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State residency advice


oxfordny64
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Hi folks, I know there have been posts like this before but - cautious me, I guess - I want to ask the forum's advice about state residency issues when attending graduate school outside one's current state of residency. I live in Pennsylvania and will be attending graduate school in either Ohio or Maryland (still waiting for one last phonecall, you know the story...). I would prefer to keep my PA residency as I intend on returning to Pennsylvania upon completion of my degree. How long can I keep my PA residency out of state? As for cars, I have one but it is (for cheaper insurance purposes) owned by my mother and on her insurance (it's amusing paying your insurance bill to Mom Inc., which I totally write on the memo line of checks :) ). Would I not need then to worry about changing insurances on the car? As for taxes, H&R Block and turbo Tax seem to be just fine with helping people in my situation but has this been the case for you folks? Any other advice would be unbelievably appreciated!

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My university forces us to get in-state residency for tuition/fees purposes - we had to go through steps immediately upon arriving so that we will have in-state tuition at the beginning of our second year. You'll want to see if your university does something similar, and whether or not it's even possible to keep your original residency.

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My university forces us to get in-state residency for tuition/fees purposes - we had to go through steps immediately upon arriving so that we will have in-state tuition at the beginning of our second year. You'll want to see if your university does something similar, and whether or not it's even possible to keep your original residency.

 

Good thought, I'll have to ask them that. Thank you!

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I don't see why there's the need to keep PA residency, it's not like you can't get it right back if/when you move back there.

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Realities makes a good point about needing to change your residency for tuition purposes. I believe a lot of schools have significant differences between in and out of state tuition. Now, if you're not in a funded program or you're in a partially funded program, then it might not matter if there's no tuition remission. You'll just end up ponying up extra money for tuition.

Tuition aside, you can keep your PA residency if you keep your official address as one in PA. Students go to college in other states all the time. This isn't any different. Your insurance is another story. I have this problem, too, because I'm planning to move out of state for my PhD and my car is owned by my dad (and the loan is in his name). Many helpful people on the forum explained to me that you will have to tell your insurance company that you are going to school out of state so they can adjust your insurance to meet that state's laws. If you end up keeping PA residency, you can get away with not telling them (though this may technically not be legal). However, you will have to come up with an explanation of why you are in Ohio or Maryland if you get into an accident.

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Definitely check with your program. My masters program required us to have residency after one year or they would charge us the $10,000 difference for out of state tuition. 

 

They told us clearly from day one when and how we needed to do all the things to get residency- it can involve a lot of paperwork and in my case, some of that very important paperwork needed to be set in motion THE DAY I MOVED THERE. Some of the requirements were to have my car registered there for a year, so timing was important. It was a little stressful but they were good about walking us through it so we all got our paperwork in on time.

 

My point is that some programs may not be as clear or up front, so be sure you thoroughly check into whether or not it's needed and what exactly you need to do to get it. Good luck!

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I don't see what advantages you'd get from maintaining PA residency while going to school in a different state. I could maybe see it if you were trying to maintain residency in a state without a state income tax but PA has one, in addition to having locality taxes in many areas. FWIW, my car and its insurance are in my mom's name and it was never a problem that I lived in another state for grad school. Would you have to explain if there was an accident? Yes, but the insurance company doesn't really care where an accident occurs since you're paying them for coverage. It's immaterial to them whether that accident is 3 miles from your house or 1300 miles since people are known to take their cars on road trips, you know? 

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Almost all American graduate students in my program are California state residents now, regardless of their home state. I agree with rising_star, unless there is some material benefit of keeping your original state residency, I think the expectation is that grad students change state residency when they move for grad school. After all, you are living in that state now year-round. If you moved to another state for a job, you would be changing state residencies too, so what's the difference? And as Vene pointed out, when you do eventually move back, you'd just change back to PA residency. 

 

As for the car thing, many students here also have a car that is owned by their parents in another state. There should not be an issue with the insurance company if you let them know that the park is regularly parked at your address, not your parents address (although this usually results in a higher premium than if the insurance was in your name in your own state). One issue that some of my colleagues have is that some states require vehicles registered in said state to come in for an inspection every X years. So, if PA is one of these states and if you are moving far from PA, it might be a big hassle to have to drive it back for regular inspections. 

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FWIW, my car and its insurance are in my mom's name and it was never a problem that I lived in another state for grad school. Would you have to explain if there was an accident? Yes, but the insurance company doesn't really care where an accident occurs since you're paying them for coverage. It's immaterial to them whether that accident is 3 miles from your house or 1300 miles since people are known to take their cars on road trips, you know?

