Fourteenth Amendment question

Mrs. Cad moved to another state and I’m going to be joining her when my teaching contract is up in May. To establish residency in the state, one needs to either work there or live there for 90 days. She wants to work on a master’s and I may want to work on a PhD when we get settled but to get resident tuition, you need to live in the state for a year.

Now I understand why they do it. If they didn’t, they would get non-resident tuition from out of state students for at most 3 months and I agree with their policy and most states do it, but it does seem to be a violation of the 14th Amendment for equal protection of the laws viz. some legal residents get the lower tuition and others don’t. At the very least, it seems unconstitutional in that there is no appeal process in place.

I would assume that the rationale is that you have no right to get a resident tuition. Nothing prevents you from going to the college; you just don’t get a price break.

It is, of course, to prevent people from changing their legal residence to, say, Ann Arbor or Oxford MS for four years to qualify for lower in-state tuition rates, then promptly moving elsewhere.

I believe most state-run universities and colleges will often waive the one-year residency requirement if you demonstrate that the move was a bona fide relocation to that state for the purpose of employment, health, etc., and not a ruse to qualify for in-state tuition. It would not hurt to inquire about this.

Have you paid state taxes there before?

Have you contributed in any way to the state?

Can you be expected to remain in the state as a contributer after you benefit from other people’s taxes? (people who’ve already lived there have established a network of ties that may improve the odds of someone remaining in state once their education is complete.)

These questions are the ones that pertain to residency for tuition rate purposes. I don’t see how any are legally discriminatory in 14th amendment terms.

For what it matters, the appeal process it to sue the school for the right to claim in state tuition rates.

All WAGs aside, the year waiting period is possibly constitutional, and possibly not.

The right to travel has long been a right the courts have found. Its basis is unclear, but since 1999 it has been looked at as a part of the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th amendment. The right is not explicitly stated in the Constitution.

Durational periods for eligibility for things like welfare have been struck down by the Supreme Court many times, because they violate the right to travel. Any law that abridges the right to travel must meet the strict scrutiny test. As such the law must:

The posters making wild guesses in this thread are proposing arguments as to what compelling interest the state might have in making a 1 year waiting period. Tuition durational requirements are not clearly under strict scrutiny, but even if they are relegated to the rational basis test, they should fail. See Black v Sullivan, which is pretty much directly on point here.

In my analysis, the waiting period is unconstitutional. All of the previously posted reasons will not stand up to the scrutiny of the court, as pay-to-play has been struck down, and every citizen has a right to get the same privileges as everyone else in that state. A short waiting period might be ok in order to make sure the person is actually intending to be a resident, but a year is almost certainly unconstitutional.

The courts have been a little slow to look at these sorts of policies wrt college, though, because of some unspoken reasons. One of these is that it hurts to cut out some university funding. Another is that the 4 year or more commitment is sort of part-and-parcel to getting a degree, so a one year time period seems acceptable, even though it really doesn’t pass constitutional muster.

Yes, that is a good idea for the OP to check out. Here in Alabama, the University of Alabama in Huntsville has this to say about that:

C. Demonstrating Alabama Residency - Alternative Approach.

A student who does not qualify for classification as a resident student under the foregoing requirements may possibly qualify if he/she (or his/her supporting person in the case of a minor) meets any one of the following requirements at the time of registration:

  1. Is a full-time, non-temporary employee at UAH or is the spouse of such an
  2. Is employed by UAH as a graduate student or fellow on at least a 0.5 FTE
    (half-time) basis
  3. Is a full-time, non-temporary employee of some other employer within the
    state of Alabama, or is the spouse of such employee, where the employment will begin no later than 90 days after registration."

Number 3 seems to be just what you’re talking about.

To Pan1:
I’m not aware of any rights that are denied based on PRIOR payments to the state. You get a drivers license at 16. Should you have to pay higher excise taxes because you never paid gas or income tax before? You buy a house, should you have to pay higher sewer taxes because you never paid county taxes before.

Polycarp: That would make sense if a person were a non-resident for the duration of their program, but as it is they pay one year non-resident then three years resident tuition gen go back home. I also think there is a difference between bachelor degrees and graduate degrees. A bachelor may be more likely to go back home or go out of state to grad school but a grad student is either already established or (like me) looking to establish new ties.

Exactly the analysis I was looking for. I have a hard time accepting that as a resident of the State of _______, that I am required to pay for a new drivers license and required to register my car within 90 days like everyone else and pay state income tax on my wages yet cannot get resident tuition for a year while my neighbor can simply because they moved there in 2008.

I guess my best hope is that I applied for a teaching credential in October (showing intent for long-term residency) but due to the long processing time, missed all of the opportunities for teaching in the Spring semester. Although if I were a law school grad, I may want to fight it if for no other reason than I suspect such a lawsuit would end up with SCOTUS.

Doubtful, most of them finish up in district court. The law is fairly clear, and other tests work just as well, so a school is more likely to just drop the waiting period.

I know, I was kidding. I was just having visions of Sarah Weddington having a case drop in her lap that made her the youngest attorney ever to argue in front of SCOTUS. I figure if absolutely necessary I’ll throw Saenz v Roe into an appeal.

