuition and fees at all state institutions of higher learning.
    4. Part-time students enrolling for six hours or less during a regular semester may be charged resident tuition rates according to the institution's tuition policy.
    5. Assessment of non-resident tuition is made for summer session attendance according to the institution's tuition policy.
    6. The spouse and dependent children of a person who has moved to New Mexico and has obtained permanent full-time employment (sufficient documentation is required) shall not be required to complete the 12 month durational requirement. However, all other requirements must be satisfied.
    7. Persons, their spouses and dependents who move to New Mexico for retirement purposes and who provide appropriate evidence of formal retirement shall not be required to complete the 12 month durational requirement. They must, however, satisfy the other requirements of residency.
    8. An individual married to a legal resident of New Mexico and providing appropriate evidence of marriage shall not be required to complete the 12 month durational requirement but must satisfy all other requirements.
    9. For the purpose of tuition payment and budget and revenue calculations, "resident student" includes a member of an Indian nation, tribe or pueblo located wholly or partially in New Mexico, regardless of the residence of the member prior to acceptance at a post-secondary educational institution enumerated in Article 12, Section 11 of the Constitution of New Mexico for either undergraduate or post-graduate enrollment.
    10. Certain residents of Texas may be eligible for in-state tuition.
    11. Any student receiving a state-funded athletic scholarship from a New Mexico public post-secondary educational institution.
    12. Any tuition rate or state-funded financial aid that is granted to residents of New Mexico shall also be granted on the same terms to all persons regardless of immigration status, who have attended a secondary educational institution in New Mexico for at least one year and who have either graduated from a New Mexico high school or received a general educational development certificate in New Mexico.
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    10. Are there any programs that have special restrictions concerning residency eligibility?

    Yes, students who participate in any of the following programs are ineligible to establish residency. Furthermore, such students may not begin to establish residency, i.e., satisfy the 12 month durational requirements, until after discontinuing from any of these programs.

    • Tuition Reciprocity
    • Competitive Scholarship
    • WICHE Student Exchange
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    11. What is the resident status of immigrants, refugees and international students?


    1. Non-citizens of the United States who are lawfully in the United States and have obtained permanent status from the INS or noncitizens who serve on active duty in the armed forces of the United States, may establish residency by meeting the durational and intent requirements. Any noncitizen entering an institution of higher education on their visas (i.e. student, diplomatic, visitor or visiting scholar), including spouses, and dependents, shall be classified as nonresidents for tuition purposes.
    2. Non-citizens however are eligible for instate tuition without regard to their immigration status if they have met requirements as noted in Section L of Question 9 in this brochure.
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    12. What procedure should be followed in petitioning for resident status?

    A nonresident student who feels he/she has satisfied the residency requirements may obtain a "Petition for Resident Tuition Classification" from the appropriate institutional office. The form should be completed in detail and returned to the appropriate office, along with a copy of his/her parents' or guardian's 1040 or 1040A U.S. income tax form, if the student is under 23 years old.

    A change in residency classification is never automatic and it is always the student's responsibility to initiate the petition.
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    13. Must all requirements be met before the commencement of the semester for which a change of residency status is petitioned in order to qualify for resident tuition for that semester?

    Yes petitions for resident status will not be approved unless all requirements are met before the first day of classes for that term.
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    14. Is there a deadline for petitions for resident tuition classification for a semester which has officially begun?

    While the requirements for residency must be completed before the first day of classes or the institution's census date, if different, the deadline for any petition for resident tuition classification applicable to a current semester is twenty-one (21) calendar days after the first day of classes (i.e., the date the semester officially begins). A petition received after that date will not be considered. Another petition must be filed for any subsequent semester.
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    15. On first applying for admission to a New Mexico educational institution or while awaiting the result of a petition for residence status, should a student pay tuition at resident or nonresident rates?

    Until officially classified as a resident, the student must proceed as a nonresident. Tuition and fees must be paid on time at the nonresident rate.
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    16. If a student fails to petition for residency and continues to be charged at, and/or pay non-resident tuition after he/she is eligible for a change of status, may he/she receive the difference between non-resident and resident tuition retroactive to the date of actual eligibility?

    No. It is the student's reponsibility to petition for a change of resident status when he/she feels the requirements have been met. If the student does not petition for a change of resident status and continues to pay nonresident tuition, he/she waives any right to recover the difference.
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    17. What happens after the petition requesting a change to resident status is submitted to the appropriate university or college office?

    The petition is reviewed and a decision is made as quickly as possible. Normally the student will be notified of the decision within a few days. A student may be requested to supply additional information or to explain apparent inconsistencies before a final decision is reached.
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    18. If a student's petition for residency is denied, does he/she have any recourse?

    When residency is denied, the student is notified by a letter stating "petition denied because requirements, as outlined in this brochure, were not met." The student may amend his/her petition with additional information in support of his/her cause. Amended petitions are reviewed by the same standards as original petitions. If the amended petition is denied, the student may appeal to the institution's board of appeals for residency. The appeals board shall be the student's last recourse prior to the courts.
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    19. If a student is denied residency and is unable to meet the residency requirements, may he/she petition for change of status again?

    If a student has reason to believe that he/she has satisfied the residency requirements at some later time, he/she my reapply for residency.
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    20. Can a student who is classified as a resident lose resident status and be reclassified as nonresident?

    A student can lose resident status by 1) acting to establish legal residence in another state, or 2) a finding by the institution that resident status was granted on the basis of false or misleading information.

    In the first situation, any resident student may forfeit resident status by acting in ways inconsistent with being a New Mexico resident (see Overt Acts, section 7-D) or by being absent from the state for twelve consecutive months. Intent and actions in support of intent are of greater importance than length of absence because of the principle that one does not surrender the old legal residence until new legal residence is acquired. For example, absences which are the result of attending out-of-state school or of active military service do not result in loss of residency so long as the person does not attempt to establish residency elsewhere.

    For further information or interpretation, contact the Admission's Office or Registrar's Office at the institution you plan to attend or are attending. Following are the post-secondary institutions for which these regulations apply:

    • Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute
    • Clovis Community College
    • Eastern New Mexico University
      • Roswell Branch
      • Ruidoso Center
    • Luna Vocational Technical Institute
    • Mesalands Community College
    • New Mexico Highlands University
    • New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
    • New Mexico Junior College
    • New Mexico Military Institute
    • New Mexico State University
      • Alamogordo Branch
      • Carlsbad Branch
      • Dona Ana Branch
      • Grants Branch
    • Northern New Mexico College
    • San Juan College
    • Santa Fe Community College
    • University of New Mexico
      • Gallup Branch
      • Los Alamos Branch
      • Valencia Branch
      • Taos Branch
    • Western New Mexico University

     

    * Non-resident members of the armed forces of the United States while stationed on active duty within New Mexico, their spouse and dependent children are exempt from non-resident tuition by statute. A Resident Tuition Application for Active Duty Military or New Mexico National Guard form must be submitted when the student initially enrolls for this waiver by census date.

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