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Helpful Definitions

The terms below will help you understand the process of residency classification: 


Bona Fide Domicile - A person's true, fixed and permanent state of residence; the place a person intends to remain and return to. A student seeking residency classification must demonstrate that the claimant has established bona fide domicile in Florida rather than maintaining a temporary residence incident to enrollment at the university. 

Claimant - The person demonstrating evidence of establishing and maintaining a permanent legal residence in Florida for a minimum of 12 months. The claimant can be the student or the individual on whom the student is basing his/her residency. In the latter case, the claimant can be the student's parent, legal guardian or spouse. 

Declaration of Domicile - An affidavit filed with the Clerk of Court's office in the Florida county of residence that indicates the signatory is establishing a permanent, fixed residence in Florida and has relinquished legal ties with the previous state of residence. The filing date is evaluated in lieu of an issue date when this document is submitted as a legal tie to substantiate Florida residency. 

Dependent Student - Someone who relies on a parent or other individual to provide a minimum of 51 percent of their support. Whether or not the student lives with the parent, they are considered dependent if the parent is eligible to claim the student for federal income tax purposes. Dependent students are considered legal residents of the same state as their parents. Graduate student are considered independent unless they can clearly demonstrate otherwise.

Independent Student - A student is considered independent if one of the following conditions is satisfied:

  • The student is 25 years old, or
  • The student is married or has a dependent child, or
  • The student is considered emancipated by virtue of the fact they are self supporting.


Students who claim to be self-supporting must clearly demonstrate that they provide a minimum of 51 percent of their own support. They must also convincingly document the following:

  • Parents, relatives or friends make no provisions for their support, and
  • Parents no longer claim them as a dependent for income tax purposes, and
  • Parents are no longer eligible to claim them as a dependent for income tax purposes.


Note: Receipt of monetary gifts, personal loans or financial support in the form of room, board or other expenses from the student's parents, other relatives, significant other or friends demonstrates that the student lacks independence and is financially dependent upon others. In such cases, the student is not considered independent. 

Legal Guardian - A legal guardian is appointed by the Florida courts. If the claimant is the court-appointed legal guardian, the student must submit a copy of the court decree naming the claimant as their guardian. A person other than a parent who claims the student as a dependent for income tax purposes is not considered the student's legal guardian. 

Legal Ties to the State of Florida - At least one such document must be dated/issued at least 12 months prior to the first day of the semester for which Florida residency is sought. No single document shall be conclusive. The student or claimant must also demonstrate an absence of legal ties to another state. Continued legal ties to another state contradict claims of an established domicile in Florida.

Legal ties to Florida can be demonstrated with

  • Florida driver's license
  • Florida vehicle registration
  • Florida vehicle title
  • Florida voter's registration
  • Declaration of domicile
  • Proof of purchase of a permanent home in Florida
  • Florida occupational/professional license
  • Florida incorporation or other evidence of legal residence


Physical Presence – A student's physical presence in Florida for the requisite 12 months and maintenance of a place of residence is critical to support the claim of bona fide residence. For reclassification, physical presence is substantiated through continuous enrollment for the three terms prior to the term for which reclassification is sought. For periods of nonenrollment, a student must document physical presence in Florida with proof of purchase of a permanent home, a lease, rent receipts and utility bills.



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