- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Penn State University has a popularity problem.

The school expects a record 8,600 freshmen at University Park this fall. So Penn State hopes a few hundred students will accept tuition breaks to study at one of its 18 other campuses instead.

They would save about $10,000 on in-state tuition and $15,000 off of out-of-state tuition.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://goo.gl/Rj9kLA) reports the savings reflect the lower tuition there and special scholarships being offered. Students can save another $5,000 if they live at a campus offering housing. Some students could save more than half the cost of attendance.

Penn State has sent the offer to about 2,800 freshmen with higher tuition bills. Tuition at University Park tops $17,500 for Pennsylvania residents and $31,000 for non-residents. Room, board and other costs add another $12,000 and up.

Joanny Rodriquez of Charlotte, North Carolina, says the discount was enough to steer her toward the Altoona campus. She still plans to visit University Park on weekends and take Air Force ROTC there.

“This is what is going to make it possible for me to go to Penn State,” she said of the offer. “It’s a lot of money. As long as I end up at University Park somehow, that’s what really matters to me.”

Cindy Whitley and her daughter, Lauren, realized the $15,000 in savings would amount to $150 a month for 10 years in loan payments. Her daughter decided to go for it.

“Then it was real to her. She understood,” said Whitley, who lives in Norristown and works in the financial aid office at Montgomery County Community College.

Nearly a third of students offered admission accepted by the May 1 deadline, which amounts to about 600 more students than last year.

“It’s definitely better than the alternative,” said Clark Brigger, executive director of undergraduate admissions.

He’s not sure what triggered the surge, similar to ones that occurred in 2006 and 1996. The university hopes 400 to 500 students will take the offer.

They are guaranteed the right to move to the main campus during their sophomore year.

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com

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