University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu

Residency

Establishing Residency in the State of Hawaiʻi for Tuition Purposes

The University of Hawaiʻi, like all public institutions of higher learning, has residency requirements for payment of resident tuition. Similar to those in other states, these requirements are complex. Consequently, students applying to UH West Oʻahu often have questions about their residency status as it applies to tuition.

This page is designed to acquaint you with the University of Hawaiʻi‘s residency regulations and to answer questions you might have. The information provided is not a complete explanation of residency laws and regulations. Furthermore, residency rules may change as a result of legislation or administrative action. Residency Officers on all campuses of the University of Hawaiʻi have the most up-to-date information on all aspects of residency.

Detailed information is available in Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4: Determination of Residency as Applied to Tuition and Admission (PDF).

Have questions regarding Residency? Email us at uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu.

Residency FAQs

To qualify for resident tuition, you must have been a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi for at least one calendar year (365 days) prior to the semester for which you want resident tuition status. This applies to adults 18 years of age or older. If you are a minor (under 18 years of age), your parents or court-ordered guardians must have been bona fide residents for the calendar year in question.

In addition, whether you are an adult or minor, you must not have been claimed as a dependent for tax purposes by your parents or court-ordered guardians for the calendar year in question if they are not legal residents of Hawaiʻi.

Bona fide residency is similar to the legal concept of domicile. A person’s domicile is the place where he or she lives permanently and returns to after any absence. To be a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi, you must be physically present in the state and demonstrate during the calendar year in question your intent to make Hawaiʻi your permanent residence.

Intent for resident tuition purposes is based not on your future actions, but on what you have done in the immediate past (i.e., prior to the semester for which you want resident tuition status). We may request the following documents to help us determine your residency status:

  • State of Hawaiʻi personal income tax, filing as a resident
  • State of Hawaiʻi Voter Certificate
  • State of Hawaiʻi General Excise License
  • Employment verification
  • Bank account active in Hawaiʻi
  • Lease agreement
  • Proof of property ownership
  • Other documents as needed

You may also submit any other evidence you wish to have considered.

Please contact Admissions to discuss your specific situation: uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu or (808) 689-2900 or toll-free (866) 299-8656.

Except as otherwise provided by the Board of Regents, in order to be considered a resident for tuition purposes, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident for one calendar year (365 days). Those who are undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for resident tuition status. Complete the Undocumented Student Residency Tuition Request Form [PDF] and submit to the Office of Admissions for review.

You cannot maintain domicile in Hawaiʻi and another place simultaneously. In other words, you cannot be a bona fide resident of Hawaiʻi if you appear to maintain your domicile somewhere else at the same time.

The one-calendar-year “clock” begins when you take the first action demonstrating your intent to make Hawaiʻi your permanent residence (i.e., start employment, register to vote, purchase property, or get a general excise license).

You cannot establish residency by simply enrolling in school. If you are a nonresident student, it is presumed that you are living in Hawaiʻi primarily to attend school and that your presence is temporary even if you live in Hawaiʻi during vacation and other breaks from study.

Yes, but there is a credit restriction during the one calendar year (365 days) during which you are establishing residency. You are limited to taking only five semester credits each semester at any school in Hawaiʻi. You may take online/distance learning courses that are offered in a different state, but you must pay that institution’s nonresident tuition rate.

Yes, but your one calendar year (365 days) does not start until you finish/discontinue your participation in the program. This is assuming you have taken action demonstrating your intent to make Hawaiʻi your permanent residence (i.e., start employment, register to vote, purchase property, or get a general excise license).

Yes, the University of Hawai’i recognizes several categories of nonresident students who are allowed to pay the in-state tuition.

Non-Resident Tuition Exemption

Because everyone’s situation is different, contact Admissions to discuss your specific situation. We will help you determine what action to take and what documents to provide when you become eligible for resident tuition. Admissions can be reached at: uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu or (808) 689-2900 or toll-free (866) 299-8656.

Each University of Hawaiʻi campus has a Residency Officer who oversees the resident and nonresident status of all students at that campus. All residency decisions are based on Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules Title 20, Chapter 4: Determination of Residency as Applied to Tuition and Admission. If the residency process seems rigorous and detailed, it is because, by law, Residency Officers must be precise in determining each student’s residency status.

There is an appeal process. Appeal forms are available in the Office of Admissions.

We recommend contacting Admissions before you arrive in Hawaiʻi so that we can discuss your specific situation and advise you about your next steps. There is a time sensitive component to process of establishing residency. This time sensitive component will determine the earliest semester you could qualify for resident tuition status. Admissions can be reached at: uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu or (808) 689-2900 or toll-free (866) 299-8656.

