If I'm reading Shapiro v. Thompson correctly, US states are not allowed to require a period of residence before providing welfare benefits to US citizens. But doesn't this mean that charging different tuition rates to out-of-state students is unconstitutional as well? Has anyone attempted to challenge the discrimination of non-resident students under that precedent?

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Shapiro v. Thompson was overruled in part by Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651 (1974). See the Wikipedia article. In Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441 (1973), the court notes and did not object to durational residence requirements imposed by states to qualify for the benefits of lower university tuition.

In Vlandis the Court wrote:

Like many other States, Connecticut requires nonresidents of the State who are enrolled in the state university system to pay tuition and other fees at higher rates than residents of the State who are so enrolled. Conn. Gen.Stat.Rev. § 1329(b) (Supp. 1969), as amended by Public Act No. 5, § 122 (June Sess.1971). The constitutional validity of that requirement is not at issue in the case before us. What is at issue here is Connecticut's statutory definition of residents and nonresidents for purposes of the above provision.


The appellees do not challenge, nor did the District Court invalidate, the option of the State to classify students as resident and nonresident students, thereby obligating nonresident students to pay higher tuition and fees than do bona fide residents. The State's right to make such a classification is unquestioned here. Rather, the appellees attack Connecticut's irreversible and irrebuttable statutory presumption that, because a student's legal address was outside the State at the time of his application for admission or at some point during the preceding year, he remains a nonresident for as long as he is a student there. This conclusive presumption, they say, is invalid in that it allows the State to classify as "out-of-state students" those who are, in fact, bona fide residents of the State.


It may be that most applicants to Connecticut's university system who apply from outside the State or within a year of living out of State have no real intention of becoming Connecticut residents, and will never do so. But it is clear that not all of the applicants from out of State inevitably fall in this category. Indeed, in the present case, both appellees possess many of the indicia of Connecticut residency, such as year-round Connecticut homes, Connecticut drivers' licenses, car registrations, voter registrations, etc.; and both were found by the District Court to have become bona fide residents of Connecticut before the 1972 spring semester.


In sum, since Connecticut purports to be concerned with residency in allocating the rates for tuition and fees in its university system, it is forbidden by the Due Process Clause to deny an individual the resident rates on the basis of a permanent and irrebuttable presumption of nonresidence when that presumption is not necessarily or universally true in fact, and when the State has reasonable alternative means of making the crucial determination.


Our holding today should in no wise be taken to mean that Connecticut must classify the students in its university system as residents for purposes of tuition and fees just because they go to school there. Nor should our decision be construed to deny a State the right to impose on a student, as one element in demonstrating bona fide residence, a reasonable durational residency requirement, which can be met while in student status. We fully recognize that a State has a legitimate interest in protecting and preserving the quality of its colleges and universities and the right of its own bona fide residents to attend such institutions on a preferential tuition basis.

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