On December 5, 2016, the tuition application process by which students applying at colleges and universities across the state changed. In the past, students applied for residency at each individual institution they applied to attend – and the college or university itself determined eligibility for tuition purposes. With the Residency Determination Service (RDS), students now fill out one form to be used at all colleges and universities they apply to, and an outside organization, College Foundation, Inc. (CFI), makes the determination.
“Forsyth Tech was a pilot community college for this program, and one of the first in the state to go live with it,” explains Jean Groome, Forsyth Tech Director of Admissions. “As such, we’ve seen firsthand some of the serious ramifications students are having when they go to register for classes.”
“It’s been unexpectedly overwhelming for some of our applicants because it’s a more detailed process,” Groome adds. “We’re encouraging students to get this process done now so there’s not an unpleasant surprise down the road.”
Students do an initial interview online with RDS to determine residency. If RDS has questions, or asks for additional documentation or information, the organization sends an email to the student. Admissions leaders at the college say they’re seeing a problem: many students aren’t responding.
“When they don’t respond, one of two things are happening,” says Gwen Whitaker, Director of Records and Registrar at Forsyth Tech. “The first scenario is that if students don’t respond within 25 days, they are cancelled out of the system and have to start the residency process over again. The second scenario involves when RDS tells them it appears they are in-state, but requires additional documentation to out-of-state residency.”
“We’re stuck, because we’re having to tell students we’re sorry because they’ve waited too long, but there’s nothing we can do,” Groome explains. “The reality for students is that they need to take this seriously, and follow through with everything they’re told to do.”
The last day for students to fill out the RDS form to be eligible for in-state tuition for summer classes is Monday, May 15.
“This is the biggest impact on students I’ve seen in 33 years of working in higher education,” Groome says. “This affects every single student – both in-state and out-of-state—applying for college in North Carolina.”
All students, parents, faculty, staff, and constituents of the North Carolina Community College System should refer to the Residency website at www.ncresidency.org for more current details regarding the North Carolina Residency Determination Service, processes and required residency guidelines.