For families seeking to maximize their investment in college, it is wise to compare completion and retention rates for potential schools. Two recent U.S. News and World Report posts reflect upon important aspects of student progress toward completion: freshman retention rate and 4-year graduation rate.

When taken together, both statistics reflect that, in general, expensive, exclusive schools, have a better record of retaining students and guiding them to 4-year degree completion. This suggests that a more expensive school, in the right context, might be a better choice for financial reasons–there can be a big difference between the costs of a slightly more expensive school for four years versus a slightly less expensive school for five or six years.

If you’re interested in comparing colleges and universities on freshman retention rates and on four-, five-, and six-year completion rates, the articles won’t be particularly helpful. (The articles simply highlight some high ranking and some low ranking schools.) Instead, use College Results, which is our research team’s favorite free, user-friendly function for such comparisons. When on College Results, you can choose which schools you want to compare. Then, once you begin the comparison, click on the “Retention and Progression Rates” tab. That tab provides the most recent Department of Education statistics on these topics in an easy-to-digest format.