Establishing New Mexico Residency, Eligibility for Reduced Tuition Rates or In-State Tuition


The policy for determining resident and non-resident tuition classifications for students enrolling at public postsecondary institutions in New Mexico. 

For more information or interpretation, you may contact the New Mexico Higher Education Department or the admissions office or registrar’s office at your institution.



Requirements To Establish New Mexico Residency

To become a legal resident of New Mexico for tuition purposes each of the following requirements must be satisfied:
  • A person must physically reside in New Mexico for the twelve consecutive months immediately preceding the term for which the resident classification is requested.
  • Only persons who are financially independent may establish residency apart from parents or guardians.  A student cannot be approved for residency who is financially dependent upon his or her parents or legal guardians who are nonresidents of New Mexico. Dependency will be determined according to the 1954 Internal Revenue Service Code, Section 152 and is always based on the previous tax year for residency purposes. If under the age of 23 at the time the student applies for residency, a copy of his/her parents’ or guardians’ 1040 or 1040A U.S. income tax form for the previous tax year is required. If the student is shown to be a dependent on this tax form, he/she will not be considered financially independent or eligible for residency during the current year.
  • The student or person must sign a written declaration of intent to relinquish residency in any other state and to establish it in New Mexico.
  • Overt acts are required to support evidence of the written declaration of intent to establish permanent residency in New Mexico. Any act considered inconsistent with being a New Mexico resident will cause the request for resident classification to be denied. 
The required overt acts are evidence of any two of the following:
  • If the applicant is financially dependent, a copy of the parent or guardians’ previous year income tax showing the applicant as a dependent and the parent address as New Mexico; or
  • New Mexico high school transcript issued in the past year confirming attendance at a New Mexico public or private high school within the past twelve (12) months; or
  • Transcript from an online high school showing a New Mexico address confirming attendance within the past twelve (12) months; or
  • New Mexico driver’s license or ID card with an original date of issue or a renewal date issued prior to the first day of the term or semester; or
  • Proof of payment of New Mexico state income tax for the previous year; or
  • Evidence of employment within the state of New Mexico; or
  • New Mexico vehicle registration; or
  • Voter registration in New Mexico; or
  • Proof of residential property ownership in New Mexico; or
  • A rental agreement within New Mexico; or
  • Utility bills showing the applicant name and a New Mexico address; or
  • Other evidence which would reasonably support the individual’s intent to establish and maintain New Mexico residency.
Exceptions to the twelve (12) month requirement

If a student has met the requirements of one of the following exceptions, and is granted residency status, the student shall continue to be classified and reported as a resident for subsequent, continuing enrollment.

  • An individual married to a legal resident of New Mexico and providing appropriate evidence shall not be required to complete the 12-month durational requirement. 
  • Any person, their spouse and dependents who move to New Mexico or who now live in New Mexico and who provide appropriate evidence that they work in a permanent full-time position or practice a profession or conduct a business full-time in New Mexico, shall not be required to complete the 12-month durational requirement.
  • Any person entering the active service of the United States while a resident of New Mexico and who enters a state institution of postsecondary education in New Mexico after separation from such service may be classified as having been a legal resident in New Mexico during the time spent in the service provided they:
    • Have not while in the service done anything (such as voting in another state) to show abandonment of their New Mexico residency;
    • Have not established residence in some other state subsequent to being separated from service; return to New Mexico within three years after separation from service with the intention of maintaining this state as their legal residence; are not a dependent minor with parent(s) or guardian(s) whose place of residence classifies him or her as a nonresident of New Mexico.
  • Any person, their spouse and dependents, who move to New Mexico for retirement purposes, and who provide appropriate evidence of retirement shall not be required to complete the 12-month durational requirement.

If a student has met the requirement of one of the following waivers, the student shall continue to be considered a non-resident for reporting purposes but will receive the benefit of the in-state tuition rates ONLY.  In receiving such a waiver, the student does not become eligible for any state funded student financial aid.

  • American Indian nations, tribes and pueblos.  All out of state members of an American Indian nation, tribe and pueblo, located wholly or partially in New Mexico, regardless of the residence of the member prior to acceptance at a post-secondary educational institution shall be eligible to pay the in-state tuition rate.  
  • Any person, their spouse or dependent child, not otherwise entitled to claim residence, who is a member of the armed forces of the United States or armed forces of a foreign country assigned to active duty in the state of New Mexico, will be assessed in-state tuition rates.
  • An active member of the national guard and the member's spouse and children shall be deemed in-state residents for purposes of determining tuition and fees at all state institutions of higher learning.
  • During regular academic year semesters, nonresident tuition may be waived, according to the institution's tuition policy, for part-time students (U.S. citizens and foreign nationals) enrolling for no more than six semester hours during a regular term.
  • During summer sessions, nonresident tuition may be waived according to the institution's tuition policy.
  • Certain Texas residents may be eligible for in state tuition rates who reside within a 135 mile radius of the attending institution.  
  • Tuition reciprocity participants from Colorado and Arizona shall be selected by eligible institutions to pay in-state tuition rates based on criteria set by forth by each eligible institution.  The department will notify each eligible institution of the maximum waivers allocated on an annual basis.
  • Recipients receiving an athletic scholarship from a post-secondary educational institution may qualify for in-state tuition rates.
  • Any student participating in the Competitive Scholarship shall be recognized as a competitive scholar and reported as such, unless the student petitions for and is granted residency status.
  • Graduate assistants, including research and teaching assistants, employed at least one-fourth time (10 hours weekly), will be assessed in-state tuition rates. To be eligible, students (U.S. citizens and foreign nationals) must be enrolled full-time, as defined in the graduate catalogue of the public postsecondary institution, during regular terms.
  • Any tuition or state-funded financial aid that is granted to residents of New Mexico shall also be granted on the same terms to all persons, regardless of immigration status, who have attended a secondary educational institution in New Mexico for at least one year and who have either graduated from a New Mexico high school or received a high school equivalency credential (such as a GED) in New Mexico. State-funded financial aid programs with an employment component may require U.S citizenship or eligible non-citizen status.
Student Exchange Programs

