Definition of a Parent

Contact a Residence Deputy

Please contact a Residence Deputy if you have any questions about the definition of parent or parent information that may be required for a determination of a student's residence.

UC Residence Policy and Guidelines

See Terms and Definitions in the UC Residence Policy and Guidelines.

The UC Residence Policy defines parent as the natural or adoptive father or mother or, if both parents are deceased, the legal guardian with whom the minor resides. The term “parent” does not include step-parents or foster parents, unless expressly noted.

Deceased Parents

A minor student may establish a residence when both parents are deceased and no legal guardian has been appointed. Until the minor does so, the student’s residence remains that of the last living parent. If the last parent to die was a resident of California, the student will remain a resident of California. If the last parent to die was not a resident of California, the student must establish his residence in California in the same manner as an adult student.


A guardianship is a legal relationship created when a person or institution named in a will or assigned by the court to take care of minor children.* Residence Deputies may request verification of court-appointed guardianship to determine whether the adult can be a considered in determining the student’s residence for tuition purposes. If a guardian is appointed for a minor after the death of his parents, the minor will take the residence of the guardian.

Guardianship Ends at Age 18

The guardianship of a minor remains under court supervision until the child reaches majority at 18.

Under UC Residence Policy, adult students cannot derive residence from a spouse, registered domestic partner, or parents. To be classified a resident for tuition purposes, a student who has emancipated and is not dependent on a California-resident parent must demonstrate financial independence (total self-sufficiency) in addition to physical presence and intent.

The Residence Deputy determination will be made based on all of the information provided.


A stepparent refers to a person who has married one’s parent after the death or divorce of the other parent. A spouse of the parent becomes a stepparent to the child when the child is not biologically related to the person.

Residence Deputies will request verification of adoption by a stepparent to determine whether the stepparent adult can be a considered in determining the student’s residence for tuition purposes. Certain exemptions from Nonresident Supplemental Tuition include stepparents as eligible adults. See Members of the Military Exemptions.

Foster Parents

Residence Deputies require verification of the student’s being or having been a dependent or ward of the state through California’s child welfare system by either:

  1. A juvenile dependency court document indicating foster care in California’s child welfare system (court order establishing court jurisdiction or court order terminating jurisdiction), or
  2. A letter from the (county) director of human services verifying student was under care of Dept. of Social Services.

Foster Care Ends at Age 18 or at High School Graduation

Children age-out of foster care at age 18 or when they graduate from high school, whichever happens first. This event is referred to as emancipation. 

Notwithstanding any other provisions, a student who resides in California and is 19 years of age or under at the time of enrollment, and who is currently a dependent or ward of the state through California’s child welfare system, or was served by California’s child welfare system and is no longer being served either due to emancipation or aging out of the system, shall be entitled to a resident classification as long as he or she remains continuously enrolled. See Dependent or Ward of State through CA Child Welfare System (Foster Youth).