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N.C. Residency Determination

The State of North Carolina has changed its method of determining residency for purposes of state financial aid.  Beginning on December 5, 2016, that determination will no longer be made by the campus but instead will be made by the State through its Residency Determination Service (RDS) website (

North Carolina residency must be determined via RDS before any financial aid from the state can be considered.

Below is general information about RDS that may prove helpful.  There is also more detailed information on the RDS website.

The North Carolina Residency Determination Service (RDS)

RDS is new to North Carolina and provides residency determinations in accordance with North Carolina residency laws and applicable federal statutes for the purposes of in-state tuition and state financial aid.

  • RDS provides a convenient and intuitive process to claim and document NC residency.
  • RDS allows the use of one residency determination for admissions applications to multiple NC colleges and universities and to demonstrate residency eligibility for state grant purposes.

What proves residency in North Carolina to make the student eligible for a state grant?

To prove North Carolina residency and be eligible for a state grant; the student must demonstrate through RDS:

  • Established legal residence (domicile) in North Carolina
  • Maintained that domicile for at least twelve (12) consecutive months before claiming residency on RDS
  • Have a residentiary presence in the state (has completed acts typically associated with being a resident)
  • Intend to make North Carolina a permanent home indefinitely (rather than being in North Carolina solely to attend college)

What should the student expect when using RDS?

For many students, the residency classification process is simple.  If the student was born in North Carolina and has lived in the State all his/her life, the student will probably be one of many students who are classified as North Carolina residents.  If the student now lives in, recently lived in, or still have strong ties to another state, RDS may require more in-depth information or documentation.  Any information the student provides will be validated against federal and North Carolina state agency databases.  The student MUST:

  • Complete the RDS online interview (created to simplify the request and enhance the consistency and accuracy of residency determination).
  • Provide identification information (have information easily available to quickly complete the RDS interview):
    • Social Security Number (SSN) for student, parent(s) or spouse (same as the FAFSA)
    • Without an SSN, RDS cannot validate information with federal and state agencies and RDS must classify the student as a non-resident and ineligible for any state grant

How to use RDS

1. Access RDS in two ways:

  • On the RDS homepage of, select “Complete Residency Determination”
  • From (student must be logged in) select the “Residency” button in the CFNC Applications Hub

2. The student must use CFNC login to access RDS; if the student does not have a CFNC login, a new account and login must be created at This account login will be the same as a CFNC login. There is no separate login for RDS.

3. Start the RDS Interview (select “Complete Residency Determination” button):

  • Answer the questions
  • The student may start, stop, and come back to the online interview as needed
  • The student has 25 days after starting to finish the interview; incomplete interviews are canceled and the student must start again

4. Additional directions, information and next steps are on the RDS website at