The Commonwealth of Virginia has one of the best public university systems in the nation, with three national top-30 schools in Virginia Tech, William and Mary and University of Virginia(-Charlottesville), and several other schools like James Madison University and Virginia Commonwealth University that are nationally renowned within certain fields. Therefore, lots of people want to come to Virginia schools from out of state, and eventually realize they're getting screwed by paying out-of-state tuition rates.

Unfortunately for them, the rules make it darn near impossible (for a traditional student) to gain in-state status without your parents moving to Virginia as well.

Basically, until you are either:

your status is based on your parents' residency. You registering to vote in Virginia, paying Virginia income tax, etc., won't change this one bit. (The out that some students use is enlisting in the Virginia National Guard; this automatically gives in-state tuition.) If you can get through these tests, you determine your own status within the rules.

In-state tuition qualification is determined by the following:

  • if you hold a driver's license, it must be from Virginia
  • if you own a vehicle, it must be licensed and titled in Virginia
  • if registered to vote, it must be in Virginia
  • if you earn any income, you must pay Virginia income tax on it
  • you must have lived in Virginia for at least one year
IANAL, but to the best of my knowledge, if you (or your parents) are missing any of those qualifications, you're going to be stuck paying $12,600 a year (in 2000) for Virginia Tech tuition, instead of the $3,700 I'm paying as a native Richmonder.

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