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Accepted to Graduate Schools... I need to pick the right one.
So I applied to 3 graduate schools and was accepted by 2 of them (still haven't heard from the third). The two schools that accepted me both awarded me with teaching assistantship positions, which means I get free tuition plus a stipend. While this is great news, it presents an interesting problem. School A is offering me more than twice the stipend that school B is offering. In fact, I have doubts that I will be able to survive off the stipend that school B is offering, while I could live more than comfortably off the stipend from school A.
The problem is that school B is more reputable than school A. I'm very proud of the fact that school B offered me what they did, especially considering that out of all the masters students they accepted, I was one of only 2 people awarded with financial aid. However, reputable school B is not necessarily well known for the program I was admitted for, or so I've been told. I'm wondering how I can verify this claim.
Essentially, I would be more than happy to attend either of these institutions. The problem is that I don't know how else to measure one program against the other. When I applied to these schools, my main criteria was to pick the best schools in a certain region of the US. An easy answer to my question would be.... pick the one that best suits your academic interests. Well... I did that already before I even applied. Both schools offer programs that I have a great deal of interest in, so as of right now, differences in stipend and a conjecture that the lower stipend school is better is all I have to go on.
What kind of resources are available to me to do my own research about this matter?
Also, how much are these schools willing to bargain with me? What can I expect to hear if I say, "Look I have other offers better than yours, what else can you do for me?"