Documentation of physical presence is used to establish the fact that an individual has been physically residing in Wisconsin continuously during a specific period of time. Verifying physical presence in Wisconsin is only one of several criteria needed to qualify as a bona fide resident of Wisconsin, but meeting this verification requirement is important to confirm your eligibility for resident status. For a more complete list of criteria, see “What is Bona Fide Residency?” in the FAQ section.
Individuals should never submit unrequested documentation of physical presence. Residence Specialists in the Office of the Registrar will define if and when documentation of physical presence is required and will communicate that requirement to the student by email.
Each item of documentation must include your name, the date of presence, and the location of presence. Several of common examples are provided below along with some examples of unacceptable documentation. You are not limited to the examples and may provide other forms of documentation. However, Residence Specialists in the Office of the Registrar will need to verify whether the alternative type of documentation satisfies the review requirements. If you plan to submit documentation other than what is included on this list, you may want to speak with a Residence Specialist to discuss your documentation before collecting and submitting it. Residence Specialists will advise you to their best ability, although it is not always possible to confirm the acceptability of a document prior to seeing it. We understand that collecting documentation of physical presence may be difficult in some cases, but the University must include them in student records to support the student’s residence classification in the event of a residence audit.
In most cases, providing acceptable documentation of three to four days of presence per month will suffice (i.e. three to four documents), but it may sometimes be necessary to request additional documentation depending on individual circumstances.
For all documentation, please submit copies rather than originals. Electronic files are preferred over physical documentation when possible, but Residence Specialists will accept documents in both formats. Any hard copy document sent to our office will be securely disposed of after review and will not be returned to you.
Please submit electronic documentation by email. If you use a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Microsoft One Drive, etc., you must make sure that Residence Specialists can access the files by clicking the link only. The ResidenceForTuition@registrar.wisc.edu email account does not have accounts with Google, Microsoft, etc., and cannot register accounts with these services. If Residence Specialists cannot access the files by clicking the link only, the documents will be treated as unsubmitted. In most cases, it is simplest to attach files as standard email attachments in a reply to the information request.
Appropriate documents include:
- Banking or debit statements showing ATM transactions or point-of-sale debit and credit transactions in Wisconsin. These statements must generally be in your name only, although in the case of spouses, we will accept documentation that is jointly held. We will not accept joint statements in cases where the individuals are not married (including statements held jointly with a parent or child), or statements that are held solely in another individual’s name. Please submit the full statement for each month. We do not accept screenshots of purchase histories. The statement must show all identifying information, although card numbers, transaction amounts, and balances may be redacted.
- Monthly billing statements from utilities or other businesses. These must be the monthly statement and must include the component showing the mailing address in addition to the main statement. We do not accept documents with the mailing address removed or aggregated bill summaries covering multiple months.
- Verification of, and/or bills from doctor or dentist appointments in Wisconsin.
- Documentation of volunteer work or involvement in community activities in Wisconsin. (e.g.: an original letter from a Volunteer Coordinator on official letterhead). A letter demonstrating volunteering/involvement should specify the date range that the individual has been involved and indicate specific dates of participation or the frequency of participation.
- List of visits to health club/fitness center (must be on letterhead, show the name of the member who checked in, check-in dates, and location (including city and state) of facility). If the fitness club cannot produce the document on letterhead, a staff member from the club should write a brief letter verifying that the document was produced by the club and should include a copy of their business card.
- Canceled checks you wrote to local businesses or credit card receipts you signed with charges to local businesses. We only accept cancelled checks as they appear on monthly banking statements. The signature must be legible, and we must be able to identify the Wisconsin business that you provided the check to for payment. We do not accept voided checks.
- Envelopes (excluding window envelopes) addressed to you at your Wisconsin address with a legible postmark. We cannot accept envelopes (or other mailed items) that do not clearly list the shipment date, such as magazines or packages that don’t have human readable postmarks. We do not accept window envelopes because we can’t confirm that the contents inside correspond to the postmark; however, we can often accept the mailed documents inside the window envelopes as evidence of physical presence.
- Shipping receipts from online purchases. These should be the shipping, not billing, receipts, as it is required that we see the shipping address and ship date in addition to the individual’s name. Websites like Amazon allow customers to download shipping receipts for very long periods of time after their initial purchase and shipment.
- Pay stub/pay slips showing your name, the paycheck date, and your Wisconsin address. All three items must be clearly visible for these items to be acceptable.
Unacceptable documents include:
- Any document, regardless of type, that does not include the individual’s name.
- Duplicate checks or voided checks: These do not show the original signature or, in the case of voided checks, were not used for payment. Only canceled checks are acceptable.
- A lease: This does not attest to one’s physical occupancy during the dates in question.
- Letters written on your behalf from friends and relatives. Only letters written by impartial individuals are acceptable.
