Residency is determined by the state of California when you apply for admissions to San Diego Mesa College and is used for tuition purposes. If you are a nonresident, you will pay nonresident tuition in addition to the enrollment fee and other fees for credit classes. Determine your residency status and explore possible exemptions. Please be aware that the following summary outlines the residency determination rules, which are subject to change. It is important to note that the documentation required for submission may vary on an individual basis. Please be sure to contact our Residency office before submitting any documenation. You can inquire about your residency status by emailing Please be sure to include your 10 digit college ID number in your email along with a photo of a government issued ID.

Determine Your State Residency Status

If you are married or at least 18 years old and under no legal restriction, you may establish residence. Certain minors may also establish residence. The residence determination date is the day immediately preceding the first day of classes for each semester.

  • To be considered a California resident, you must have resided in the state for more than one year prior to the residence determination date and show “intent” to make the state of California your permanent residence.

Factors Considered to Determine Residency

To determine your residency status, you will need to demonstrate both your physical presence in California as well as your intent to establish permanent residence in the state. These can be achieved through proof of your engagement in the following activities:

  • Filing California state income taxes as a resident
  • Possessing a California driver's license and a vehicle registered in California
  • Voting in California
  • Owning residential property in California for personal use
  • Being licensed to practice a profession in California
  • Having an active checking and/or savings account in a California bank account
  • Showing California on military records (Leave and Earnings Statement)
  • Possessing a marriage license or a divorce decree issued in California
  • Having paid nonresident tuition in another state

Explore Exceptions to Residency Requirements

There are several exceptions to the residency rules. They include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Active duty military personnel stationed in California
  • Dependents of active duty military personnel stationed in California
  • Certain minors who stayed in California when their parents moved
  • Self-supporting minors
  • Full-time employees of the college or a state agency, or a child or spouse of the full-time employee

Assembly Bill AB 540

Assembly Bill 540 exempts eligible nonresident students from paying nonresident tuition. Students who meet the criteria must file an affidavit with the college stating that you have filed an application to legalize your immigration status. You may be eligible if:

  • You have attended high school in California for three or more years
  • You have received a high school diploma or equivalent, including certification of graduation from a California high school
  • You have registered as an entering student at, or concurrent enrollment at an accredited institution of higher education in California

California DREAM Act

  • The California Dream Act of 2011 became law through the passage of two Assembly Bills, AB 130 and AB 131.
  • AB 130 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria to apply for and receive non-state funded scholarships for public colleges and universities.
  • AB 131 allows students who meet AB 540 criteria to apply for and receive state-funded financial aid such as institutional grants, community college fee waivers, Cal Grant, and Chafee Grant.
  • Students eligible under AB540 may complete the California DREAM Act Application.

Incorrect Classification

If you are incorrectly classified as a California resident, you are subject to reclassification as a nonresident and required to pay all nonresident tuition. If incorrect classification results from false or misleading facts, you may be excluded from classes or the college upon notification.


You are responsible for requesting a reclassification of your residence status. Financial independence during the current year and preceding two years will be considered at the time you request reclassification. Tuition may not be refunded to a student classified as a nonresident due to lack of documentation if, at a later date, documentation is presented for a previous semester. Information regarding requirements for reclassification is available in the Residency Office in Admissions.


To appeal a residency determination decision, you may file a Residency Determination Appeal form with the college Admissions Supervisor.

For information on how to receive CA resident status, call the Residency office at 619-388- 2688 or email

False Information

Providing false information necessary for establishing residency will result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the college.