Homeless students pay out-of-state tuition

Can a homeless student be a resident of California?

Without documentation with a California address on it, California Community Colleges don’t recognize these students as residents of the state and charge $242 of out-of-state tuition per unit in addition to other enrollment fees.

Before California community college students can enroll in classes, they must register through CCCApply. Students who register successfully receive a welcome that includes their School Identification Number, school email and campus resources. However, if a student self-identifies as homeless in their application, they will receive a separate email notifying them of their non-resident status outlining how much they will be paying for out-of-state tuition.

“CCCApply has been set up in a way that, at least for now, that if you don’t have an address or if you use an out of the state address, the system itself codes you as an out-of-state student, unfortunately,” Pierce Registrar Lorena Lopez said.

After being determined as non-residents, these students must fill out a Supplemental Residency Questionnaire and bring at least two documents from a provided list proving their state residency, including a California driver’s license, auto registration, savings and checking accounts in California banks and receipts for paid utility bills.

These students are prompted to email or visit Admissions and Records to reverse the decision. Once students are there and submit their paperwork, they are referred to the Financial Aid office to meet with Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Anafe Robinson.

While there is no additional funding for homeless students, an additional benefit these students receive is provided by AB 806. This bill allows students who are coded as homeless to receive priority registration.

“They have an appointment to see me and there’s paperwork that they normally fill out, and if they are in that [homeless] status, then I code them appropriately and in our system,” Robinson said. “And that will then include the student in the priority registration process, so we can track them. Then I assist the students with their financial aid to make sure that it’s done or completed in a timely manner. So I track them to make sure that they do receive their funding because they are in need of funding right away.”

Once coded as homeless, students can go to Lopez, who can change their residency status. Once that is changed, their cost of tuition will be updated and their priority registration status will take effect.

“So if it happens right in the middle of the spring, just to give an example,” Lopez said, “I have the power to backdate that status all the way to the beginning of the semester in order for the students to receive the benefit from the beginning of the semester.”

Lopez explained that the state is trying to identify homeless students in a better way, so they are not initially coded as out-of-state.

Since it a statewide system, Lopez said that this is not a problem secular to Pierce, it is a result of the CCCApply configuration.

“I just know that here’s the chance to correct this, and so we’ll focus on that part,” Interim President Larry Buckley said.

Buckley brought up this matter up at the President’s Council meeting on May 10.

Until CCCApply develops a new way to accurately code the residency status of homeless students, the current system remains.