Participating students may not begin to establish residency (i.e., 12-month durational requirement) until discontinuing from such a program.

  • Western undergraduate exchange (WUE).  Institutions must apply to the WICHE to participate in the WUE program where students in western states may enroll in many two-year and four-year college programs at a reduced tuition level, which is 150 percent of the institution's regular resident tuition.
  • Western regional graduate program (WRGP).  Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible to enroll in available graduate programs outside of their home state at resident tuition rates. Students need not meet financial aid criteria. To be included in WRGP, programs must meet the criteria of distinctiveness and quality. Programs are nominated by their institutions, peer reviewed by other graduate institutions in the west, and approved biannually by the student exchange program advisory council, a policy body that represents all participating states.
Petition for In-State Tuition

The department recognizes that there may be circumstances in which a student would not be able to fulfill the requirements of an overt act as listed above. In such instances, the institution will afford the student an opportunity to provide other documentary evidence or reasonable explanation which demonstrates that permanent residency in New Mexico has been established by the student.

A person's residency classification for tuition purposes shall be determined at time of admission and must be completed by the census date of that first enrollment in a given public postsecondary educational institution.  A person not meeting the residency requirements shall be classified as a nonresident for purposes of tuition charges. The student's classification at time of admission remains in effect unless the individual is re-admitted to the institution or until the individual petitions to become a New Mexico resident.

 Once determined a nonresident at the time of census date, a student can petition to be classified as a New Mexico resident by completing the "petition for resident tuition classification" form from the appropriate educational institution.  The form should be completed and returned to the institution, along with appropriate documentation listed in this brochure. A change in residency classification is never automatic and it is always the student’s responsibility to initiate the process.

Once a petition has been submitted, the petition is reviewed and a decision is made as quickly as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is the residency status determined for my parent or guardian when my classification depends upon my parent or guardians residence? The residency status of a parent or guardian is determined according to the same requirements outlined above for individuals.

2. Are there any programs I might be participating in that have special restrictions concerning residency eligibility? Yes. Students participating in tuition reciprocity, competitive scholarship, WRGP or WICHE student exchange programs are ineligible to establish residency. Students may not begin to establish residency until after discontinuing any of these programs.

3. What if I am not a U.S. citizen? Immigrants, refugees, and international students, who are lawfully in the U.S., have obtained permanent status from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or non-citizens serving active duty in the armed forces of the U.S may establish residency for tuition purposes. Any non-citizen entering an institution of higher education on a non-immigrant visa (i.e. student, diplomatic, visitor, or visiting scholar), including spouses and dependents, are classified as non-residents.

4. Must all these requirements be met before the semester starts in order to qualify for resident tuition that semester? Yes. Petitions for resident status will not be approved  unless all requirements are met before the first day of classes for that term. Until you are officially classified as a resident, you must proceed as a non-resident. Tuition and fees must be paid on time at the non-resident rates.

5. If I fail to petition and I am charged non-resident tuition after I am eligible for a change of status, can I receive a refund of the difference between non-resident and resident tuition retroactive to the date I was eligible? No. It is the student’s responsibility to petition for a change of resident status. By not petitioning, you waive your right to recover the difference.

6. Can I lose my classification as a resident and be reclassified as a non-resident? Yes. You can lose your status in the following two ways: 1) acting to establish legal residence in another state or 2) the institution finds that resident status was granted on the basis of false or misleading information.

7. What if I am a minor? Persons under the age of 18 are considered minors under the law. A minor’s residence is presumed to be the same as his/her parents’ or legal guardian’s. The residence decision for students under 18 is based upon the legal residence of the parents or legal guardian. In the event that a non-custodial parent is a legal resident of New Mexico, the minor student will be classified as a resident.

You must be at least 19 years old to establish residency apart from your parents or guardians.   With the sole exception of automatic legal emancipation upon marriage, a minor is presumed to share his parents’ or legal guardian’s residence, unless the minor presents to the appropriate institution official written evidence sufficient to justify (as a conclusion of law) a finding of the minor’s emancipation.

NMHED, Financial Aid Division Contact Information

Phone: 1-800-279-9777


CONTACT US: If you require additional guidance on how to direct your question or are not able to locate the information you are looking for on the New Mexico Higher Education Department's website, please send us a message.