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American MPP v Humphrey MPP v La Follette MPA

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It is almost decision time, and after reading everything related to all the schools I am considering I am still so confused and need help.

I have narrowed my options to three schools, taking out Maryland and Evans because I am not going to get any money from them. That leaves Humphrey-MPP, La Follette-MPA, and American SPA-MPP.

Background: I am from MN and plan to focus on social policy.

Minneapolis is the best city for me- point for Humphrey, but the problem is that I know I would be fine (who knows, maybe better than fine) in both Madison and DC. DC of course has a million opportunities, but then again it also has the ultra ambition folks, my main reservation about the city.

The best school for me is La Follette, the highest ranking, especially well known for social policy. I know Humphrey is really well regarded in the Midwest as well. American I am more uncertain about; does anyone know if it’s actually a good school?

The best price is American. For the total two years I would only have to take out 7000 in loans, for La Follette its about 20000, and for Humphrey its 26000 (although I am on a waitlist for a scholarship). All of these are acceptable amounts to take out in loans, although the thought of less than 10000 in loans is so good (and I might be able to put away 5000-10000 this summer to cover that anyway…).

So I just want some outside opinions on weighing these factors. City is the least important. It’s really a balance between financial concerns and quality of school. I really want to better understand just how American stacks up academically.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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I'm currently a La Follette student (first year MPA) - feel free to message me with any questions.

I didn't apply to the Humphrey school, but I did weigh GW (for the "DC experience") vs. La Follette, and I'm so happy with my decision to go with UW Madison. In terms of loans - since our program is small, there are ample opportunities to find a PAship/RAship with full tuition remission and a stipend in your second year, so keep that in mind. I believe 75 - 80% of the second year cohort found such opportunities. I would also say that you find the "ultra ambition folks" EVERYWHERE in policy schools - but if you are looking for folks with specific social policy-minded interests, La Follette's your school.

To conclude my (merited) plug for La Follette, I'll add that all are great schools, and most public policy/affairs programs are similar in design, structure, and basic tools that you will gain. Money is definitely important - not everything, but important - and if you are passionate about certain policy areas, I'm certain you will find avenues to pursue those interests at any of your options.

Congrats on your admissions!

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I have decided to drop American from my decision, the only reason I was really considering it is because they gave me tons of money and that's hard to turn down, but I know I want to work in the Midwest at a state/local level, so clearly American is not best for that.

Now deciding between Humphrey and La Follette is difficult. It is good to know that that La Follette has so many opportunities to get second year funding. People I know from both programs rave about their experiences. The cities are comparable (state capitol is important), although I love the Twin Cities a million times more than Madison, and plan on working there after graduation. The trouble is since I am on a wait-list for a scholarship at Humphrey, I don't feel like I can make a decision until I find out about it. I feel like I’m gambling. Without funding La Follette is cheaper and they have more opportunities to gain funding second year. But if this scholarship at Humphrey is more substantial then I want to go there, but I probably won’t know if I get it until after April 15th. I guess my only option is to wait until Humphrey will tell me something, I’ve emailed them to ask how much it would be and where I am on the wait-list. Do schools often give that information?

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