By Jon Delano


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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania resident Rachel Higgins’ first choice was Penn State, but according to the university, she is not actually a resident of the state.

Higgins lost her father to cancer and when she came to Penn State, she got more bad news.

“When I came to Penn State, I had lived with my mom in New Jersey and then at the end of my freshman year, she died of cancer as well,” Higgins told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

Alone, in May of 2016 she moved to Pennsylvania to live with her cousin’s family.

But more than a year later, Penn State refuses to accept her Pennsylvania residency, which would reduce her tuition.

“To them, I’m a New Jersey resident and to New Jersey, I’m a Pennsylvania resident,” says Higgins.

Higgins pays Pennsylvania taxes, has a driver’s license and is also registered to vote in Pennsylvania.

But, Higgins says Penn State still doesn’t consider her a resident.

In a statement to KDKA, Penn State’s L. Reidar Jensen in the Office of Strategic Communications said, “We understand the challenges in this case and we sympathize with her situation. Our office of student aid is committed to helping students find need- and merit-based support and is interested in exploring options with her.”

But so far, Penn State offers just one solution: to drop out and return next year.

“If I were to drop out, I could return next year and get in-state [tuition], but I would have to take the year off,” says Higgins.