College of Law

Residency

Prospective students residing in states other than Tennessee frequently ask how they can be reclassified as a resident of Tennessee so they can be eligible for the in-state tuition rate. Residency classification involves the legal definition of “domicile” and is influenced by the status of a student as “dependent” or “independent” of his or her parents. State regulations guide public colleges and universities in applying rules to determine if students are classified as “in-state” or “out of state.” The residency classification of a student under the age of 24 and still in the care or custody of their parents is the same as the residency of the parent, and if even one parent lives in Tennessee, that student is classified as in-state. While professional students are considered independent of their parents for consideration for federal financial aid, prospective students seeking reclassification still must show that the move to Tennessee was not primarily for educational purposes.

The residency reclassification decision is based on clear and convincing evidence that the candidate has established himself or herself as a resident of Tennessee. Law students who have been successful in the reclassification process have established ties to the state of Tennessee through employment while in law school and during the summers between years of law school, taken steps to establish themselves as a professional in the community and in the legal community in the state, and demonstrated their intent to remain in the state after graduation. Additionally, students who have been reclassified have taken the steps citizens normally take when establishing domicile, such as changing one’s driver’s license and registering to vote in Tennessee.

If you are currently a resident of a state other than Tennessee and wish to be considered for classification as a Tennessee resident for tuition purposes, please complete and submit the Residency Reclassification Form (PDF) and provide a statement outlining the steps you have taken to establish domicile in Tennessee—along with any supporting documentation—and include any information that demonstrates your ties to the state.

Submit your completed form and additional materials via e-mail to Janet Hatcher at jhatche1@utk.edu or via USPS to:

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid
University of Tennessee College of Law
1505 W. Cumberland Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37996-1810

For more information, contact Janet Hatcher at jhatche1@utk.edu.

FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers to help prospective students understand how to interpret the university regulations and state law that guide the residency reclassification process.  Staff in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid is happy to work with you to understand how you might approach the reclassification process.

How is my residency classification determined when I apply to UT Law?
The admissions application requires you to designate a state of permanent residence and to provide a current address and permanent home address. You will list your state of residence when you take the LSAT. You will be asked to name the state of residence of both of your parents.  Your answers to these questions will be considered in the initial residency classification, which is made by the law admissions staff.  You will be asked to provide additional supporting information if your answers to these various items appear to be in conflict with each other.

I am currently classified as an in-state student by a college or university located in Tennessee.  Must I apply for classification in order to be considered as a resident of Tennessee by UT Law?
No additional application should be necessary if you clearly designate that Tennessee is your state of residence in your application for admission and on your CAS and LSAT registration materials.

I am a resident of another state but I am allowed to pay in-state tuition to a public institution in Tennessee. Will I be considered as a resident if I apply for admission to the law school at UT?
If you are part of an undergraduate honors, scholarship, or other program that provides this consideration, you are not automatically classified as a resident for tuition purposes in law school. However, you can certainly provide this information if you apply for reclassification as a prospective law student.  As a non-resident applicant, you will be considered for non-resident scholarship assistance by the College of Law.

I lived in Tennessee previously and left the state for a period of time.  How can I reestablish my residency in Tennessee?
If you attended college in another state but Tennessee remained your state of permanent residence, merely attending school out of state will not change your residency classification for law school at UT.  If you lived in the state of Tennessee for a significant period of your life, notify the law school when you apply for admission and for reclassification as a resident.

Are law students considered dependent or independent? How is this determined?
Tennessee law defines an “emancipated person” as someone who is no longer in the care, custody, and control of his parent.  If a student is considered dependent on his parents, the state of residency of the parent is the basis for residency classification.  If one parent lives in Tennessee, the dependent student can be classified as instate.  Under U.S. Department of Education regulations, the income of a parent of a law student is not considered in determining a student’s financial aid, and a student over the age of 24, who is married, who has legal dependents himself, or is a member of the military, is generally considered independent.  Professional school students are generally considered independent for the purposes of consideration for federal financial assistance and this information could be used when making the case that you have established Tennessee as your state of domicile. However, the candidate still bears the burden of showing that the move to Tennessee was not primarily for educational purposes. 

