The pay for college presidents ranks nowhere near what CEOs of large companies take home, but the number of them who have broken the $1 million barrier when it comes to total compensation increased in 2011, according to a study by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Overall, the Chronicle calculated that the median pay in 2011 for the 550 chief executives of private nonprofit colleges included in its analysis was $410,523, an increase of 3% over the previous year.

At the top of that list were 42 presidents earning more than $1 million compared with 36 in 2010, although the Chronicle notes that some of those compensation totals were inflated by deferred compensation payouts, which are often used for retention.

The publication also calculated the percentage of the colleges’ total expenses going to the top-paid presidents, which showed that it wasn’t necessarily the most elite schools that provided the top compensation for their chief executives. For example, Harvard University’s Drew Gilpin Faust is one of the least compensated university presidents relative to the school’s budget. She earned $230 for every $1 million in expenditures in 2011. That compares with Esther L. Barazzone, president of Chatham University in Pittsburgh, who earned $37,545 for every $1 million in expenditures in 2011.

Bruce Drake  is a former senior editor at Pew Research Center.