  • The residency officer will provide the specific steps for you to follow when you are establishing residency.
  • Do not deviate from what you have discussed with the residency officer. One change could affect your eligibility for resident tuition status. If you do deviate from what has been discussed, contact the residency officer as soon as possible to see how this will affect your eligibility for resident tuition status.
  • Contact the residency officer before you turn in your documents to establish residency. By doing so, the residency officer can determine if you have everything to be eligible for resident tuition or if you are missing document(s). The residency officer wants to make the process easy for you and ensure that you submit all the documents necessary for the resident tuition status.
  • Make copies of everything that will be turned in to the residency officer. Bring both the original and copy and the residency officer will decide what he/she will keep for his/her records.

Tuition Status Exemption

The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents allows the following non-resident categories to pay the in-state or a lowered tuition rate:

The Native Hawaiian Exemption tuition status allows in-state tuition for those who are of Native Hawaiian race/ethnicity/ancestry/descent. Birthplace or birth state listing Hawaii is not considered for this Exemption.

To be reviewed for the Native Hawaiian Exemption tuition status, please answer the following:

  1. Is Native Hawaiian race/ethnicity/ancestry/descent documented on your birth certificate?
  2. What are my options if Native Hawaiian race/ethnicity/ancestry/descent is not documented on my birth certificate?
    • Option 1 – In addition to your birth certificate, you will need to provide birth certificate(s) of your parent’s, grandparent’s, and so on until a birth certificate documents Native Hawaiian race/ethnicity/ancestry/descent. Death certificates can be used as a substitute for birth certificates. Email all certificates to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • Option 2 – An Office of Native Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) card can be used as proof of Native Hawaiian race/ethnicity/ancestry/descent. Email a copy of the front and back of your OHA card to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • Option 3 – A Kamehameha Schools Ho’oulu Verification Services confirmation letter can be used as proof of Native Hawaiian race/ethnicity/ancestry/descent. Email a copy of your confirmation letter to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.

The Faculty/Staff Exemption tuition status allows in-state tuition for faculty and staff members (and their dependents) who are 100% Full Time Employees (FTE) in the University of Hawaii System and in a bargaining unit that has this provision written into their contract. Currently, RCUH employees are not eligible for this tuition status.

To be reviewed for the Faculty/Staff Exemption tuition status, please answer the following:

  1. I am a full time faculty/staff member employed at the University of Hawaii.
    • Yes – Email a copy of your Payroll Notification Form (PNF)/employment contract to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • No (I am a spouse or dependent of a full time faculty/staff member) – Go to Question 2.
  2. I am a spouse or dependent of a full time faculty/staff member.
    • In addition to the full time faculty/staff member’s Payroll Notification Form (PNF)/employment contract, email a copy of your marriage certificate or birth certificate as proof of your relationship with the faculty/staff member to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.

The Pacific Institutional Exemption tuition status allows citizens of an eligible Pacific island, district, commonwealth, territory or insular jurisdiction, state, or nation which has no public institution of higher education granting baccalaureate degrees to pay 1.5 times the resident tuition rate. See the list below for eligibility and documents required as proof. Email documents to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review:

  • American Samoa:
    • US passport endorsed as “US National (not US Citizen)” listing American Samoa as birthplace OR
    • American Samoa birth certificate OR
    • American Samoa high school transcript (must also be a US Citizen, US National, or US Permanent Resident)
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas:
    • Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas birth certificate OR
    • Commonwealth of Northern Marianas high school transcript (must also be a US Citizen, US National, or US Permanent Resident)
  • Cook Islands: Cook Islands passport
  • Federated States of Micronesia: Federated States of Micronesia passport or birth certificate
  • Futuna: Futuna passport
  • Kiribati: Kiribati passport
  • Nauru: Nauru passport
  • Niue: Niue passport
  • Rapa Nui (Easter Island): Rapa Nui passport
  • Republic of Palau: Republic of Palu passport or birth certificate
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands: Republic of the Marshall Islands passport or birth certificate
  • Solomon Islands: Solomon Islands passport
  • Tokelau: Tokelau passport
  • Tonga: Tonga passport
  • Tuvalu: Tuvalu passport
  • Vanuatu: Vanuatu passport
  • Wallis: Wallis passport

The Active Duty Military Exemption tuition status allows US Title 10 active duty service members and their authorized dependents to pay the in-state tuition rate based on the service member’s rotation here in Hawaii. The service member’s report date on the orders must be before or within the semester to be eligible for the Active Duty Military Exemption tuition status for that semester. A student is ineligible for the Active Duty Military Exemption tuition status if the service member’s rotation in Hawaii ends before the start of enrollment at the University of Hawaii. A student with the Active Duty Military Exemption tuition status is able to keep this tuition status as long as he/she is a continuing student with no breaks in attendance. If there is a break in attendance, the service member’s rotation in Hawaii will be verified again.