At the time I will apply for admission to the law school, I will be classified as a resident of another state.

a. What is the process to apply for reclassification as a resident?
Complete the application for reclassification and attach a supporting statement including ties to the state and any employment documentation or legal documents that support your case.

i. If I am not reclassified on my first attempt, can I apply for reclassification again?
Yes. You can apply each semester or when information changes to strengthen your case for reclassification, such as employment information for you or your spouse.

ii. If I am ultimately classified as a resident, is the reclassification retroactive to a previous application?
Yes. Classification as a resident is effective as of the date in which the reclassification was sought.  Reclassification must take place on or before the last day of regular registration for that semester for the resident fee structure to be in effect.

iii. Can I appeal a denial of my request for classification as a resident?
Yes. The university’s residency reclassification officer will review an appeal as outlined in the university’s residency classification guide.

b. Will I gain in state classification after I have lived in Tennessee and attended the law school for 12 months? Other public law schools tell me that reclassification can be expected after 12 months.
Reclassification is not automatic after residing in the state for  6 months, a year, or more.  However, if you meet the qualifications for reclassification, you do not have to wait for a defined period of time for reclassification to take effect.

c. What if I live in a county that borders Tennessee?
The University of Tennessee College of Law does not have a “border county” program allowing out of state students to pay instate tuition based on residency in another state adjacent to Tennessee.  If, however, you are admitted to another state institution on this basis, you are free to use this information as part of your statement of intent to establish your professional career and seek employment in the state of Tennessee.

d. If I am married and my spouse will be employed in Tennessee while I am a student, can I be classified as a resident for tuition purposes?
Candidates who are married with a spouse working in the state of Tennessee have often been successful in using this fact when applying for reclassification, as one step to show that the family is established as residents of Tennessee and that the move to the state was not a temporary move for the purpose of gaining educational opportunity.

e. What if I have family members who are graduates of the University of Tennessee or the UT College of Law?
While this information alone will not provide sufficient evidence for reclassification, the College of Law values this information when it is included in a statement of a rationale for the establishment of domicile in Tennessee.

f. What if I have relatives living in Tennessee?
While this information alone will not provide sufficient evidence for reclassification, the College of Law values this information when it is included in a statement of a rationale for the establishment of domicile in Tennessee.

i. Can I be reclassified if one of my parents lives in Tennessee? What if my parents are moving to Tennessee? What if my parents own property in Tennessee?
Professional school students are generally considered independent of their parents as outlined previously.  Applicants for reclassification may choose to include such information in a statement of a rationale for the establishment of domicile in Tennessee.

g. What if I am active duty military and not stationed in Tennessee?
Military personnel and their spouses stationed in Tennessee, who should be classified as out of state based on other provisions of the residency regulations, will remain classified as out of state but will not be required to pay out of state tuition. If your ‘Home of Record’ is Tennessee and you are currently active duty military stationed out of state or abroad, you or your dependents qualify for in-state classification for tuition purposes. Documentation showing this information would need to be provided to the residency classifier to receive this scholarship.  Separated or retired military whose ‘Home of Record’ is not Tennessee need to provide information, similar to other independent students, showing the move to Tennessee is for other reasons than attending the university.

h. What if I have been classified as an out of state student but feel I should be in state for tuition purposes?
Please consult with the residency reclassification officer for the College of Law, Janet Hatcher.

i. What if I am an international student or a non-U.S. citizen?
International students holding a temporary visa or student visa are not eligible for in-state classification for tuition purposes. Non  U.S. citizens who have the status of lawful permanent resident are eligible to be classified as instate if they meet all other requirements for instate classification as an independent person.

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