Long (long) time lurker first-time poster here. Any input will go a long way in helping me decide which program is best suited to my personal situation.
I am an Indian applicant looking to move to the US somewhat long-term . I am a lawyer by training and since graduating from law school I have worked as a policy professional for the past 3 years in not for profit thinktanks in India. My focus areas have been access to health, cybersecurity and judicial reforms, but I am sector and subject agnostic as I enter grad school.
I have received admits from the following schools
1. Michigan Ford - no aid
2. Chicago Harris - no aid
3. Georgetown McCourt - 15000 per year in aid (tuition is 55k py)
4. George Washington Trachtenberg - 20000 per year in aid (tuition is 35k py)
5. Columbia SIPA - 12000 per year in aid (60k py tuition)
6. Fletcher MALD - 20000 per year in aid (45k py tuition)
I have ruled out Michigan, SIPA and Chicago since thy are not financially viable even though I am still wowed by Chicago's program. I have been advised to turn down George Washington despite the aid since the school does not have as much international recognition, in the event that I won't be able to stay on in the US. Am I being misled? Does the programs raking or eliteness make that much of a difference? My focus after graduating is definitely securing employment and staying on in the US (it will be insanely difficult to pay back this kind of money on a public service job in my domestic currency).
I am now attempting to choose between Georgetowns MPP and Fletchers MALD. Is Georgetown's DC location worth pay twice as much as I would at Fletcher? Is the MPP degree more marketable in the long-term than an MALD degree? I enjoy being a generalist and am looking to gain skills that can be applied across sectors. That said will the heavier quant training at an MPP/MPA program make me more employable? I have mostly worked in academia and non-profits, and am now interested in exploring private sector (but still have good work-life balance). I am also second guessing rejecting Columbia's offer since some people have advised that being in NY will serve me well as an international student, and that I can recoup costs by taking up a consulting job. Likewise I am worried that I am making a huge mistake turning down GWUs scholarship.
Any advice or insight you are able to provide will be really helpful. (Hoping @Prester John and @ExponentialDecay will comment. Thanks.