Students Under 19 Years of Age

These students may have certain circumstances (e.g., married, unaccompanied minors, parents deceased, parents moved out of state)

If the student is under the age of 19 (with limited exceptions), the student's residence status is derived from that of the parent or legal guardian. 

 However, students under the age of 19 who may have specific circumstances may meet the residency requirements independently from their parents.  This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • The student is married
  • The student is an unaccompanied minor
  • The student's parents are deceased
  • The student's parents moved out of state

 In these specific circumstances, students might meet all the residency requirements on their own.  The documents demonstrating residency must include the student's name, the student's California address, and date of at least one year and one day prior or on the Residence Determination Date for the term. 


Unmarried Minors with a Parent Living

An unmarried minor (i.e., a student under the age of 18) with a living parent or parents is not legally capable of establishing their own residence. Such a student derives their residence status from the parent or parents with whom they are living, or has lived with most recently, unless an exception applies. That parent must be a California resident for at least one year immediately prior to the Residence Determination Date for the minor to qualify for California residence.

The residence of an unmarried minor with a living parent cannot be changed by their own actions, by the appointment of a legal guardian, or by their parents' relinquishment of the right of control.

Married Minors

A minor who marries gains the legal capacity to establish residence separate from their parents. The residence status of a married minor is determined in the same manner as an adult.

Adopted Minors

An adopted minor takes the residence status of the adoptive parent with whom the minor is living or most recently resided. The adoptive parent must be a California resident for at least one year immediately prior to the Residence Determination Date for the adopted minor to qualify for California residence.

Deceased Parents

An unmarried minor whose parents are both deceased, and for whom a legal guardian has not been appointed, may establish their own residence. If a legal guardian has been appointed, the minor derives their residence from the legal guardian. If one parent is still living, the minor derives residence from the surviving parent regardless of whether a legal guardian has been appointed (Education Code Sections 68062(f) and (g)).

Divorced Parents

If the parents of an unmarried minor are divorced, the minor derives his/her residence from the parent with whom the minor lives or most recently resided, regardless which parent has been awarded custody. However, if one parent is not a California resident and the other parent is, consideration should be given to whether the student might qualify for resident classification pursuant to an exception based on their dependence on a California resident (Education Code Section 68076) (See, Exceptions to Standard Rules, Section VI).

Absent Parents

When a custodial parent has been absent and unheard from, or whose whereabouts have been unknown for more than five years, that person may be presumed to be deceased (Probate Code Section12401). The minor child of an absent parent must provide proof of their eligibility to establish his/her own independent residence. If a minor's parents are both presumed dead, the minor may establish their own legal residence as noted above.

Unaccompanied Minors

The Unaccompanied Children (UC) Program is managed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), an operational division of the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The term "unaccompanied minor" has been used to describe children and youth experiencing homelessness as well as those crossing mostly the southern United States (US) border. By law, HHS has custody and must provide care for each UC, defined as a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States; has not attained 18 years of age; and, with respect to whom, there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States, or no parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody. See 6 U.S.C. §279(g)(2). It is important to distinguish that unaccompanied minors placed in long-term foster care under HHS custody are defined differently from foster youths placed under the care of a local child welfare agency or probation agency in California. Unaccompanied minors placed in long-term foster care under HHS custody have the same educational rights as children residing in California, but they are not considered to be foster youth by the California EC.

Young Adults

Because the language in Education Code section 68062 states that a minor derives residence from their parent or legal guardian, an unmarried student who turns 18 carries forward into adulthood the derived residence of their parent or legal guardian. Therefore, mere attainment of age 18 and presence in California does not entitle a student to resident status for tuition purposes. The student must establish clear evidence of their intent to abandon the derived residence of their out-of-state parent or legal guardian(s), adopt a new residence, and maintain the new residence for at least a full year before student can be eligible for classification as a California resident. 

Wards of the State of California 

Wards of the State of California are California residents for purposes of determining residence for tuition purposes. 

Spouses/ Domestic Partners 

A husband or wife may establish their own separate residence and does not derive resident status from the other. The same is true for registered domestic partners. Even though they are living together, a husband and wife or domestic partners may be residents of different states or countries (Education Code Section 68062(e). ​