PhD CS chances: AI/ML -- suggestions ?

<p>Specialization: AI (Machine Learning/Data Mining)
Start: Fall 2014
GRE Old: 1350 (Q: 780, V: 570, AWA 3.5) [took during MS admission]
GRE New: 321 (Q: 163, V: 158, AWA 3.5) [no idea what it actually means, but this is what my-gre account says]
MS: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
MS GPA: 3.49/4.00
UGrad: a minor college in india
UGrad GPA: 3.8/4.0 [class topper, if that helps]</p>

<p>Research Experience: Worked with a professor in UMBC as an RA, did two pubs (one in ACM SIGKDD, one best paper award nomination), will get most possibly good recos from my supervisor/professors, supervisor is quite famous in my field.</p>

<p>I want to move to a new place/better school --</p>

<li>UMD, College Park</li>
<li>Georgia Tech</li>
<li>Virginia Tech</li>
<li>University of Virginia</li>
<li><p>UT Austin</p></li>
<li><p>George Mason University</p></li>
<li><p>University of Central Florida</p></li>
<li><p>Colorado State University</p></li>
<li><p>University of Wyoming</p></li>

<p>Probably the last four are safe for me, what about the first five ? Suggestions are greatly appreciated (avoiding risky schools may save my app money, will help me add some mid/low rank schools).</p>

<p>Moreover, is it ok to explain my MS gpa drop in the SOP? I had some personal/financial problem during that time (grad students are always poor, you know).</p>

<p>thanks in advance.</p>