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Website Gives Students College-Completion Rate Comparisons

As high school seniors weigh their college offers this spring, there is a new online resource to compare college-completion rates, institution spending per student, and other data to help make an informed choice.

The website is produced by The Chronicle of Higher Education with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It tells consumers which schools are doing the best job of graduating their students. Readers get information about a specific school's track record for completion, along with comparisons of comparable institutions. It also lists student aid per recipient, median SAT scores, portion of the faculty who are full time, and freshman retention rates.

The numbers are estimates based on an analysis by the Chronicle of the entering fall 2004 class at 3,800 colleges. Because of the way the federal government counts graduation, the numbers don't include part-time students.

Students can search for institutions (public, private, and for-profit) by state, as well. Data are broken down by gender and race.

The public universities with the best graduation rates (within six years) are:
-University of Virginia, 92.7 percent
-University of California, Berkeley, 91.1 percent
-University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, 89.7 percent

The top community colleges' completion rates with more than 500 freshmen are:
-Alvin Community College, Alvin, Texas, 74.6 percent
-Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, S.D., 73.5 percent
-De Anza College, Cupertino, Calif., 59.8 percent.

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