Thanks for your input! I think right now my decision is pretty clear. Rutgers is definitely seeming like a run don't walk away from situation.
I am a current PhD student in Finance at Rutgers Business School. We take Micro I and Math Econ (and any econ electives) with the Econ PhD students and I got to know some of the econ students. We discussed differences between our programs and I can confirm a lot of the issues with Rutgers Econ. About 40-50% attrition in quals. PhD student funding is an issue for the entire University - even the B-school funds <50% of first year students which is almost unheard of for a top 50ish B-school. A lot of internal politics behind that issue. Some students complained about lack of faculty support/attention for first and second year students. One student said that 4th-6th year students complained that departmental job market support is less than stellar, though individual profs do help their own students.
There are a number of excellent faculty members in the department, and their econometrics group, while small is pretty strong but I would advise anyone with a funded offer at any roughly equivalent Econ PhD program -you got into UMD AREC which meets this criteria- to take the other offer even if funded at Rutgers. I might even say to take a funded MSU Ag Econ admit over a funded Rutgers Econ admit.
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