- Documents that include more than one person’s name, such as a utility bill or letter sent to two individuals, or a credit/debit statement held jointly by multiple individuals. We may accept joint documents from individuals if the other person on the account is their legal spouse. In most other instances, we will not accept joint documents. However, if you share a joint credit/debit account with someone who is not your spouse and the statements have a method of identifying who made specific purchases on that account, feel free to contact a residence counselor for further guidance, as we may be able to accept the documents under certain circumstances.
- Envelopes that do not bear a clearly dated postmark or window envelopes.
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How will the Office of the Registrar communicate with me about my residence status?
All students claim Wisconsin Resident or Wisconsin Nonresident status for tuition purposes when submitting their admissions application materials. Students generally must complete a residence application, which may be in the admissions application itself or a stand-alone application. Even nonresident students must complete this application by claiming “no” to resident status. These applications are the initial communication students will send to the Office of the Registrar about their residence for tuition status.
If you claim resident status for tuition purposes, you may receive communications from the UW-Madison Office of the Registrar requesting additional information, clarification, or documentation. This is very common, and residence reviews are often concluded quickly. However, because Wisconsin’s Residence for Tuition Law has a complicated set of exemptions from nonresident status and qualifying criteria for bona fide residency, sometimes residency communications will have a large number of questions, or the Office of the Registrar may send multiple emails to collect new information as we learn more about an individual’s residence circumstances.
The Office of the Registrar generally contacts students by email using the preferred email address listed in their account. While the focus of the residence review may be on the student or the student’s parent, all communications are sent directly to the student or student applicant. It is not possible to send review communications directly to parents.
Residence Specialists use the ResidenceForTuition@registrar.wisc.edu email address to request information and documentation, respond to questions, and confirm residence statuses and other information. If you receive residence for tuition information requests from emails other than the one listed here, contact a Residence Specialist at (608) 262-1355 before responding back to the email so that you can confirm whether this email came from the University or not.
If you have any questions about your residence for tuition status, feel free to contact a Residence Specialist using either of the contact methods noted in the previous paragraph.
What is Bona Fide Residency?
There are many forms of residency under Wisconsin law, and these forms of residency may all have distinct criteria. For example, the criteria to file taxes as a Wisconsin resident will be different from the criteria to register to vote in Wisconsin or to obtain a Wisconsin driver’s license.
A unique form of residency is listed in Wisconsin’s Residence for Tuition Law. Labeled as “bona fide” residency, this is a type of residence that applies specifically to residence for tuition determinations at the University of Wisconsin System which are made under a specific subset of exemptions from nonresident tuition status. Generally, this subset of exemptions requires the student or the student’s parent to qualify as a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for the twelve-month period immediately prior to any term for which the student enrolls. In the vast majority of cases, an individual qualifies for resident tuition because the individual or the parent meets the bona fide residency criteria, so it is important to understand that criteria prior to making a residence claim. While there may be differing considerations about bona fide residency depending on whether students are verifying bona fide residency in their own right or the bona fide residency of a parent, which is most common for dependent students, the core criteria for bona fide residency is the same for all individuals:
- The individual must reside in WI for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the start of the semester. The Wisconsin home must be the full-time permanent home. People who own property in Wisconsin but split residence between Wisconsin and another state are generally not considered bona fide residents. Property ownership is not considered to be a significant factor in residence for tuition determinations.
- The individual must not have enrolled in any classes anywhere while attempting to establish residency. Anyone who resides in Wisconsin to obtain an education is presumed to be a nonresident of the state under the Residence for Tuition Law. This presumption raises automatically if the student enrolled in higher education courses in Wisconsin prior to fully establishing bona fide residency under the statutory conditions. In some circumstances, this restriction can be overcome, but only through a formal appeals process in which the individual has provided clear and convincing evidence that has persuaded the Nonresident Tuition Appeals Committee that the individual does not reside in Wisconsin for educational purposes. In most cases, individual must reside in Wisconsin without enrolling in higher education courses during the period that they are attempting to establish bona fide residency.
- The individual must be able to demonstrate physical presence in the state for the full twelve months period under review. While physical presence can sometimes be documented by employment in Wisconsin if the individual works for a Wisconsin-based employer at a brick-and-mortar place of employment outside of the home, some individuals who have been unemployed, self-employed, retired, working out of state, or working remotely during the period under review may need to provide documentation of their physical presence for all or a portion of the period under review, depending on their circumstances. You should not provide documentation of physical presence (or any other documentation) during a residence review unless it is specifically requested by the Office of the Registrar. View the Office of the Registrar’s webpage about documenting physical presence for more information.
- The individual must have all legal ties established in Wisconsin. The primary legal ties the Office of the Registrar considers are driver’s license, vehicle registration, voter registration, and filing of a Wisconsin state income tax return as a full-year resident. If you relocate to Wisconsin partway through the previous year and therefore file a part-year Wisconsin resident income tax return listing Wisconsin residency from the date of your relocation, that may be acceptable to establish bona fide residency depending on the date your tax residency began. In all subsequent years, individuals should file as full-year tax residents of Wisconsin. Individuals who work outside Wisconsin may be required to submit verification from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue confirming that they file their tax returns as Wisconsin residents.
