WASHINGTON (AP) – The president of the University of Chicago is the highest-paid president of America’s elite private universities.

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That’s according to a survey of tax information collected from 500 private schools with the largest endowments.

The Chronicle of Higher Education released that data Sunday using federal tax information from 2011, the most recent available.

Robert J. Zimmer’s base pay was $918,000, but his total compensation was $3.4 million.

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About 40 percent of his total earnings stem from deferred compensation – a retention tool commonly used to keep college presidents on the job longer.

Presidents at 42 private colleges scaled the $1 million annual mark in total pay and benefits in 2011. That’s a slight bump from the year before. The median compensation was $410,523.

A high salary can be a sign of prestige, but it also opens presidents to criticism.

The Obama administration and consumers are pressuring schools to rein in tuition costs, increase graduation rates and strengthen the value of a diploma.

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