The average return for college endowments was 11.7 percent in fiscal 2013, study says

The average investment return for college and university endowments in fiscal 2013 was 11.7 percent, according to an annual study released this week.

Harvard University had posted an 11.3 percent return for the year, ended June 30, underperforming the average reported in the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments.

Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin said in a statement that Harvard’s “primary goal is to beat the benchmark policy portfolio, which is calibrated to meet the long-term needs of the University’s research and education mission.’’

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He said last year’s return beat the benchmark by 2.1 percentage points and added $600 million in value to the nation’s largest university endowment, with $32.7 billion of assets at the end of the fiscal year.

Yale University had reported a 12.5 percent gain for the year.

The Massachusetts pension fund for state workers, which is not an endowment but invests its money in a similar fashion, gained 12.7 percent in the 12 months ended June 30.