- The individual must be a US citizen or have a visa that permits indefinite residence for the full 12 months required to establish residency and continuously afterward. For more information on the visa and immigration requirements associated with bona fide residency, see the FAQ question “What if I am not a citizen of the United States?”
- The individual must be fully self-supporting financially. The bona fide residence criteria list self-support as a significant factor in determinations of bona fide residency. Generally, a bona fide resident is not claimed as a tax dependent and is not financially supported by other individuals. This is one of the primary reasons why eligibility for resident tuition status is often verified through parents rather than through the student’s own information. In cases where an individual is financially supported by their spouse, that financial support will not be seen as a lack of self-support as long as the supporting spouse qualifies as a bona fide resident of Wisconsin.
In addition to the criteria noted above, the Residence for Tuition Law also notes that the intent to establish and maintain a permanent home in Wisconsin is a determinative factor. Therefore, it is essential that anyone claiming resident status on the basis of bona fide residency intends to reside in Wisconsin on a permanent basis. Individuals who live in state temporarily do not qualify as bona fide residents, even if they file taxes in Wisconsin, obtain a Wisconsin driver’s license, or meet other bona fide residency criteria.
It is also important to understand that not all exemptions from nonresident tuition status require bona fide residency, and not all students who qualify as residents for tuition purposes are bona fide residents. For example, one exemption from nonresident tuition under the Residence for Tuition Law provides resident status to individuals who serve in the Active-Duty military and who are stationed in the Wisconsin. In this case, the individual qualifies as a resident for tuition purposes, but not as a bona fide resident, since the individual may make a permanent home in a state other than Wisconsin and may meet none of the bona fide residency criteria.
To help reduce complexity, it is helpful to consider that there are two types of Wisconsin residency in residence for tuition reviews: Bona Fide Residency and Resident for Tuition Status. The Resident for Tuition status is the formal residence classification in a student’s account that grants the resident tuition rate. Bona Fide Residency is a set of criteria that an individual must meet in to gain access to some of the exemptions from nonresident tuition specified in the law. This distinction is important to understand because students who qualify for Resident for Tuition Status based on their parent’s bona fide residency may not have the ability to maintain that status if the parent leaves the state, since the students may not themselves meet the criteria for bona fide residency.
If you have any questions about bona fide residency or your personal residence circumstances, please contact a Residence Specialist at ResidenceForTuition@registrar.wisc.edu or (608) 262-1355.
What Does “Exemption from Nonresident Tuition” mean?
Residence for tuition purposes in Wisconsin is governed by a state law, Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2). Under that statute, “Residents” are individuals who are entitled to exemption from nonresident tuition specified by one of the eligibility provisions within the statute, while “Nonresidents” are individuals who do not qualify under any of the listed exemptions.
Because nonresident status is the default status and Wisconsin residents are “exempt from Nonresident tuition,” website content and communications from the Office of the Registrar often reference “exemption from nonresident tuition.” If you are designated as “exempt from nonresident tuition,” it does not mean that the Office of the Registrar has classified you as a nonresident with a tuition waiver. It is simply how Wisconsin residents are designated under the Residence for Tuition Law.
What if I am a graduate of a Wisconsin High School and I have parents who reside permanently in Wisconsin?
If you graduated from a Wisconsin high school and one or both of your parents have lived continuously as bona fide residents in Wisconsin for at least the twelve months prior to the beginning of any term for which you enroll at University of Wisconsin-Madison, or your last surviving parent was a bona fide resident of the State for the year before death, your classification is resident under Section (c) of Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2). There is no age limitation on claiming residence under this section of the Statute.
To claim legal Wisconsin residence for tuition purposes under the provisions of Section (c) of the Statute, you should check “yes” for the question on the application asking whether you claim Wisconsin residence, then complete the information requested regarding your high school, city, state and date of graduation, as well as the information about your parents’ residence. Your residence status will be determined by the Office of the Registrar at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
To qualify for resident status based on your parent’s bona fide residency, you will need to provide the Office of the Registrar with specific information about your parents residency. In many cases, it is often easiest to qualify for resident status based on a parent’s residency, so we recommend that all applicants provide their parent’s residence information when possible. This is the most common exemption from nonresident tuition used to determine residency at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What if I am claimed as a tax dependent of a parent and have a parent who resides in Wisconsin?
You may qualify as a resident in accordance with Section (a)(3) of the Statute if:
- one of your parents is a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for at least the twelve months prior to the beginning of any semester, and
- you are claimed as a tax dependent for Federal income tax purposes by one of your parents, and
- you will continue to be claimed as a dependent by one of your parents.
To qualify as a dependent of your parent, you do not need to be claimed as a dependent by the Wisconsin-living parent. However, you must be claimed by one of your parents (birth or adoptive parent, but not stepparent) for the most recent tax year at the time of review and for the following two tax years at least.
