Montana State University

Board of Regents’ Residency Policy Summary

Note: the following statements have been summarized from the original document, "Student Guide to Montana Residency Policy," as published by the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education. The student is encouraged to review the entire document, which may be obtained from the Board of Regents.

To print a summary of the policy and required documentation, or for more information, use these links:

A person who is considered a non-resident for tuition purposes may be reclassified as a resident when the following conditions have been met:

  1. A person must be physically present in Montana for 12 continuous months. A total of 30 days absence from the state is allowed during the 12-month period.

  2. The 12-month period does not begin until at least one act that clearly indicates the intent to become a Montana resident is taken. Physical presence in Montana alone will not serve to start this period. The legal starting action must occur in the preceding year, on or before the 15th class day of the term for which reclassification is requested. You are expected to act in a manner consistent with Montana residence, and do all those things required by law of a Montana resident.
    Sufficient acts to begin the period are:

    1. A Montana vehicle registration is obtained (Note: if you are employed, Montana law requires that you register any vehicle you own or operate, even if your name is not on the title, i.e. parent’s vehicle).
    2. A Montana driver's license is acquired.
    3. A Montana voter registration is acquired.
    4. A principal residence (house or mobile home) is purchased and a MT title obtained.
    5. A resident Montana income tax return is filed.
    6. Only if items a-e do not apply, an Affidavit of Intent can be filed.

An individual who is enrolled for more than half-time status at a post-secondary school during any semester that falls within the 12-month period is presumed to be present in the state primarily for educational purposes, and such periods will not generally be considered as part of the 12-month period of the policy. At Montana State University, 6 credits is considered half-time enrollment status for both undergraduate and graduate students

A person seeking resident status must demonstrate that as an independent person, he/she is at least 51% financially independent, and that he/she is not claimed as an exemption by a non-resident parent or legal guardian on federal income taxes, commencing with the tax year in which the 12-month period begins.

During the 12-month period and thereafter, an individual is expected to act in a manner consistent with Montana residency and do all those things required by law of any resident. Examples of inconsistent or contradictory actions are voting absentee ballot in another state, receiving financial benefits from another state based on residence, maintaining legal ties with another state, participation in an exchange program such as the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or National Student Exchange (NSE) that affect fee status, or receiving financial aid/scholarships based on residence other than Montana.

Special Circumstances and/or Exemptions to the Policy:
  • A minor or un-emancipated person may be considered a resident if:

    1. The student normally resides with a parent who is a resident of Montana,
    2. If the parent who takes the student as an exemption for federal income tax purposes, or supplies the majority of their financial support (51%), is a Montana resident.

  • A person who is absent from Montana in excess of a total of 30 days during the 12-month period is presumed to lack the necessary intent to acquire MT residency, and will remain classified as a non-resident. He/she may begin another 12-month period of continuous physical presence upon their return to Montana.
  • Time spent in prison or city/county jails does not satisfy the 12-month residency requirements unless the individual had taken acts to establish the intent to become a Montana resident prior to incarceration.
  • Members of the armed forces stationed in Montana on regular active duty, their spouse, and dependent children will be classified as residents during the tour of duty. This does not include service in the Montana National Guard and/or Reserve Units unless full-time, active duty status can be proven.
  • A person domiciled in Montana who is employed in a permanent, full-time job, his/her spouse, and dependent children are considered residents of Montana without fulfilling the 12-month period, if demonstrated proof can be provided that the primary purpose for the move to Montana was not education, and that all legal ties have been changed to Montana, i.e. driver’s licenses, vehicle and voter registrations, etc. This exemption to the 12-month period is based upon a permanent, full time job offer and acceptance of that offer prior to the individual’s move to Montana, or the submission of any Application for Admissions materials to a college or university in the state.
  • Any graduate of a Montana high school accredited by the Board of Public Education who is a citizen of the U.S. or a Permanent Resident Alien, who registers as any unit (college) of the Montana University System no later than the 4th fall term following the student’s high school graduation shall be eligible for in-state fee status for five years from the date of initial registration or until the achievement of a baccalaureate degree, whichever occurs first, provided that the individual attended the Montana high school for the entire senior year.
  • It is presumed that an individual who was formerly eligible for in-state fee status who has been absent from Montana for a period of 12 months or more, has abandoned in-state status. This presumption does not apply to individuals who can demonstrate that Montana residence was maintained during the absence, and no actions were taken in contradiction of the claim of Montana residence. Examples of such evidence would be: maintaining legal ties with Montana, i.e. driver’s license, voter registration/voting absentee ballot, vehicle registration, and the filing of full-year resident Montana income tax returns on all income earned. This presumption of non-residence does not apply to individuals who left the state solely for educational purposes or for military service, provided the individual did nothing to contradict Montana resident status. If contradictory actions are taken, the individual could lose Montana resident status for fee purposes immediately, e.g. employment in another state, legal ties changed to another state, and/or filing resident income tax returns in a state other than Montana.

To Petition for in-state classification of residency/fee status, a student must submit the Residency Questionnaire with appropriate documentation (see: Documentation to Accompany Residency Petition) by the prescribed deadlines. For further information on the residency policy, petition deadlines or questions on issues not described in this summary:

  • New undergraduate applicants or prospective students, contact Admissions at admissions@montana.edu, or call 406-994-6620.
  • New graduate applicants or prospective students, contact the College of Graduate Studies at 406-994-4145.
  • Continuing or returning former students contact the Registrars Office at registrar@montana.edu or call 406-994-6650.
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