In-State Tuition Residency Determination

On occasion, Foreign Service employees are confronted with an adverse residency determination from U.S. colleges and universities regarding in-state tuition. Most often, the institution will cite a prolonged absence from the declared state of residency as the reason for denying eligibility for in-state tuition. AFSA stands ready to assist in these cases, and we do so on a regular basis. While each case is different and depends on individual circumstances, the excerpts below stand as clear arguments in favor of in-state tuition determinations for Foreign Service dependents.

"For all foreign service diplomats serving overseas it is fact of life that they must, by regulation, designate a state of residence on entry into government service.  In the absence of a decision to change it, this state of residence will remain their state of residence throughout their foreign service career, which may last thirty years or more.  Their home leave address will be in this state of residence, they will pay taxes there, they will vote there, they will often own property there, and it is to this state that the Department of State will transport them, their family and their possessions when they retire from government service.  Under the Geneva Convention, these diplomats serving overseas are not considered "resident" in the country to which they are accredited.  On the contrary, the U. S. Government requires them to designate a state of residence in the United States, and it is a reasonable expectation that this state will in turn recognize them as residents for the purposes of tuition, among other matters.

AFSA supports any such request for residency status; it is very important for those who suffer the uncertainties and disruption of foreign service life to be able to count on the full range of entitlements afforded to all citizens of their declared state of residence.  Foreign Service employees are not, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, residents of any of the countries in which they have served during their career; as the dependent of those employees, neither, therefore, is this applicant.  On the contrary, he is a resident of [this state].

It is clear to us, therefore, that [FS employee and his/her dependent] should not be disqualified on the grounds of prolonged absence from any state. As a Foreign Service employee, he/she has no option but to serve overseas and all absences from any state are, by definition, temporary.  Indeed, service in the Foreign Service of the United States is analogous to service in the armed forces of the United States, with the difference that the majority of one’s service takes place in foreign countries."

Should you receive an adverse residency determination in relation to in-state tuition, please get in touch with AFSA at either (202) 647-8160 (State department office, also handling FCS, FAS, BBG and APHIS cases) or (202) 712-1941 (USAID office).