Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, February 7, 2011

Marrying for Tuition Money

From the New York Times:

Students worldwide compete to attend the University of California, Berkeley, considered one of the best universities in the United States.

But economically, in-state students have a huge advantage over non-Californians, for whom tuition costs an additional $22,000 a year (as of 2010-11).

The financial stakes are so high that some out-of-state students are employing an unusual technique to meet the University of California's strict residency requirements: they’re getting married.

These marriages do not technically break any laws, but students are understandably hesitant to speak publicly about them. The Bay Citizen was able to find nine such couples.

U.C. students from out of state must meet three requirements to establish residency — physical presence, intent to stay and financial independence — a complicated process that takes at least two years. The independence test is the hardest to pass.

When students marry, they can automatically claim themselves as independent, provided their parents do not claim them as dependents on their taxes. After that, gaining in-state tuition is a breeze.

A few years ago, a student from the Midwest believed she could not afford the annual $30,000 in student fees (including $20,000 in out-of-state tuition), so she posted on Facebook that she was looking for a husband.. (The woman requested anonymity out of fear of repercussions from U.C.)

An out-of-state student whom she did not know responded to her post, and they married in 2007, the summer before her junior year. She graduated in 2009 and estimated that the marriage had saved her $50,000. The couple has divorced.

Read more here.


Hat Tip: EM

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