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A new survey shows that donations to Northwestern University rose 2.2 precent last year — a shade below the average for all schools surveyed.

The Council for Aid to Education estimates that U.S. universities received a combined $31 billion in donations last year, up 2.3 percent from the year before.

Northwestern raised $233.7 million in 2012 compared to $228.6 million in 2011. That was second in Illinois to the University of Chicago, which received $255.8 million last year, up 3.7 percent from 2011.

NU and U of C were the only large Chicago-area schools that saw an increase in donations last year.

Adjusted for inflation, CAE said, the nationwide level of giving in 2012 was virtually unchanged from the prior year. It is also below the all-time record level of $31.6 bilion reached in 2008.

The CAE data is based on school fiscal years, which typically end June 30. CAE attributed the relatively weak performance in 2012 to declines in stock prices during the period, which tend to reduce gifts for capital fund programs. Gifts had been up 8.2 percent in 2011.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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