Low per credit Cost vs brand name for a PhD entry

<p>I am international student trying for full time masters in economics in USA. My goal is entry into a PhD program in business. My main concern : Cost of masters program vs value of the program towards my PhD application. I am **trying for masters in economics **after a few profs advised me to do so for the kind of research I am interested in, in order to strengthen my appln for a PhD prog.</p>

<p>My profile
Undergraduate degree grades(from India) : poor. 57%, a second class in India
Work Ex : Business Intelligence, 5 years. Did well.Passed some coveted internationally accepted certification exams in Project Management.
Distance learning MBA from India just completed.Good Grades here. A overall and A+ in maths,managerial economics and some of my finance majors. 2 years program and $650 only, recognized by Govt of India. </p>

<p>Now would it be better to concentrate on trying for a school with cheap per credit cost and living expenditure, not worry of the competitive value of the school in the job market and bank on a good GRE score and good grades in masters for an entry into a good PhD program?
Take a whole different approach. Go for a reputed school,possibly with higher costs for my masters. Advantage : PhD entry in the same school will be easier.</p>

<p>What do PhD programs look for, a heavy weight school or good grades in an application?.........I got a positive response from Western Kentucky university(Gordon ford college of business) and South Dakota State University, especially on my work ex. I had sent my work ex and educational docs to them to recommend my chances into their masters program. They have low tuition rates haven't they?</p>

<p>With a poor undergraduate record I don't feel its wise for me to bank on tuition waivers, scholarships or my chances with a highly reputed school. I mostly probably will have go into debt pursuing a master's course. A debt I plan to carry into my PhD,through it and handle it post PhD.</p>