If your parent resides in Wisconsin and you do not, you do not need to list your home address in Wisconsin on your application, as your residence status will be reviewed entirely based on an assessment of your dependency and your parent’s bona fide residency.
If you meet the conditions described above, you should claim legal Wisconsin residence on your admission materials even if you do not live in Wisconsin. The Office of the Registrar will contact you to obtain additional information and documentation.
If your parent recently moved to Wisconsin less than one year prior to the start of your classes, you will not be considered under this section. However, if you are the dependent of a parent who moved to Wisconsin for full-time employment, it is possible that you may be considered under a different statute. See the next question for more information.
What if I am a minor under guardianship in this state?
A minor who is under guardianship in Wisconsin pursuant to ch. 48 or 880, Wisconsin Statutes, is entitled to exemption from nonresident tuition, provided the guardian has been officially appointed by a Judge of a Wisconsin court of record, and the guardian has been a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for at least the twelve-month period immediately prior to the minor’s enrollment at the University.
Guardianship must be court-ordered. Informal forms of guardianship, such as a notarized letter from the parent designating a guardian, will not be accepted. Students claiming residency under their legal guardian will always need to provide the guardianship court papers during their residence review. The Office of the Registrar will request this documentation along with any other necessary information by email.
To be considered for resident status through a guardian for a specific term, the student must be able to demonstrate court-ordered guardianship effective as of the first day of classes for that term.
Guardianship ends when a minor turns 18 years old. Therefore, it is rare to see a student qualify under a legal guardian throughout their full academic career at the University. Students whose residency is reviewed while still under guardianship will need to provide information demonstrating their intent to meet the eligibility criteria for bona fide residency upon turning 18 years old. Students who are currently 18 years old but who have been under legal guardianship within the year prior to their residence review will need to demonstrate that they qualified through a guardian while they were minors and that they have met the eligibility criteria for bona fide residency in their own right upon turning 18 years old.
What if I am a minor seeking resident status in my own right?
In some cases, it may be possible for a minor student to qualify for resident status without parent or guardian information. Minor status is designated for students who are under 18 years old on the first day of classes for any semester in which they enroll. Students who are minors at the time they submit their application for admission but who turn 18 years old on or before the first day of classes will not be considered as a minor for that term.
If you are a minor and have resided substantially during your years of minority (while under age 18) and for the full twelve-month period directly prior to your enrollment, you may be classified as a resident for tuition purposes in your own right. The criteria of “resided substantially” means that you have lived full-time in Wisconsin for at least half of your minor years, including the full year directly prior to your enrollment.
Once a minor turns 18 years old, they are no longer eligible to qualify under Section (a)(4) of the Residence for Tuition Law and must be able to transition meeting the eligibility criteria for bona fide residency or must be able to demonstrate eligibility through a parent who is a bona fide resident if the student is a dependent or graduated from a Wisconsin high school.
What if I or my parents or spouse recently moved to Wisconsin because of employment?
If you (or your spouse or parent) have moved to Wisconsin for full-time employment, you may be eligible for exemption for nonresident tuition. However, eligibility is contingent on the employment and admissions circumstances meeting a set of conditions. Most people who are employed in Wisconsin will not qualify under this exemption from nonresident tuition.
Section (cm) of Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2) allows the following persons–and their spouses and dependents–to qualify for exemption from nonresident tuition immediately upon moving to Wisconsin, without having to wait a twelve-month period to be eligible to be classified as a resident:
- Individuals who have been relocated to Wisconsin for employment purposes by their current employer and who remain continuously employed full-time in Wisconsin by that employer.
- Individuals who accepted their current full-time employment with a new employer before moving to Wisconsin and before the student files an application for admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, such individuals must have moved to Wisconsin for employment purposes and must have remained continuously employed full-time by that same employer since their arrival in order to continue to qualify under this section of the Statute.
Individuals assessed under this statute must have the intent to qualify as a bona fide resident. After the employed person has resided in Wisconsin for one year or more, they must be able to demonstrate eligibility as a bona fide resident, otherwise they will not qualify for resident status. Part of the eligibility criteria request that individuals who are not United States citizens must reside in this state on a visa that permits indefinite residence in the United States. For more information concerning visa eligibility, see “What if I am not a citizen of the United States” below.
Individuals who work remotely and may work anywhere in the United States as a result of that flexibility are not considered for resident status under this exemption, even if they change their work address and tax withholding with their employer. The employment must be based in Wisconsin, and if the employer does not have a formal location in Wisconsin, there must be a demonstrable business need that requires the employed person to reside in Wisconsin.
Individuals who have relocated to Wisconsin under the employment conditions noted above but who will not maintain continuous, full-time employment with the employer that brought them to Wisconsin will not be considered under this exemption. Those individuals may later be considered under Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2)(a)(1), the standard exemption for adult bona fide residents, after they have resided in Wisconsin for twelve consecutive months, as long as those individuals are not pursuing an education in Wisconsin during that twelve-month period.
