It's time to send your child back to school (or perhaps to school for the first time), and all enrollment applications require a residential address for each student. But if you decide to use a relative's address on his or her school enrollment papers, you may be heading for a heap of legal trouble.
Do your homework first. Here are some of the potential legal consequences if you're caught using a relative's (or a friend's, or anyone else's) address for school:
Using Relative's Address Is Probably Fraud
With the competitive atmosphere surrounding certain school districts, it may be tempting to say that your child lives in a certain area to obtain access to safer or better-funded school districts. However, unless your child truly lives at that other address, by intentionally misleading the school as to your child's place of residence, you are likely committing fraud.
Fraud charges can range from misdemeanors with no jail time, to felonies with the possibility of prison. In addition to fraud, each state may place additional criminal charges on a parent who falsifies official records, like a signed enrollment affidavit.
If your child is legitimately splitting time between your household and another (e.g., joint custody) during a school year, contact the school district you wish to enroll your child in for information on how to best report that information. Remember, fraud requires an intent to deceive or mislead, if you do your due diligence to truthfully inform the school of your situation, you should be in the clear.
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In-State Tuition With Relative's Address
Many states will require some prior proof of residency for students who wish to apply for in-state tuition in the coming year. While states like California have made in-state tuition available to undocumented children, most states still require some proof that you have resided there for at least a year.
Much like public school enrollment fraud, it is also likely fraud to list a relative's address as your own prior address in order to obtain in-state tuition. Not only is this a crime, but your university may choose to revoke your enrollment. This may solve your problem of how to deal with tuition, but you may have to adjust your long-term education goals.
Don't attempt to trick you or your child's school regarding your place(s) of residence. If you need help untangling school policies and your living situation, consult with an experienced education attorney near you.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Residency Fraud (San Francisco Public Schools)
- Calif. Will Allow In-State Tuition for Illegals (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- A Back-to-School Legal Checklist for Parents (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Calif. Supreme Court: Illegal Immigrants Can Pay In-State Tuition (FindLaw's Decided)