Some Students Walking Down the Aisle to Save on Tuition

The University of California-Berkeley is considered one of the best universities in the United States, so it is no surprise that students from all across the world compete to get a lucky spot into the university. Economically, for students that reside in the state of California, tuition is much lower than for those that are coming from places outside of the state who are required to pay additional out-of-state tuition fees. The tuition for students who live out of state is $22,000 more per year, and that is leading students to do anything they can to get out of paying that pesky additional $22,000 add-on.

According to an article posted in The New York Times, that "anything" students will do includes getting married. Even though the students who are getting married to save on tuition costs aren’t technically breaking or violating any laws, most of these students aren’t really willing to discuss their decisions and talk about why they have done this. One student, who chose to stay anonymous for fear of repercussions from the university, talked about how she couldn’t afford the tuition fees so she made a post on Facebook to find a husband. The couple, who had never met prior to the post, met and wed before her junior year and divorced after she graduated. The female student claims the marriage saved her an estimated $50,000 in tuition costs.

Students that reside outside of the state must meet three requirements to establish residency, the article stated. Those requirements are physical presence, intent to stay, and financial dependence, the latter of which is the most complicated process and can take at least two years to prove and therefore is the hardest of the three to achieve. But when students get married, they can claim themselves as independent if their parents do not claim them as dependents for tax purposes. After that, the rest of the requirements can be met fairly easily. University officials said they were not aware of students marrying for tuition purposes and that students that had valid marriage licenses were accepted as proof of their marriage without further questions.

While many couples weren’t willing to admit or discuss their decisions to marry to ease tuition costs, The Bay Citizen, a California newspaper, was able to identify nine couples that verified their reason for marriage. Just those nine couples identified alone cost the university an estimated $350,000 in out-of-state tuition. Another student, Elaine Davis, moved to California after being accepted into Berkeley in 2006. After trying to establish residency by registering to vote in California, getting a California driver’s license, filing her own taxes in the state, and working full time in California, Davis was denied residency. Davis then married a childhood friend and said that she saved $38,000 in out-of-state tuition over the course of two years.

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