To be reviewed for the Active Duty Military Exemption tuition status, please answer the following:

  1. I am a US Title 10 active duty service member who is currently or will be stationed in Hawaii.
    • Yes – Email a copy of your orders to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review. If you have extended your rotation period, also provide a copy of any documentation that shows the new end of rotation/PRD/DEROS date.
    • No – (I am a spouse/child of the service member) Go to Statement 2.
  2. I am a spouse of a US Title 10 active duty service member who is currently or will be stationed in Hawaii.
    • Yes – Email a copy of the service member’s orders to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review. If your name is not on the orders, also email a copy of your marriage certificate as proof of authorized dependentship. If the service member has extended his/her rotation period, also provide a copy of any documentation that shows the new end of rotation/PRD/DEROS date.
    • No – (I am a child of the service member) Go to Statement 3.
  3. I am a child of a US Title 10 active duty service member who is currently or will be stationed in Hawaii.
    • Yes – Email a copy of the service member’s orders to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review. If your name is not on the orders, also email a copy of any official military document as proof of current authorized dependentship. If the service member has extended his/her rotation period, also provide a copy of any documentation that shows the new end of rotation/PRD/DEROS date.

The Veterans Exemption tuition status allows veterans and individuals who are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill® (Chapter 30), Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Chapter 31), Post 9/11 GI Bill® (Chapter 33), Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35), and John David Fry Scholarship to pay the in-state tuition rate.

To be reviewed for the Veterans Exemption tuition status, please answer the following:

  1. I am a veteran eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits and was discharged from active duty.
    • Yes – Email a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility for Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • No – Go to Statement 2.
  2. I am an individual eligible for transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits and the veteran transferor was discharged from active duty.
    • Yes – Email a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility for Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • No – Go to Statement 3.
  3. I am an individual eligible for transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits and the transferor is an active duty service member.
    • Yes – Email a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility for transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • No – Go to Statement 4.
  4. I am an individual using Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program benefits.
    • Yes – Email a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility for transferred Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • No – Go to Statement 5.
  5. I am an individual using Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits under the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship.
    • Yes – Email a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility for Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    • No – Go to Statement 6.
  6. I am an individual under the Vocational Readiness and Employment (VR&E).
    1. Yes – Email your Tungsten Network authorization (provided by your VR&E counselor) to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review.
    2. No – I am sorry but you are not in an eligible category for the Veterans Exemption tuition status.

Hawai‘i-based Guard/Reservists are allowed to pay the in-state tuition rate during their obligation period in Hawai‘i. If you are on Active Guard Reserve (AGR) status, please follow the process for the Active Duty Military Exemption tuition status.

To be reviewed for the Hawai‘i Based Guard/Reserve Exemption tuition status, email one of the following to uhwo.admissions@hawaii.edu for review:

  • Enlistment contract to a Hawai‘i-based Guard or Reserve unit
  • Transfer paperwork to a Hawai‘i-based Guard or Reserve unit
  • Orders to a Hawai‘i-based Guard or Reserve unit

**Spouses/dependents are not eligible for this Exemption. To be eligible for the Exemption for a given semester, your approval date/contract effective date/transfer date must be before or within the semester to be eligible for the Guard/Reserve Exemption tuition status for that semester. A student with the Guard/Reserve Exemption tuition status is able to keep this tuition status as long as he/she is a continuing student with no breaks in attendance. If there is a break in attendance, the enlistment contract with the Hawaii-based Guard/Reserve unit will be verified again.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) is a program of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Through WUE, students in western states may enroll at UH West O’ahu at a reduced tuition of 150 percent of the institution’s regular resident tuition. WUE tuition is considerably less than non-resident tuition. Reduced WUE tuition is currently available for freshman and transfer students. UH West O‘ahu reserves the right to limit WUE awards each academic year based on enrollment projections.

You must be a resident of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Washington State, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Your family’s domicile (home) must be maintained as your permanent address throughout the duration of your participation in the WUE program. Freshman applicants must have a 2.7 cumulative grade-point-average over four years in high school. Transfer applicants must have a 2.0 cumulative grade-point-average.  WUE Applicants must be accepted as a degree-seeking student at UH West O’ahu.  Unclassified non-degree students are not eligible.

  • The following programs are not included in the WUE program:
    1. Bachelor programs: Computer, Electronics & Networking Technology, Creative Media, Culinary Management, Early Childhood Education, Information Security & Assurance, Information Technology, Respiratory Care.
    2. All Certificate programs
    3. Distance Learning programs
  • Only undergraduate students, and those who have not already earned a baccalaureate degree, qualify.
  • WUE is awarded only once at the time of admission and will remain in effect for the duration of the student’s academic career at UH West O’ahu.
  • Non-WUE students who enroll as non-residents will not qualify for WUE status in later terms. Hawai’i residency cannot be established under the WUE program.
  • Students changing their residency will be reclassified to non-resident. Students are only able to apply for Hawai‘i residency 12 months after cessation of WUE.

Note: Currently, UH West O‘ahu does not offer housing.

Complete and submit the following:

  1. University of Hawai‘i System Online Application Form
  2. Western Undergraduate Exchange Application
  3. Official transcripts from your high school and/or college/university sent directly to the Office of Admissions. WUE eligibility cannot be determined without official transcripts.
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