First, I think Penn St. is a great school and is on the rise, but I would chhose Alabama for a few reasons.
- money, you said it, bama is much cheaper
- Penn St is in the process of renovating their Carlisle campus and being in an alternate building would suck, furthermore the dual campus in State College is not in its permanent building yet, so you would be sharing with undergrads if you went to State College instead of Carlisle.
- did I mention money
- while Penn St will certainly move up, right now bama is ranked higher, T1 I think.
The only reason I can see for not choosing Alabama would be if you thought living in Tuscaloosa would suck, and I can't help you there since I have never been there. I have been to Carlisle and I love the area, State College not as nice, but Tuscaloosa =