The purpose of establishing residency is to become eligible for the rights and privileges of a particular state or country. In postsecondary education, a student must often establish residency in a particular state in order to take advantage of lower in-state tuition and state scholarships at colleges located within that state.
For the student who wants to attend a college out of state, establishing residency in the state where the college is located is often quite beneficial financially. The difference between tuition costs for in-state residents and out-of-state students can exceed $40,000 at some colleges, as of 2016. Additionally, some states offer tuition reductions for in-state students who meet certain academic requirements, but out-of-state students are not eligible for these grants.
Though residency requirements may vary by state, usually a student must live in a state for at least 12 months prior to the first day of classes at the college he wishes to attend. Some exceptions as of 2016 include Arkansas, which requires only six months, and Alaska, which requires 24 months. In addition, a student frequently must provide at least two documents indicating that he is a legal resident of the state. Such documents include a driver's license, proof of voter registration, past tax returns, evidence of secondary school attendance and Selective Service registration, all from the state in which the person seeks to establish residency.