A study that found hundreds of colleges were difficult for low-income families to afford misclassified 111 schools, the foundation that produced the study disclosed yesterday.

Eighty-two of the mislabeled schools should have been rated as more affordable by the Lumina Foundation for Education, while 29 were actually less affordable, the foundation said.

“The report”s overall conclusions are the same,” said Sara Murray-Plumer, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis-based private foundation, which released the study Jan. 7. “We certainly regret the errors and sincerely apologize for these mistakes.”

Lumina was correcting the report on its Web site, notifying affected schools and sending a corrected list to anyone who received the original report in book form, Murray-Plumer said.

The foundation blamed the mistakes on clerical error. All told, nearly 3,000 two- and four-year schools were rated in some 11,000 categories, Murray-Plumer said.

The study used 1998 federal statistics on income, enrollment and financial aid, among other factors. It looked at four income groups: low- and median-income students still dependent on parents” income, and independent students ages 25-34 with low or median incomes.

Higher-education groups attacked the study when it was released, calling its methods and assumptions flawed. They said that with 15 million people in American colleges, reality contradicts the survey”s conclusion that many colleges are unaffordable.

Terry Hartle, vice president of the American Council on Education, said Wednesday that the foundation deserved credit for admitting its mistakes but added that he still disagreed with the report”s conclusions.

The errors came to light when the Southwest Daily Times of Liberal, Kan., asked Lumina for the figures it used to rate a local community college as out of reach for students ages 18-23 from low-income and median-income families, Murray-Plumer said.

Lumina researchers rechecked their results and discovered the college should have been listed as affordable. They then reviewed results for all of the schools and discovered similar errors.

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