I mentioned the bit about an explanation if you get in an accident because car insurance rates are determined partly on where you regularly park your car at night. So if you get into an accident 3000 miles away, the insurance company might get suspicious. They will certainly asked lots of questions about why you were there, how long you've been there, etc. I think the real problem would come if you got into a second accident. I think they would be really suspicious if you went on two road trips to the same place, and it would really suck if they refused to pay your claim.

Now, Maryland and Ohio are right next door to PA, so I doubt the insurance company would question that. It would also be easy to come back to get inspections, too. Although someone on here said that inspections only matter in the state it's registered. So in theory, you wouldn't have to worry about getting an inspection unless you were planning on coming back to PA to visit.

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FWIW, shadowclaw, I haven't lived in the same state as my mom at all since we got this car and the insurance company has never asked those questions. Most recently, I had to use the tow coverage on my insurance 3 times in a month, all of which occurred over 1000 miles from where my mom lives. They asked me zero questions about why the car was there, how long it'd been there, etc. And, two of those tows were from quite literally the same address of where I presently live. So it's definitely not universally true that insurance companies would ask a ton of questions. My sister had a similar experience with her car being in our mother's name and living 3000+ miles away and getting into a few accidents. Again, no questions were asked by the insurance company (and this was a different company than the one we have now). Insurance companies are actually quite used to this scenario.

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I'm curious, rising_star... you didn't actually say that your insurance company is unaware that you live and drive in another state. I assume your drivers license is from the state you live in (since you'd need it to establish residency), not your mother's, so in that case they would have to know that you live and drive in another state. Correct me if I'm wrong.

 

What I am talking about is maintaining residency in your home state, which also means keeping your license from that state, and not informing your insurance company that you are living elsewhere for school.

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I posted a whole bunch about my actual situation then realized it was possibly way TMI for a public message board. In a nutshell, the insurance company knows what's going on. They know about different residencies (as in different places where the cars are), which state my driver's license is from (not the same state as where the car is registered, btw), etc. This is all calculated into the insurance rate being paid on the vehicle on which I am the primary driver. 

 

It's really not a huge deal as long as you work with an insurance agent to sort it all out. At one point, my mom had cars that were in her name and on her insurance in four different states (three children all going to school in different states). This was something a national insurance company (think Allstate, Geico, Liberty Mutual, etc.) has dealt with before and is prepared to handle. They are quite accustomed to students leaving for college with the vehicle they got at 16 that is still in their parent's name. 

 

For most states, re-establishing residency is a simple and relatively painless process. It only tends to get complicated if you aren't a US citizen and/or if you are trying to establish residency for tuition purposes, which isn't the same thing at all. You can move to a new place, change your driver's license and vehicle registration, and be considered a resident by them in under a month in most cases. 

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OP, Maryland law dictates that new residents register vehicles with the State and convert their DLs to Maryland DLs at around 30 days upon arrival, but nothing will happen if they don't.     

 

As far as I know, the term "resident" has no clear legal definition and for the most part is often used to refer to your current location, even if temporary and that the legal definition that is referred to, if not often used, is the term "domicile".  In Maryland, if one is in Maryland for at least 6 months, they are considered a resident for Maryland tax purposes; so this person can easily claim two residencies in this case.   In reality, a person can have more than one residence (in separate States) but only keep one domicile at a time ("domicile" and as it is sometimes referred "legal residence" are legal terms, however). 

 

Here is where things get tricky, you cannot just "give up" your domicile by simply stating that you are no longer a resident of that particular State.  You have to prove with evidence that you do not intend to move back (selling of your home, terminating employment, etc.), but to be frank I do no think that anyone actually follows this rule/law unless taxes and/or property are involved. 

 

So, bottom line is that you can get a Maryland DL, register your vehicle in Maryland, live in Maryland 12 months/year, perhaps even receive in-State tuition( as long as you are domiciled in Maryland),  and still retain a PA residency.  

 

 

I believe a lot of schools have significant differences between in and out of state tuition. Now, if you're not in a funded program or you're in a partially funded program, then it might not matter if there's no tuition remission. You'll just end up ponying up extra money for tuition.
 

With public universities, non-resident tuition is roughly double (actually, it is closer to full price as resident students are receiving a deduction).  At U Maryland, full-time grad studies will cost ~$13K/year.  Non-resident, ~$28K/year (both are tuition only, fees and such are extra).  

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Whoops, fees went up for UMD.  Non-resident tuition is now ~$32K/year (full time @ 12 credits) with an additional $750 in fees.  Health insurance is an additional $1500 on top of that.  Resident tuition is now just shy of $16K/year and with the additional $750 in fees and $1500 health insurance premium. 

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