College administrators urge prospective students to fill out residency forms early

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Applying to college usually means completing several required documents.

Right now, college administrators are particularly focused on making sure prospective students complete a residency determination form through The Residency Determination Service (RDS).

The form is critical for determining if students should have in-state or out-of-state tuition.

However, administrators are worried that students aren’t taking the form’s level of importance seriously.

“If you don’t do this, you will not be able to register, you won’t even get your application in to the colleges that you want to go to, and you can’t just run down the street and do it somewhere else. It’s statewide now,” said Jean Groome, Forsyth Tech director of admissions.

Since Forsyth Tech began using RDS in March, Groome says she has seen students leave forms incomplete - some even putting in bogus information as a shortcut.

Groome emphasizes there is no shortcut as the information has to be verified.

College administrators are often the ones seeing students as they deal with the consequences.

“What we’re seeing a lot on the report are students who may have gotten an initial classification as in-state, but because they didn’t finish the process, they were automatically changed to out-of-state,” said Gwen Whitaker, director of records and registrar at Forsyth Tech.

“They’re going to say ‘I’m out-of-state,’ then you have to go through a reclassification which means sending more documentation, following through. And if you don’t do that in 25 days, regardless of what your initial classification was, they’re now flipping you to out-of-state, or you may have to start all over again,” Groome said.

Given that RDS is a third-party system, schools are limited in how they can assist students once there is a problem.

Issues have to be resolved with RDS being that school administrators don’t have access to a student’s residency determination form.

Students enrolling in the fall are being urged to complete their RDS form well in advance.

“Apply now, apply early, make sure you get it all done so if there are any questions, you have time to get it resolved. That’s the biggest thing,” Groome said.

“Once they do their residency, it’s good for every school in the state of North Carolina,” Whitaker said.