Several states have passed legislation that allows non-resident, full-time college students to obtain hunting and/or angling licenses at the same price as state residents. The intent of these bills are to increase hunter and angler recruitment and retention within a subset of sportsmen and women which are especially prone to being restricted from hunting due to the financial realities associated with attending colleges and universities.
Several states have adopted legislation that allows non-resident, full time college students to obtain hunting and/or fishing licenses at the same price as an in-state resident. These measures are intended to maintain access to, and encourage participation in, hunting and angling for student-sportsmen and women who, due to the financial constraints faced by many students, may otherwise not be able to afford it.
These bills may also include provisions enabling students attending school out-of-state to obtain a resident license in their home state, which is often more affordable, when they return to their home state, including brief school vacations.
Points of Interest
- College hunting licenses are particularly beneficial in western states where the price of an out-of-state big game tag is costly, and the chance of being drawn for a license as an out-of-state resident is low.
- Unlike other non-resident hunters, college students spend most of their time (and money) in their college or university’s state, thus the rationale for charging significantly more for a non-resident tag does not apply to the same degree as it does for more traditional non-resident hunters.
- 29 states have implemented legislation allowing non-resident college students to purchase hunting and/or angling licenses at resident prices.
- In 2014, New Hampshire approved a college student license through the passage of HB 1290, sponsored by New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative Benjamin Lefebvre.
- In 2015, Maine adopted a college student hunting, angling, trapping license, when LD 256, sponsored by Maine Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Senator Paul Davis, became law.
- In 2017, Alabama passed House Bill 3 that allowed nonresident college students that met certain requirements in Alabama to purchase a hunting or fishing license at the same cost as an in-state resident.
- In 2018, West Virginia amended and reenacted §20-2B-7 with the passage of SB 346 which permits full-time, nonresident students attending an in-state college or university to purchase lifetime resident statewide hunting, trapping, trout fishing, and fishing licenses.
- In 2021, Governor Gianforte signed HB 647, which allows students to purchase resident-rate licenses in Montana if their home states offer resident-rate licenses to Montanans.
- In 2023, Maryland Governor Moore signed SB327/HB983 into law. This legislation allows college students to purchase a resident hunting license so long as they provide proof of enrollment in a college or university within the state.
- Additionally in 2023, with the passage of HB 33, Ohio allows full-time non-resident students, who are attending an accredited college or university in Ohio, to purchase a resident hunting license.
- The list of states that currently allow a form of the license includes: AL, AR, CO, GA, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MS, MO, MT, NH, OH, NY, NC, ND, NV, NE, NM, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI, and WY.
The following states have passed college student hunting/fishing license legislation using the language below:
- Louisiana Public Act 324: “Any person who is not a resident of the state of Louisiana but who is a full-time student enrolled in an accredited college or university that has a physical campus in the state of Louisiana may purchase a nonresident basic hunting license for the cost of a resident hunting license. Any licenses or permits that may be required in addition to the basic hunting license, such as a big game license or a duck license or a turkey license, may also be purchased for the cost of the equivalent resident license or permit.”
- Montana HB 647: “A student who is not a resident, as defined in 87-2-102, and who meets the qualifications of subsection (3) may purchase discounted hunting and fishing licenses as follows: (a) if the student’s state of residence does not offer resident-rate licenses to Montanans who are full-time college students in that state, the student may purchase the following for one-half of the cost… if the student’s state of residence offers resident-rate licenses to Montanans who are full-time college students in that state and as long as a drawing for the equivalent resident license is not required, the student may purchase for the same price as the equivalent resident license.”
The sportsmen’s community has a vested interest in ensuring that student-sportsmen remain engaged in our outdoor traditions while in school. Without college student licenses and other related programs, we risk disengaging future generations of hunters and anglers. For this reason, legislators should consider exploring supporting legislation that facilitates the continued participation of college students in our time-honored sportsmen’s activities.