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A bit more complicated than that, but a big part of the choice. I've been given funded offers to two programmes: one private in Texas, and one public in Washington state. The private university has deep pockets, and has offered me a) about $5k more stipend per year than the public, and b) an extra year of guaranteed funding (so 3 years instead of 2). My concern is that additional funding (and grants for travel, conferences, etc) might be easier to come by at the private university than at the public. In either case, it's livable, although I might be eating more noodles in Washington. I worry about the added stress of sourcing funding at both, and wonder if it's likely to be significantly easier at a private university. I know that in both cases I'll be looking for dissertation funding from outside sources (NSF, etc), but I think that is fairly common. The public university is right up there in terms of rankings, and has an excellent and well established faculty. The private university is known in some circles, but not widely, and has some good faculty although a lot younger and not nearly as established. The potential dissertation project, fieldwork, and supervision at the private university sound really excellent, but I'm still working out the specifics of the public dissertation (although the supervisor sounds just as good). Texas does not sound appealing. Like. At all. I'd give it a crack for 5-6 years for the sake of the degree, but I can't see myself being totally happy there, even with a bit more money. So: Are you likely to see more opportunities from a, say, second-tier private university over a top-range public? That might depend on faculty connections, but is it likely to matter in terms of name and the public-private divide? The Big Question: Financial security + summers doing field work on a tropical island, or an adventure in poverty + a potentially more valuable piece of paper?