Hi guys, so while I'm still waiting on a couple of decisions to come back, I could use some help deciding between my current options. UW and UCI are my two best options at the moment (also have a good offer from Syracuse but unless I'm very impressed with faculty meetings I'm probably going to decline). I'm interested in labor, but also macro, political economy, and economic history. I know UW is ranked higher than UCI (35 vs 47), but there are a couple of things that keep me from choosing it immediately.
Funding: UCI offered me five years of guaranteed funding, whereas UW only offered me 4 years of funding. UW said they expect the 5th year could be filled with some type of fellowship, RA work, or working in some other department, but that they simply can't guarantee department funding. This seems kinda sketch to me, especially considering the stipend isn't that much for Seattle (around 22k). If I didn't get funding for the fifth year, I'd have to take out loans for tuition and probably drain my savings for living expenses.
Placements: This is where I could really use some help. Looking at the placements for UW and UCI, I don't honestly see that big of a difference. I'd prefer to go Academia > Government > Industry, and it doesn't really look like UW has better placements than UCI overall (UCI almost appears to have slightly better placements). Is there a point to going to a higher ranked school if the placements don't seem that much better? Or am I off about UW not placing better than UCI?
Housing: This may seem like a small one, but UCI guarantees housing for graduate students, and at very good rates actually. Their stipend is around the same as UW, but due to the low cost of their graduate housing, it comes out to more effectively. I like the idea of not having to worry much about getting housing at good rates, close to the school, and with other graduate students. I know this shouldn't matter, but I also don't want to be miserable/having to dip into my savings to get housing at UW.
Location: Again, I know people say it shouldn't matter, and normally I wouldn't care too much, but part of the reason I applied to UW in the first place is because I have family nearby. I don't actually care for either location much, but aside from the proximity to family I think I'd prefer Irvine more.
Anyway, considering all of this, which do you all think is better? Appreciate the help.