What if I or my family leave Wisconsin?
Generally, moving away from Wisconsin terminates bona fide residency and eligibility for resident tuition status. Because resident classification for many individuals is contingent on their parent’s bona fide residency, individuals may also lose resident status if their parents relocate away from Wisconsin. However, there may be some exceptions to these general rules.
If you are a current student over age 18 and your parents have relocated outside of Wisconsin while you are enrolled, you may be able to maintain resident tuition status in your own right. After your parents have relocated to a new state, you should contact a Residence Specialist at ResidenceForTuition@registrar.wisc.edu or (608) 262-1355 to discuss your residence circumstances further. If it appears that you can claim resident status in your own right, the Residence Specialist will provide you with an affidavit to collect information about your and your parents’ circumstances, and you may use that affidavit confirm that you are maintaining resident status. You must be able to meet the eligibility criteria for bona fide residency in Wisconsin in your own right. Some major considerations to make are:
- You must maintain year-round residency in Wisconsin. It is not possible to maintain resident status if you live part of the year in a different state with your parents.
- You must maintain all of your legal ties (e.g. driver’s license, voter registration, tax filing) in Wisconsin. Changing them to a new state will invalidate your residence claim.
- You must be willing to take steps towards becoming financially self-supporting if you are not already. Dependent students are generally reviewed based on their parent’s residence status, so maintaining long-term dependency on parents who reside outside Wisconsin will invalidate your residence claim. However, for students whose parents have only recently left Wisconsin, the Office of the Registrar does not expect an overnight change to full self-support and will allow for time to transition to independence.
If you are an applicant and your parents relocate from Wisconsin during the twelve-month period prior to your enrollment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, you may be able to qualify for resident status if:
- You can demonstrate that you have qualified as an adult bona fide resident for the full twelve-month period prior to enrollment.
- You can demonstrate that you have qualified as a minor who resided in Wisconsin for at least half of their minor years and for the full twelve-month period prior to enrollment, and that you intend to meet the eligibility criteria for bona fide residency upon turning 18 years old.
- You are an adult student who was a minor for a part of the twelve-month period prior to your enrollment, and you demonstrate that you met the conditions of (2) above while a minor and the criteria for bona fide residency in Wisconsin since turning 18 years old.
Generally, if students are minors and their parents moved away from Wisconsin more than twelve-months prior to enrollment, they will not be able to qualify as residents for tuition purposes. If a student is a minor or an adult, if they move away with their parents (including during the summer prior to enrollment), they will not be able to claim resident status in their own right.
If you are a student at University of Wisconsin-Madison participating in a Year Abroad Program, or you will be employed at a temporary job (e.g. an internship) outside of the state for a period of time, and you choose to retain your residency, please contact the Office of the Registrar, Tuition Residency section regarding how you may maintain bona fide residence in Wisconsin while being temporarily out of the state. You may contact the Office of the Registrar, Tuition Residency section at 333 East Campus Mall #10101, Madison, WI 53715-1384; (608) 262-1355.
What if I am not a citizen of the United States?
In determinations of bona fide residency, individuals who are not United States citizens must be in possession of a visa that permits indefinite residence in the United States for the full twelve-month period under review, or they must have been approved as Permanent Residents of the United States for the full twelve-month period under review, or a combination of both. For example, if an individual resides in the United States on an acceptable H-1B visa for the first six months of that review period and then transitioned to Permanent Resident status for the second six months of that review period, the individual will meet the immigration status criterion for bona fide residency. Individuals must maintain a visa that permits indefinite residence in the United States during their period of enrollment. Those who transition to a non-eligible visa will lose their eligibility for resident tuition classification.
Visa types eligible to establish bona fide residency in Wisconsin include: A-1 to A-3, E-1 to E-3, G-1 to G-5, H-1B, H4, K-1 to K-4, L-1 to L-2, NATO-1 to NATO-7, O-1, O-3, P-1 to P-4 (but not a Personal Attendant or Personal Attendant’s Dependent), R-1 to R-2, S-5 to S-6, T-1 to T5, U-1 to U-5, and V-1 to V-3. Additionally, individuals with approved Asylum status or Refugee status will be considered to have an eligible visa beginning from the date of approval. Permanent Residents may be considered to have a visa that permits indefinite residence beginning from the date of receipt of their good-faith I-485 application to change or adjust status. Individuals on the visa types listed above are not required to affirm a domicile in their country of origin.
