Florida currently offers the lowest in-state tuition rate for its residents. In-state tuition is generally considered a part of financial aid because the state is paying the university the difference between the in-state and out-of-state tuition rates (which are considered the full tuition costs). The in-state tuition rate at Florida universities is about 25 percent of the actual tuition costs. In order to qualify for the in-state tuition rate, the student must qualify as a Florida resident.
When determining the classification of residency for students, one of two categories is used: independent or dependent student. Independent students are not claimed on their parent’s or legal guardian’s federal income tax statement, or their parents do not provide 50 percent or more of their support. Students are considered dependent it they are claimed as dependents by parent or legal guardian on the federal income tax statement, or if their parents provide 50 percent or more of their support, regardless of age.
To meet Florida residency requirements, an independent student or the dependent’s parents or legal guardians must establish and maintain a legal Florida residence for at least 12 months before the first day of classes of the term for which Florida residency status is sought.
The college or university the student is trying to attend will require documentation of the 12 months’ legal residence before the student will be classified as a Florida resident for tuition purposes. It is best for the student to request Florida residency in writing and submit supporting documents to the university with plenty of additional time prior to the term for which classification is sought, in case additional documents are needed.
At least one of the following documents is generally acceptable for establishing Florida residency:
Proof of purchase of permanent home in Florida.
Declaration of Domicile.
Florida vehicle title.
Florida voter’s registration.
Florida vehicle registration.
Florida’s driver’s license.
Professional/occupational license in Florida.
Florida incorporation or other evidence of legal residence in Florida.
Full-time, non-temporary employment in Florida.
At least one of the documents must be dated or issued at least 12 months before the first day of classes of the term for which Florida residency is sought. Rent receipts, leases, employment records, tax returns, or school or college records are generally not able to be used as evidence of establishing a legal Florida residence.
For other financial assistance, it is best to begin with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA as it is most frequently referred to. It is best to have the FAFSA completed by March for summer or fall enrollment, or by October for the spring.