In this regard, note that Saenz v. Roe refers to the right to be treated equally to native born citizens, for those who want to become permanent residents. (Emphasis added).

A state might conceivably be able to justify a waiting period for in-state tuition because as to students there is a heightened likelihood that they do not intend to become permanent residents of the state (or at least that it’s not unreasonable to impose a higher burden upon them to prove that they do).

But wouldn’t your proposal make the out-of-state/in-state distinction absolutely moot? I live in Florida, but if I attend school in California, I obviously must move there to attend school. Then I would be a CA resident with in-state rates (were there no waiting period). What student would ever be considered a non-resident for tuition purposes?

Being domiciled in a state is not the same thing as being a resident of the state.

If the only thing you do is go to school, you really haven’t shown an intent to reside in the state. A lot of college kids go home for the summer, as well. If you follow a spouse to the state and they work, that is more demonstrative of intent to reside. Other evidence is getting an in-state drivers license, buying property, changing your permanent address, etc, etc.

Imagine if you were travelling on business, and you stayed in, say, NYC for two months in an apartment. You’re domiciled in NYC, but not a resident. You would still be a resident of your home state, but not domiciled there.

Anecdotal info:

My nephew (born & raised in Minnesota) went to University of IL at Champaign-Urbana. They charged him non-resident tuition – all 4 years. And there were times that he never made it home for well over a full year – he had a summer job at the school, and not enough money to come home even for holidays – just went to his Grandmothers in Chicago. So despite having spent a year and a half without ever going outside the state border, they still would not consider him as an Illinois resident. Not as long as they could get more money out of him as non-resident tuition.

That’s true, but I think there’s a lot of difference between a two month business trip to NYC and studying at University in a different state for four years. If you’re in the one place for more than six months I’d say you should be considered to be living there.

IIRC my neice in the late 80’s went to college in Oregon. I though she mentioned that after the first year, she paid resident’s tuition. Of course, she also had a part-time job at a local supermarket there to help pay her way; and she never actually went home for the whole summer, she just kept that job full-time for the summer.

Does this policy vary from state to state?

They have a rule in Canadian income tax where you dclare “Primary residency”. Based on that is how they determine where you pay your income taxes, claim tax breaks (primary residence is exempt from capital gains), vote, etc.

The claim has to be “reasonable” i.e. have a good lawyer if the claim is unusual. But for example, if you fly into a remote site to work (like some mines in the North-West Teritories) but return to Alberta every 2 weeks on your days off, that’s where you mail goes, etc.

I suspect state residency laws are the same. If you are a dependent of your parents, if they get tax break for your tuition (is that possible in the USA?), if their home is you address outside of school sessions, etc - well of course that’s where you live.

Yes, you have the gist of it. Being a student for 4 years isn’t the same as intending to become a resident of the state. Lots of my classmates had their home state driver’s licenses, voted at home, etc. Those are far more meaningful than simply where you’re living.

U.S. law provides that being away at school, off in the service, working overseas, being in jail, etc., does not act to change your legal residence. You can change it by overt act such as registering to vote, but it will not automatically change if you are temporarily away from home for an extended period.

I was in grad school a few years ago in Ohio, I moved there from Mass. After a year, I and all my friends were able to get in-state tuition. We just made sure to change our mailing address, drivers license, auto registration, and register to vote as soon as we moved there. We also had jobs at school and/or off campus and paid town/county/state taxes.

I guess I got lucky, and assumed that’s how it was everywhere.

The Supreme Court has considered the question starting with Starns v. Malkerson, 401 U.S. 985 (1971) (summarily affirming the holding of the district court that the in-state/out-of-state tuition distinction was permissible, 326 F. Supp. 234 (D. Minn. 1970)) and its progeny, including Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441 (1973) (“Nor should our decision be construed to deny a State the right to impose on a student, as one element in demonstrating bona fide residence, a reasonable durational residency requirement . . . . We fully recognize that a State has a legitimate interest in protecting and preserving the quality of its colleges and universities and the right of its own bona fide residents to attend such institutions on a preferential tuition basis.”)

Both of these antedate Saenz v. Roe, 526 U.S. 489 (1999), by more than twenty years. At issue in Saenz were a California regulation and a federal law that would limit the amount of welfare benefits for new residents to the amount those residents would have been entitled to in their former states for the first twelve months of their California residency. The Court found that this limitation violated the Equal Protection Clause with respect to the recently-arrived; the state’s interest in saving money is not compelling in the face of the federal right of interstate travel and migration.

So, the case, to my mind, turns on whether relocating to another state for school amounts to migration. The traditional test for domicile is (1) the factum of residence (i.e., that one has actually made a residence in the new state), and (2) the intention to remain a resident of that state indefinitely (i.e., to be without an intention to leave the state at some certain time or happening). Students are typically held not to have intentions of permanent residence, and so their original domiciles are not affected. I don’t think this is a rule that has much going for it, and I think you could make the case that Vlandis, cited above and which held that irrebuttable presumptions of non-residency for tuition purposes were impermissible, means that the intention element for a student’s domicile needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis and not determined by a per se rule of what a student’s after-graduation residency intentions are. However, it would not be problematic to require the student asserting a change in domicile to adduce hard evidence of his intentions beyond merely self-serving assertions.