Montana Residency Requirements

The Montana University System classifies all applicants for admission and students as either in-state or out-of-state. This classification affects fee determinations and admission decisions. The basic rules for making the classification are found in Board of Regents’ residency policy. It is important to bear in mind that each residency determination is based on the unique set of facts found in each individual’s case. If you have questions concerning your particular case, be sure to contact the campus to which you are applying for admission or at which you are already enrolled. Generally, the Admissions Office or the Registrar’s Office will be able to assist you.

General Information

As stated above, it is important to bear in mind that each residency determination is based on the unique set of facts found in each individual’s case. With certain exceptions, to be eligible for in-state status, a person must meet the required durational residency test identified in the Board of Regents Policy 940.1 - Residency Policy and corresponding Commissioner's Directive.

  • For students applying for certification as Montana residents for purposes of application to professional student exchange programs, including but not limited to WICHE, WWAMI, Minnesota Dental or WIMU, the required time period is 24 months.
  • For all other students/applicants, the required time period is 12 months. You will have to demonstrate a bona fide intent to become a Montana resident.
  • The required durational residency period does not start until some act indicative of an intent to establish residency is taken. Mere presence in Montana will not serve to start this period.
    • However, if a person is registered for more than one-half of a full-time credit load at any post-secondary school during the required durational time period, a rebuttable presumption is created that the person is in the state primarily for educational purposes. Unless the presumption is overcome, that period of time will not be considered as part of the required waiting period and will serve to interrupt any current waiting period.
  • Acts sufficient to start the period include:
    • Registering to vote in Montana,
    • Obtaining a Montana driver’s license and registering a motor vehicle in Montana,
    • Purchase of a home in Montana,

Once the 12-month period of domicile has started, you are expected to act in a manner consistent with Montana residency and to do all things required by law of a Montana resident. Any actions inconsistent with or in contradiction of a claim of Montana residency may result in your classification as out-of-state. Examples of such inconsistent or contradictory actions are voting absentee in another state, participating in an exchange program affecting fee status, e.g., WUE or NSE, or receiving financial aid based on non-Montana residency (such as state specific financial aid from another state).

  • In particular, you should obtain a Montana driver’s license within 60 days of the start of the establishment period, and you should register any motor vehicle you operate in Montana within 60 days of moving to the state.
  • Close attention is paid to meeting the Montana income tax filing requirements; all taxable income earned during the establishment period must be reported. 

Application Presumptions

There are a series of presumptions with respect to residency. These presumptions assist the campuses in making residency decisions. If one of the presumptions applies to you, you will bear the burden of overcoming the presumption with clear and convincing evidence. Because each case is unique it is generally difficult to say precisely what acts will suffice to overcome a presumption.

  • To overcome a presumption, you will have to show significant acts beyond those often taken by students. In general, it will be difficult to overcome a presumption of out-of-state status.
  • If you are planning to be outside of Montana for more than 30 days during the applicable residency period, you should discuss the matter with the Admissions Office or the Registrar’s Office to determine how your absence will affect your residency status.

Exceptions to the Residency Requirement

In addition to acquiring in-state status based on residency, you may be eligible for in-state status based on one or more exceptions provided for in Regents’ policy.

Because they are exceptions, these additional means of acquiring in-state status will be strictly construed. It is important to note that in-state status under an exception will be lost if you no longer meet the requirements for the exception to apply. Consequently, if you can also meet the requirements for in-state status based on the applicable residency establishment period, it is to your advantage to be classified based on residency rather than on an exception.

Classification and Appeals

All presently enrolled students have a classification, and all applicants for admission will be classified by the appropriate college, university, or program upon receipt of their applications. The initial classification can be appealed. Students are permitted to petition for reclassification at any time. To be eligible for in-state status for fee purposes at one of the System campuses, you must meet the requirements for such status on or before the fifteenth instructional day for the school term for which the status is sought

Reclassification is not automatic, and you must seek reclassification through the petition process. It is your responsibility to meet any filing deadlines that are imposed by the appropriate System campus or program. All students should check with the appropriate campus or program to determine the time limits for filing. The appeal process is given in the Regents’ policy.

Eligibility for certification as a Montana resident for purposes of application to the professional student exchange programs, including, but not limited to WICHE, WWAMI, Minnesota Dental or WIMU, requires applicants to meet the applicable residency requirements by the certification deadline the year prior to entering professional school.

The determination of your residency status will be based on the residency questionnaire. You should carefully answer the questionnaire. Any incorrect or false responses may result in retroactive reclassification. If you believe there are factors in your case that will not be revealed by the responses called for by the questionnaire, you should feel free to provide a description of these factors. You should provide documentation to support your responses if you are seeking in-state status (i.e., supply photocopies of your driver’s license, voter registration, car registration, etc.).

Student Guide to Montana Residency Policy