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HELP! MSEE Full funding top 50 school?


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Hi guys, first post on GradCafe!


I am planning to apply to an MSEE program for admission in Fall 2015. I am currently a Senior in EE at a top 50 University (on the lower end of top 50). My situation is a bit unique though and I was hoping I could get some clarification or advice on here.


I am an international student. When I first came to the US, I experienced a huge culture shock followed by a pneumonia etc. I pretty much had a rough first year. However, I have since improved drastically - got all A's in my upper level EE courses. I currently have a 2.80 gpa but I should graduate in the 3.0~3.2 gpa range if all goes well. 


I have not done GREs as yet but got 160Q 152V on my diagnostic test. I will have almost a year of research experience when I apply and hopefully better GRE scores (166+Q, 160+V), I am currently Vice President of a student organization on campus and I started my own small business at home a year ago. Also, I will be able to obtain great recommendations from my professors who are distinguished IEEE fellows.


I really am leaning towards pursuing my MSEE at UPenn or Columbia. However, my current research advisor is (tentatively) offering me full funding +  stipend at my current school. Full funding is very enticing but it has been my dream to be admitted to a top 20 program; preferably at one of the schools I mentioned.


Should I just suck it up and stay here to complete my MS for free or incur 40k+ in student loans?


Also, is it possible to get into these programs (UPenn or Columbia) given my stats? (The professors who I will be getting recommendations from both went to UPenn).


Thanks in advance your responses!

Edited by zj868
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