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Residency Eligibility for Commonwealth Scholar Program

Pennsylvania Classification

A Penn State University Dickinson School of Law student shall be classified eligible for the Commonwealth Scholar Grant if that student has a Pennsylvania domicile and that student's presence in Pennsylvania is not primarily for educational purposes.  The law school's Office of Admissions determines a student's residency status based on the information provided on each student's application.  Domicile is a person's existing and intended fixed, permanent, and principal place of residence.  A student whose presence in the Commonwealth is primarily for educational purposes shall not be eligible for the Commonwealth Scholar Grant.  The following are considerations that may be used by the University in determining whether a student is eligible for the Commonwealth Scholar Grant:

  1. A student under the age of 21 is presumed to have the domicile of his/her parent(s) or legal guardian(s), unless the student has maintained continuous residence in the Commonwealth for other than educational purposes for a period of at least 12 months immediately prior to his/her initial enrollment at Penn State Law, and, the student continues to maintain such separate residence.
     
  2. A student who has resided in the Commonwealth for other than educational purposes for at least a period of 12 months immediately preceding his/her initial enrollment at Penn State Law is presumed to have a Pennsylvania domicile.
     
  3. A student who has not resided continually in Pennsylvania for a period of 12 months immediately preceding his/her initial enrollment at Penn State Law is presumed to have a non-Pennsylvania domicile.
     
  4. A student requesting to be classified as a Pennsylvania resident for Commonwealth Scholar Grant eligibility must be a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident.  Permanent residents must have received the I-551 stamp approving their permanent resident status.  An individual in a nonimmigrant status with the USCIS is not eligible for the Commonwealth Scholar Grant.  Other extraordinary circumstances, which may qualify a student for the Commonwealth Scholars Grant, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
     
  5. A United States government employee or member of the armed forces who was a resident of Pennsylvania immediately preceding his/her entry into government service and who has continuously maintained Pennsylvania as his/her domicile will be presumed to have a Pennsylvania domicile.  Military personnel and their dependents who are assigned to an active duty station in Pennsylvania and who reside in Pennsylvania shall be eligible to receive a Commonwealth Scholars Grant.
     
  6. A student receiving a scholarship, guaranteed loan, grant, or other form of financial assistance dependent upon residence in a state other than Pennsylvania is not a Pennsylvania resident for Commonwealth Scholar Grant eligibility purposes.


Reclassification as Pennsylvania Resident

A student requesting reclassification as a Pennsylvania resident for Commonwealth Scholar Grant eligibility must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that his/her domicile is in Pennsylvania, and that his/her presence in Pennsylvania is not primarily for educational purposes.   Each request shall be decided individually on the basis of all facts submitted by the petitioner.  Accordingly, it is not possible to list a specific combination of factors or set of circumstances which, if met, would ensure reclassification for tuition purposes.

Reclassification Procedure

  1. A student may challenge his/her residence classification by filing a written petition with the Penn State Law Office of Admissions.  The admissions staff shall consider such petition and render a timely decision that shall constitute an exhaustion of administrative remedies.
     
  2. Any reclassification resulting from a student's challenge or appeal shall be effective at the beginning of the semester or session during which the challenge or appeal was filed or at the beginning of the following semester or session.  The decision as to which semester or session becomes the effective date shall rest with the person or committee rendering the decision on reclassification.
     
  3. A student who changes his/her place of residence from Pennsylvania to another state is required to give prompt written notice of this change to the Law School and shall be considered for reclassification as a non-Pennsylvanian for tuition purposes effective with the date of such change.
     
  4. A dependent resident student whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) move outside of the Commonwealth may remain a Pennsylvania resident for tuition purposes if he/she continues to maintain a separate domicile within the Commonwealth.
     
  5. Students who fail to comply with these procedures may be found to be in violation of the Penn State Law Honor Code and face sanctions as determined by the Penn State Law Honor Committee. 

Questions About Pennsylvania Residency for Eligibility for the Penn State Law Commonwealth Scholars Program

Who makes the initial determination of a student's residency status?

The Admissions Office determines a student's residency status based on the information provided on each student's application.


What is regarded as a “domicile” for determining residency classification?

Domicile is a person's existing and intended fixed, permanent, and principal place of residence.


My parent(s) own a home in Pennsylvania, does that make me a Pennsylvania resident for Commonwealth Scholar Program eligibility?

No. Ownership of real estate or payment of real estate taxes in Pennsylvania does not necessarily qualify a student for the Commonwealth Scholar Program Grant.

Residency is based on a person's domicile (a person's existing and intended fixed, permanent and principal place of residence).

Unless your parent(s) live in the home and pay PA state taxes as resident(s) of the state, ownership of real estate does not qualify a student for eligibility.


I have just married a person who is a life-long resident of the Commonwealth — am I now eligible for the Commonwealth Scholars Program?

Not necessarily. Marriage to a resident of the Commonwealth is just one factor considered in the decision regarding residency. The larger factor would be the establishment of an independent, permanent domicile in the Commonwealth.


Is it possible to be a legal resident of Pennsylvania and still be a non-resident purposes of eligibility in the Commonwealth Scholars Program?

Yes. Residency for eligibility for the Commonwealth Scholars Program is a policy of Penn State Law. While you may meet the requirements to become a registered voter or a licensed driver, you still may not qualify for the Commonwealth Scholars Program.
 

I have now lived in Pennsylvania for a year, while attending Penn State, and have registered to vote, obtained a PA driver's license, and pay Pennsylvania state taxes. Am I now a resident for tuition purposes?

Generally, unless a student has 12 months of continuous residence in the state prior to enrollment, the student is considered a non-resident.

The 12-month requirement cannot be met while attending Penn State - the student is assumed to be in the Commonwealth for educational purposes.

Although the student might be considered a resident of the Commonwealth, the student would remain as a non-resident for Commonwealth Scholar Program purposes, unless there was clear evidence that the student's circumstances had changed and that a permanent, independent domicile in Pennsylvania has been established.


Are children of Penn State University or Dickinson School of Law alumni considered residents for tuition purposes?

No. The alumni status of a student's parents or other family members does not determine his/her residency status.


I don't have a green card yet. Can I be reclassified as a resident for the Commonwealth Scholar Program?

No. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident immigrant with a green card or I-551 passport stamp to be considered for the Commonwealth Scholar Program. If you have some extraordinary circumstances you would like considered you may contact the Penn State Law Office of Admissions at admissions@law.psu.edu.


What is the deadline for filing an appeal of my non-resident status and when would it be effective?

A student has until the last day of the effective semester to file his/her petition with the Penn State Law Office of Admissions.

Any reclassification would be effective at the beginning of the semester or session during which the appeal was filed or at the beginning of the following semester or session at the discretion of the person or committee rendering the decision on reclassification.


Can I get a refund if I am reclassified and become eligible for the Commonwealth Scholars Program?

Yes. Refund requests should be directed to the Bursar's office at your campus location.


If my petition is denied, can I appeal the decision?

Yes. One appeal via written request may be made to the Penn State Law Office of Admissions, Admissions Committee. You may submit additional documentation with your request for appeal, but there is no need to resend any information previously submitted.  Requests for appeal and supporting documentation may be submitted via e-mail to admissions@law.psu.edu.

Students will be notified via e-mail of the Committee’s decision.


Is it true that as a resident of Washington, D.C. I am able to attend any public institution in the nation and be considered an in-state student for tuition purposes?

Residents of Washington, D.C. will not be considered eligible for the Commonwealth Scholars Program.