November 27, 2000

Board of Regents Revises Residency Policy for USM Institutions

The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents today revised the USM residency policy in response to a recent Maryland Court of Appeals decision declaring that part of the policy violated Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Students' residency status determines whether they pay in-state or out-of-state tuition rates.

Under the prior USM policy, a student's residency status was determined by several factors indicating whether the student was a permanent resident of the State, including the source of the student's financial support. However, if a student was financially dependent upon a parent, spouse, or guardian, he or she paid tuition based upon that person's residency, without regard to the other factors. The Court of Appeals found that under the policy students who are "bona fide Maryland residents" could be automatically denied in-state status solely because of the source of their financial support. The Court stated that the policy's "absolute preclusion of in-state tuition status for any student whose primary monetary support comes from an out-of-state source, arbitrarily and irrationally discriminates against many bona fide Maryland residents in violation of the equal protection component of Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights." In a footnote to its decision, the Court said the source of a student's financial support could be considered as a factor in determining residency, but it could not act as an absolute bar when such support came from non-residents.

In response to the Court's decision, the Board today deleted the provision that automatically denied in-state status to students who are financially dependent on a non-resident parent, guardian, or spouse. Instead, the new policy denies in-state status to students who are "residing in the State of Maryland primarily for the purpose of attending an educational institution." Students are presumed to be in the State primarily to attend an educational institution if they (a) attended high school or resided outside of Maryland at the time they applied for admission, or (b) are not financially independent and are financially dependent upon a person who is a non-resident. However, the new policy allows such students to present evidence to rebut the presumption.

As under the prior policy, a student seeking in-state status must also meet the following conditions for a period of at least twelve (12) consecutive months immediately prior to and including the last date available to register for courses in the semester/term for which he or she seeks in-state status:

  1. Owns and continuously occupies or rents and continuously occupies living quarters in Maryland. There must exist a genuine deed or lease in the individual's name reflecting payments/rents and terms typical of those in the community at the time executed. Persons not having such a lease may submit an affidavit reflecting payments/rents and terms as well as the name and address of the person to whom payments are made which may be considered as meeting this condition. As an alternative to ownership or rental of living quarters in Maryland, a student may share living quarters in Maryland which are owned or rented and occupied by a parent, legal guardian, or spouse; and,

  2. Maintains within Maryland substantially all personal property; and,

  3. Pays Maryland income tax on all earned taxable income including all taxable income earned outside the State; and,

  4. Registers all owned motor vehicles in Maryland in accordance with Maryland law; and,

  5. Possesses a valid Maryland driver's license, if licensed, in accordance with Maryland law; and,

  6. Is registered in Maryland, if registered to vote; and,

  7. Receives no public assistance from a state other than the State of Maryland or from a city, county or municipal agency other than one in Maryland; and,

  8. Has a legal ability under Federal and Maryland law to live permanently without interruption in Maryland.

The revised policy will apply to all student residency classification decisions made on or after November 27, 2000.

Complete text of the
USM Policy for Student Residency Classification for Admission, Tuition and Charge-Differential Purposes


Francis Canavan
Phone: 301/445-2722