For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to attend Auburn University. I was raised by two Auburn grads who had me chanting “War Eagle!” before I even learned my ABC’s.
I’ll never forget when I got my acceptance letter and realized the possibility of attending Auburn was so close. However, being from Virginia this meant one thing: a lot of money talks were going to be held between my parents and myself.
Prior to my parent’s final stamp of approval to allow me to attend Auburn, they sat me down and explained to me how I was going to have to help pay for my education. I was willing to do anything if it meant I got to attend Auburn, so I agreed.
Near the end of my freshman year, my dad traveled down to the plains for a visit. However, I should’ve known he was visiting me for a reason. We were going to the registrar’s office to discuss how I could help pay for my tuition.
The State of Alabama has legislation on how an individual can gain in-state residency and then have the ability to pay in-state tuition. Unlike, other universities that I briefly considered, such as The University of South Carolina, it doesn’t matter doesn’t matter how you did on you ACT/SAT, what your high school GPA was, or how many service hours you might’ve completed. That is why you’ve never seen Auburn advertise how students can get in-state tuition because the State of Alabama is looking to maintain in-state tuition for “true” residents of Alabama.
After sitting down with the registrar, I quickly learned my sophomore year was going to be a completely different experience compared to freshman year. In order to qualify for in-state tuition and residency, I would have to become a financially independent resident.
- You must be 19 years old at the time of evaluation
- You cannot be a full-time student for the duration of one year
- You may attend school part time (which is a maximum of 9 hours or less)
- You must live off campus
- You must have full-time employment for 12 consecutive months (they recommend at least 35 hours a week)
- You must generate an annual adjusted gross income of at least $10,000
- You must file Alabama 40 & Federal 1040 tax returns with an Alabama address
Even if you do all of the above, it is still possible to get denied in-state tuition and residency in the state of Alabama because they require so much in detail.
After learning all of what would be expected of me I agreed to it, as I wanted to help pay for my education. I realized my parents sending me to college was a luxury, not a given and I wanted to do everything in my power to help them out and graduate from Auburn University!
Spring of my freshman year, I started applying for jobs. Luckily I was able to get two on-campus jobs. One working in the Vice President of Alumni Affairs suite and the other was with Campus Recreation in the new Recreation and Wellness Center. It was a relief knowing when I came back for my sophomore year I already had these jobs lined up.
For the duration of my sophomore year, I still attended Auburn University as a part-time student and I continued to work full time at the Alumni Center and with Campus Recreation. As spring semester ended, I realized I would be short on earning $10,000 so I got a third job with the Mint Julep Boutique. It was a hectic summer working three jobs, but when I finally earned greater than $10,000 it felt truly worth it, in addition, the balance in my bank account was to help off-set the costs of the remainder of my college education.
When I went to the Registrar’s office that August and had my huge folder filled with all of the necessary documentation (listed below and found here) I was beyond nervous. I knew just completing all this didn’t guarantee I would gain in-state tuition and residency in Alabama.
The final checklist of things to turn in:
- The application with the checklist cover sheet
- Brief letter explaining your basis for appeal
- Certification Statement – signed/dated by student and parent
- Letter of employment verification – must include starting date, number of hours worked, withholding of Alabama, signature of employer and contact information
- Most recent Federal 1040 tax return & a copy of your parent’s as well to make sure they didn’t claim you as a dependent
- Most recent Alabama Form 40 state tax return
- Copy of an apartment lease showing you have lived in Alabama for 12 consecutive months
- Copy of Alabama driver’s license
- Copy of vehicle registration – Alabama
- Copy of voter’s registration – Alabama
- Proof of banking in Alabama
However, when the registrar looked at me and told me my appeal had been approved I immediately started crying, because I had overcome my biggest hurdle and accomplished an important goal that I had set for myself. What I decided early on — failure was not an option. I was so overwhelmed I leaned over the desk and hugged her and signed off on the remaining paperwork.
After that, I ran outside and called my dad letting him know I had been approved for residency and in-state tuition.
To this day, earning in-state tuition and residency has been my proudest accomplishment. It wasn’t easy, and I’m not quite sure I would recommend it to everyone, but I am forever grateful and thankful for my parents, roommates, employers and everyone else who helped and supported me along the way. I think my biggest take away from the process is that it showed me that I could set and accomplish a lofty goal, along with allowing me to find my inner drive and develop a work ethic that will mesh with an Auburn education and last me a lifetime.
For more information on Residency and the Registrar’s Office click here.