Visa types ineligible to establish bona fide residency in Wisconsin include: B-1 to B2, C-1 to C-2, D, F-1 to F-2, H-1B1, H-2A, H-2B, H-3, I-1 to I-2, J-1 to J-2, M-1 to M-2, O-2, P-1S to P-4S (Personal Attendant or Personal Attendant’s Dependent), Q-1 to Q-2, TN, TD. These visas require an individual to affirm a permanent and unrelinquishable domicile in another country, and the visa holder may not establish bona fide residency in Wisconsin under Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2)(e). Additionally, individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or other forms of deferred status, or who do not have a visa status, do not have visas that permit indefinite residence in the United States and cannot demonstrate eligibility for bona fide residency under the statute.
During a residence review, the Office of the Registrar will request visa documentation in support of residence for tuition claims.
What if I moved to Wisconsin as a refugee?
An exception to residing in Wisconsin for twelve months prior to enrollment applies if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You are a student on refugee status as defined under 8 USC 1101(a)(42), and
- You moved to Wisconsin immediately upon arrival in the United States, and
- You have resided in this State continuously since moving here.
If you are in this situation, you need to demonstrate intent to establish and maintain a permanent home in Wisconsin according to the criteria under Section (e) of Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2). You will be asked to provide documentation showing approval of your refugee status during the review of your eligibility for exemption from nonresident tuition.
What if I am (or my parent or spouse is) a member of the military or a veteran?
“Wisconsin Resident” Classification vs. Resident Tuition Rate
If a student (or the student’s parent or spouse) has served in the military, that service may impact the student’s tuition rate under certain conditions. However, military-related tuition adjustments are not always based on the student’s Residence for Tuition classification.
Since Residence for Tuition at UW-Madison is governed by a state law, only those individuals who qualify for exemption from nonresident tuition under that particular law are eligible as Wisconsin Residents for Tuition Purposes. However, it is possible for students to receive the resident tuition rate while formally enrolled as nonresidents if they receive certain federal veteran’s benefits while enrolled at UW-Madison. For example, nonresident students who use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to attend this University will be charged the resident tuition rate while they are using those benefits, but their formal classification will be “nonresident.”
Students who are not eligible for Wisconsin Resident classification should not claim Wisconsin resident status in this application. Instead, they should claim nonresident status and seek further guidance from our University Veteran Services office.
The information below details who may be eligible for formal Wisconsin Resident classification based on their (or their parent or spouse’s) military service. If you still have questions about how your military affiliation may impact your residence determination after you have reviewed this content, please contact a Residence Specialist in the Office of the Registrar at ResidenceForTuition@registrar.wisce.edu or (608) 262-1355.
Who qualifies for “Wisconsin Resident” Classification?
Individuals who are formally classified as Wisconsin Residents must qualify under one of the exemptions from nonresident tuition specified in Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2). The following individuals are granted formal Wisconsin Resident status due to their military context:
- Anyone who is stationed on Active Duty in the State of Wisconsin, as long as the individual remains stationed in Wisconsin. This exemption extends to the spouse and children of that person.
- Anyone who is stationed at a military installation located within 90 miles of the State of Wisconsin AND who resides in Wisconsin, as long as that individual remains stationed within 90 miles of Wisconsin and continues to reside in Wisconsin. This exemption extends to the spouse and children of that person.
- Anyone who served on Active Duty in the US Armed Forces for at least 10 years, who was honorably discharged from that service within the 4 years immediately prior to the student’s enrollment at this institution, and who filed Wisconsin state income tax returns for at least 8 of the last 10 years of active duty in the US Armed Forces. This exemption extends to the spouse and children of that person.
- Anyone who was a resident of Wisconsin at the time of entry into active duty, who resides in Wisconsin at the time they enroll at this institution, and who is a veteran as defined in Wisconsin Statutes 45.01(12). The individual must physically reside in this state before UW-Madison will grant a resident classification. This exemption does not extend to the spouse and children of that person.
- Important: review under this exemption requires that the student also apply for the Wisconsin GI Bill through the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (in addition to completing a UW-Madison residence application). You can find that application online or apply by phone using the following information:
- WI GI Bill Application: https://dva.wi.gov/Pages/onlineServices/OnlineServices.aspx;
- Phone: (608) 266-1311, or toll-free at 1-800-WIS-VETS (947-8387)
- Anyone who has served as a member of the Wisconsin National Guard or any US Military Reserves unit for the six-months directly prior to the beginning of a semester AND who has physically resided in Wisconsin for that same period. The student must maintain their enlistment during their enrollment period, or must document an honorable discharge or a discharge under honorable conditions to maintain eligibility. This exemption from nonresident status provides a limited form of residency which lasts for 128 credits or 8 semesters, whichever is more. This exemption does not extend to the spouse and children of that person.
All five of Wisconsin’s military exemptions will require additional documentation that will be requested during a residence review sometime after the student submits their residence application. To confirm eligibility under some statutes, the student must provide documentation from other agencies to certify veteran benefits.
Students who are currently serving on Active Duty outside of Wisconsin in the US Military may be eligible for resident tuition status under the standard adult exemption from nonresident tuition, Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2)(a)(1). To confirm eligibility, the student will need to demonstrate bona fide residency for at least the full 12-month period prior to their departure for military assignment, and demonstrate that they have maintained bona fide residence since leaving this state by maintaining Wisconsin resident tax filing, Wisconsin legal ties, and the intent to maintain a permanent home in Wisconsin.
