Moving to a new state can be a challenging time full of new experiences, friendships, and difficulties. When attending FSU Law, students who attend from out of state can often reclassify as in-state students for residency and tuition purposes after their first year. If that is the case for you, I will walk you through the steps required with the tips and tricks I learned along the way.
Be prepared, this process can be stressful and there are a lot of steps involved. Costs may vary, but be prepared for some financial obligations for some parts of the process.
You will want to move to Tallahassee at least one to two weeks before classes begin, both because our mandatory orientation is the week before the first day of class and because you will want to have your residency paperwork competed before that first day of 1L. This is because you need 12 consecutive months of permanent legal residence in Florida to apply for residency reclassification for 2L. The effective date of your paperwork must be dated one year prior to the start of 2L classes.
While you must get the documentation for residency before your 1L year begins, you will submit sometime between June 1st after your 1L year and before the first day of 2L.
You cannot get permanent residency if you live in any university designated housing (for example, dorms). Apartment complexes that are called Student Housing but are not owned by FSU are not considered University housing.
1. Letter from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners
First, you will have to complete your copy of the letter from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners acknowledging they have received your early application to the Florida Bar. If like me, you later decide that you would prefer to take your home state’s bar, that is okay. I still recommend completing the Florida Bar process – it is not binding. This process is very involved and requires a lot of paperwork: the application itself, an original birth certificate, notarized documents, fingerprinting, and a fee. This process should be done before October 15th.
Your fingerprinting will need to be done by IdentoGo, typically around $50. You will have to schedule your appointment with them online and have them send your fingerprints to the Bar. This is a one-time process and IdentoGo does not keep your fingerprints. Later, if another job needs your fingerprints, you will not be able to have IdentoGo send them a copy.
Tip: You will receive assistance with applying during your 1L year.
Tip: When you submit this application, you want to make sure that the information you submit matches the information you provided on your law school application.
Tip: Your birth certificate cannot be a photocopy and you will not get it back. You must contact the county where you were born and go through their process to request that they mail you an original copy of your birth certificate. It may be a good idea to start this process sooner rather than later.
2. Declaration of Domicile Form
Next, you will need your Declaration of Domicile form. This can be found on the Leon County Clerk of Court website under Official Records. It will require a $15 fee and a notary. You will have to turn it in in an envelope to the box that is located on Calhoun Street. It is located at the back of the Leon County Courthouse building at the intersection of S. Calhoun St and E Jefferson St.
Tip: FSU Law has several notaries around campus.
3. Legal Ties dated to meet the 12-month period
(2 of the three are required, and a FL License/ID MUST be one)
You will need to obtain a FL License or ID Card. Currently, Florida DHSMV is appointment only, so plan to make an appointment ASAP to have this done (remember – before the first day of classes). Required documents can be found here. I brought my lease, my Social Security Card, a copy of my passport, and my NC Driver’s License.
At the DHSMV, they will ask you if you want to update your voter registration. If you are not registering your car or do not have a car, you will want to say yes to get the voter’s registration card. You will need it for residency reclassification.
One other option in this category other than the voter registration is a vehicle registration, also dated to meet the twelve month period.
Tip: If you have a married name or your last name is different from your birth name, you will have to bring your marriage certificate or your proof of name change. Before you go, make sure you have checked the Florida DHSMV website to make sure you have everything.
Tip: Contact your home state’s voter registration office to make sure you are following their policy on voter registration once you move out of state. You do not want to accidentally commit fraud by having an active voter registration in two states.
4. Physical Presence
Finally, you must have a copy of either your 12-month lease, deed, or mortgage or 12 consecutive months of utility or cable bills in your name.
When June 1st of your 1L summer comes around, you will want to start filling out the main campus residency reclassification form. You will need to compile all the documents above. If you cannot obtain your Florida Bar letter in time, you can submit an Employer verification or job offer letter with 12 months of pay stubs, or a notarized letter stating why you came to Florida (for instance, you came to Florida to be closer to family).
Tip: moving to Florida for school only is not a valid reason for permanent residency reclassification, so you will need a different valid reason if you cannot provide the Florida Bar letter or an employment contract.
In summary, when it comes time to submit your paperwork to FSU’s residency office, you will need:
- The Residency Reclassification Form
- Copies of your Florida Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration OR Voter’s Registration; you may also submit a Declaration of Domicile if you have one to provide.
- Copies of the last year’s lease and the next year’s lease OR your warranty deed OR homestead exemption
- Florida Bar (documentation showing that you have applied) OR Employer Verification with a letter from an HR representative on business letterhead OR job offer letter with 12 months of paycheck stubs showing full-time status (30 hours or more per week) OR a notarized letter stating why you came to Florida
It is important to note that reclassification applications are reviewed as follows: Summer Term on April 1st, Fall Term on July 1st, and Spring Term on November 1st.
Per Florida Statutes, because no individual document is considered conclusive and no two cases are alike, we will not be able to determine your eligibility as a Florida resident for tuition purposes until we have received all documentation in hand and reviewed it as a whole at the designated time for your selected semester. Please note: the deadline for Residency Reclassification documentation to be submitted is on the 4th day of classes for the term.