U’s definition of resident is unclear

Students shouldn’t assume residency, and the University should clarify its policy.

If you think you’re a Minnesota resident in the eyes of the University, you might want to think again.

Even people born and raised in the state might not be considered residents, because the University doesn’t define the term the same way as other non-University agencies. According to the University’s residency policy, a person who is a Minnesota resident for voting or taxes might not be considered a resident when it comes to tuition and admission.

The University’s basic definition of residency states: “Resident status is granted to students who are permanently residing in Minnesota and who have been physically and continuously present in the state of Minnesota for at least one calendar year prior to the first day of class attendance at the University; and who, during this one-year period, have resided in Minnesota for some reason other than primarily to attend classes at a post-secondary educational institution.”

Students should be aware of these policies before depending on them, because it could be financially dangerous to depend on assumptions.

But the University should also be more flexible in its determination of residents versus nonresidents. Residents are allowed temporary absences if they are enrolled in a full-time, accredited post-secondary institution or are on active duty. However, should you want to travel for more than one calendar year, your status becomes questionable. Absences from the state, even temporary, that last longer than one year jeopardize in-state tuition.

Of course, the University leaves room for students who leave the state to work for federal agencies like Peace Corps, but that doesn’t include students who might choose to work for Teach for America or spend a year practicing a second language in another country.

Any of these students might have a difficult time receiving residency status should they decide to attend the University, despite having paid taxes for earlier years or voting in the state.

Students who move away from campus to live elsewhere for short periods of time still contribute and have contributed to the state’s economy. The University should try to retain residents, rather than make them file appeals or provide a laundry list of proof of residency.