Students who are claiming resident status through a parent who is currently serving on Active Duty outside of Wisconsin in the US Military may also be eligible for exemption from nonresident tuition under Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2)(a)(3) as long as the student is a dependent of a parent and the parent can demonstrate that they established bona fide residency for at least the full twelve-month period prior to their departure for military assignment, and can demonstrate that they have maintained bona fide residency since departure based on the conditions noted in the previous paragraph.
What should I do if I am a resident of Minnesota?
Minnesota residents are not classified as Wisconsin residents for tuition purposes, and they should not claim Wisconsin resident status on their application materials. However, they may be eligible for reduced tuition.
A tuition reciprocity agreement exists between Wisconsin and Minnesota. This agreement stipulates that residents of Minnesota can attend Wisconsin institutions in approved programs and be assessed the approved reciprocity tuition rate, plus segregated fees assessed all students. Students in the professional programs of the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, however, are not covered under the reciprocity program.
Minnesota residents must apply to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE) for verification of their eligibility for reciprocity. The University of Wisconsin-Madison does not certify eligibility for Minnesota Reciprocity status, and students will not be granted the Minnesota tuition rate simply based on a Minnesota home address.
The Minnesota Reciprocity Application becomes available for an upcoming academic year starting in March of the prior academic year. Students applying to enroll in the Fall term should wait until March before completing the reciprocity application. If the student intends to enroll in the academic year currently in progress, or if the student will change their initial semester of enrollment from the Fall term to the Summer term, they should complete the application for the current academic year. It is important that the student submits their application for the academic year that they will first enroll at the University, otherwise they may be assessed at the full nonresident tuition rate.
The deadline for filing an application in Minnesota is the last day of classes at University of Wisconsin-Madison in the term for which you wish to receive reciprocity status. A certification year runs from the beginning of the Fall term and extends through the end of the following Summer term.
Reciprocity will be automatically renewed for a subsequent academic year for students who met the following conditions during the previous academic year:
- The student enrolled for credit courses at University of Wisconsin-Madison,
- The student remained enrolled beyond the 100% adjustment period,
- The student paid reciprocity tuition.
Students need to reapply for reciprocity if they were not enrolled at all during an academic year, or if they were enrolled but did not take advantage of reciprocity tuition because of an assistantship or third-party payment contract.
At University of Wisconsin-Madison, students not certified prior to the date tuition is due must either pay at the nonresident rate and receive an appropriate refund upon certification by MOHE, or delay payment until certification is issued and pay an appropriate late payment fee.
Minnesota residents who wish to take advantage of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Tuition Reciprocity Agreement should apply for certification as a Minnesota resident to:
Minnesota Office of Higher Education
1450 Energy Park Drive, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55108-5227
(651) 642-0567 or 1-800-657-3866
Wisconsin residents who wish to take advantage of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Tuition Reciprocity Agreement should apply for certification as a Wisconsin resident to:
Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board Reciprocity Program
P.O. Box 7885
Madison, WI 53707-7885
Does the University of Wisconsin-Madison have tuition reciprocity with states other than Minnesota?
Students from states other than Minnesota are not eligible for reciprocal tuition rates. There is a tuition reciprocity agreement between the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin, which provides a unique tuition benefit for Minnesota students. There are no comparable agreements between Wisconsin and any other state. Nonresident students from other states are assessed at the full nonresident tuition rate.
What if I am a nonresident – will I ever become a resident?
Students who initially enroll as nonresident students generally maintain the nonresident tuition classification for the duration of their enrollment. Under Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2)(e), anyone who resides in Wisconsin principally for educational purposes is presumed to reside outside this state. Your enrollment in a Wisconsin institution of higher education prior to establishing bona fide residency in Wisconsin over a full twelve-month period will raise that legal presumption automatically. That presumption will remain in effect as long as you are enrolled continuously without taking at least one full year away from the pursuit of higher education and establishing your bona fide residency. This also means that students who enroll as nonresidents for their undergraduate education and then choose to enroll in a graduate or professional program without taking at least one year away from education will be classified as nonresidents for tuition purposes in the graduate or professional program as well.
It is possible to overcome the legal presumption that you reside in Wisconsin for educational purposes during a residence for tuition appeal. However, to be successful in an appeal, students must demonstrate that they have met all criteria for bona fide residency in Wisconsin for at least the full twelve-month period prior to the appeal, and they must also provide clear and convincing evidence demonstrating that they do not reside in Wisconsin to pursue an education.
If you believe that you have met the criteria for bona fide residency in Wisconsin for at least a full year and you can provide clear and convincing information demonstrating that you do not live in Wisconsin to pursue an education, you may wish to contact a Residence Specialist to discuss the possibility of appeal. Note, however, that there is only a limited window of appeal for each academic term, so make sure to contact a Residence Specialist well in advance of the semester for which you are considering an appeal.
