Montana Residency Requirements

The Montana University System classifies all applicants for admission and students as either in-state or out-of-state. This classification affects admission decisions and fee determinations. The basic rules for making the classification are found in Board of Regents’ policy. It is important to bear in mind that each residency determination is based on the unique set of facts found in each individual’s case. If you have questions concerning your particular case, be sure to contact the unit to which you are applying for admission or at which you are already enrolled. Generally, the Admissions Office or the Registrar’s Office will be able to assist you.

Student Guide to Montana Residency Policy (PDF)
Residency Questionnaire w/instructions (PDF)

With certain exceptions, in order to be eligible for in-state status, a person must meet the required durational residency test identified in the residency policy. For students/applicants applying for certification as Montana residents for purposes of application to professional student exchange programs such as WICHE or WWAMI, the required time period is 24 months. For all other students/applicants, the required time period is 12 months. You will have to demonstrate a bona fide intent to become a Montana resident. The required durational residency period does not start until some act indicative of an intent to establish residency is taken. Mere presence in Montana will not serve to start this period. Sufficient acts to start the period include registration to vote, obtaining a Montana driver’s license, registration of a motor vehicle in Montana, purchase of a home in Montana, or filing of a resident Montana tax return. However, if a person is registered for more than one-half of a full-time credit load at any post-secondary school during the required durational time period, a rebuttable presumption is created that the person is in the state primarily for educational purposes and that period of time will not be considered as part of the required waiting period and will serve to interrupt any current waiting period unless the presumption is overcome.

Once the establishment period has commenced, you are expected to act in a manner consistent with Montana residency and to do all those things required by law of a Montana resident. Any actions inconsistent with or in contradiction of a claim of Montana residency may result in your classification as out-of-state. Examples of such inconsistent or contradictory actions are voting absentee in another state, participation in an exchange program affecting fee status, e.g. WUE or NSE, or receiving financial aid based on non-Montana residency (such as state specific financial aid from another state). In particular, a Montana driver’s license should be obtained within 60 days of the start of the establishment period, and any motor vehicle operated by a resident in Montana should be registered in Montana within 60 days of moving to the state. Close attention is paid to meeting the income tax filing requirements; all taxable income earned during the establishment period must be reported. The policy lists various acts that are consistent with a claim of Montana residency.

There are a series of presumptions with respect to residency. These presumptions assist the units in making residency decisions. If one of the presumptions is applicable to you, you will bear the burden of overcoming the presumption with clear and convincing evidence. To overcome the presumptions you will have to show significant acts beyond those often done by students. In general, it will be difficult to overcome a presumption of out-of-state status. If you are planning to be outside of Montana for more than 30 days during the applicable residency period, you should discuss the matter with the Admissions Office or the Registrar’s Office to determine how your absence will affect your residency status. Because each case is unique it is generally difficult to say precisely what acts will suffice to overcome a presumption.

In addition to acquiring in-state status based on residency, you may be eligible for in-state status based on one or more exceptions provided for in Regents’ policy. Because they are exceptions, these additional means of acquiring in-state status will be strictly construed. It is important to note that in-state status under an exception can be lost if you no longer meet the requirements for the exception to apply. Consequently, if you can also meet the requirements for in-state status based on meeting the applicable residency establishment period, it is to your advantage to be classified based on residency rather than on an exception.

All presently enrolled students have a classification, and all applicants for admission will be classified by the appropriate college, university, or program upon receipt of their applications. The initial classification can be appealed. Students are permitted to petition for reclassification at any time. In order to be eligible for in-state status for fee purposes at one of the System campuses, it is necessary to meet the requirements for such status on or before the fifteenth instructional day for the school term for which the status is sought. Reclassification is not automatic and will not occur unless the individual so petitions. It is your responsibility to meet any filing deadlines that are imposed by the appropriate System unit or program. All students should check with the appropriate unit or program to determine the time limits for filing. The appeal process is given in the Regents’ policy.

Eligibility for certification as a Montana resident for purposes of application to the professional student exchange programs such as WICHE or WWAMI requires applicants to meet the applicable residency requirements by the October 15th certification deadline the year prior to entering professional school.
The determination of your in-state or out-of-state status will be based on the residency questionnaire. You should carefully answer the questionnaire. Any incorrect or false responses may result in retroactive reclassification. If you believe there are factors in your case that will not be revealed by the responses called for by the questionnaire, you should feel free to provide a description of these factors. You should document your responses if you are seeking in-state status (i.e., supply photocopies of your driver’s license, voter registration, car registration, etc.).

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Montana University System • Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street • PO Box 203201 • Helena, MT 59620-3201 • 406-444-6570

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