If you are a nonresident student, and you believe you now should qualify as a Wisconsin resident because your parent made a full-time, permanent move to Wisconsin twelve months ago or more, and you are a dependent student, you should contact a Residence Specialist to discuss your circumstance further. Do not consider a residence appeal first, as that is likely not the correct process to request residency in this context.
What if I am a nonresident and take a year off of school?
If you are a current nonresident student, and you wish to discontinue your enrollment for a twelve-month period, it may be possible to establish bona fide resident during that period, but you must meet all eligibility criteria for bona fide residency during that time and you must continue to meet that criteria after you return. Importantly, bona fide residents must have the intent to establish and maintain a permanent home in Wisconsin, and they cannot reside in Wisconsin principally for educational purposes. Therefore, we do not recommend that students discontinue enrollment in pursuit of resident tuition status unless they intend to establish and maintain a permanent home in Wisconsin.
During the year or more in which you are not enrolled, you must demonstrate that you do not reside in Wisconsin for educational purposes. Therefore, if you choose to enroll at other educational institutions during that time, your enrollment will raise the legal presumption that you reside in Wisconsin for educational purposes, and you will be classified as a nonresident.
In addition to the restriction on enrollment, you must fulfill the criteria in Section (e) of Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2), including timely filing of a Wisconsin income tax return of a type only a full-year Wisconsin resident may file, voter registration, motor vehicle registration, possession of a Wisconsin operator’s license, place of employment, self-support, involvement in community activities, and physical presence in Wisconsin for at least 12 months before classes begin. Also, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you must be in possession of a visa that permits indefinite residence in the United States throughout the full period that you are attempting to establish bona fide residency.
If you believe you will qualify for resident status when you return to the University, make sure to claim “Yes” to legal Wisconsin residency when you are completing your application for readmission, even if the twelve-month period has not passed yet. This will alert the Office of the Registrar of your intent, and Residence Specialists will contact you seeking further information and clarification.
What if I am not a resident now, but will be before classes start?
Sometimes individuals relocate to Wisconsin and apply for admission to the University less than twelve months after their relocation, but they will have been living in Wisconsin for a full twelve-months or more before their classes start. In those cases, it is possible that students could qualify as a resident for tuition purposes, but not before they have fully met the eligibility criteria.
All students are required to claim resident or nonresident status when they submit an admissions application. If you believe you will fully establish bona fide residency in Wisconsin before the start of your classes, you should claim Wisconsin resident status on your application.
After the Office of the Registrar receives and reviews your application, a Residence Specialist will reach out to you by email to request additional information about your residence circumstance. One purpose for this initial review is to determine if you have been successfully meeting the eligibility criteria for bona fide residency in Wisconsin since you arrived in the state. Another purpose is to determine a specific date on which your bona fide residency began.
If it appears that you have been successful in meeting the bona fide residency eligibility criteria starting no later than one full year prior to when your classes begin, the Residence Specialist will conclude your review with a Nonresident status, but it will also provide you with instructions for seeking a follow-up review in the future. The date of that review is based on the Residence Specialist’s determination of when you began meeting the criteria for bona fide residency in Wisconsin. On or after the listed date, you will need to contact the Office of the Registrar with additional documentation that requests a new review. This secondary residence review will determine if you have continued to meet the eligibility criteria between the conclusion of your first review and the second review. If you have, you will be reclassified as a resident for tuition purposes at that time.
If the Residence Specialist determines that you have not met the eligibly criteria starting at least one full year prior to the start of your classes, you will be classified as a nonresident student without receiving instructions for a secondary review. This will be the final residence determination issued by the Office of the Registrar. If you wish to seek a reconsideration after that classification, you will need to file a formal appeal during the appropriate appeals window. Contact a Residence Specialist at ResidenceForTuition@registrar.wisc.edu or (608) 262-1355 before deciding to appeal to confirm that this is the correct process based on your circumstances.
If you relocate to Wisconsin and enroll in higher education classes before residing in state for a full twelve-month period, and you wish to claim resident tuition status, you should contact a Residence Specialist for further guidance before submitting any information or documentation.
How do I appeal my nonresident status?
If you are a nonresident student, and you believe you meet one of the exemptions from nonresident tuition specified under Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2), then you should contact a Residence Specialist to discuss your case further. In some cases, the Residence Specialist may be able to reassess your eligibility on the basis of new information that was not disclosed previously on your application or during your residence review, or on the basis of a change in circumstance, such as a dependent student’s parent relocating to Wisconsin twelve months ago or more.
If the Residence Specialist affirms your nonresident status during your consultation, and you believe you do meet one of the exemptions from nonresident tuition status specified in Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2), then you may choose to appeal your residence determination for any semester in which you are enrolled and there is an open window to submit an appeal.