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About US

Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri (ICUM) is a statewide association that proudly represents Missouri's nonprofit independent sector. Our member institutions represent a diverse array of four-year and two-year independent colleges and universities, educating an equally diverse group of students.

Missouri is fortunate to have a strong presence of nonprofit independent colleges and universities. ICUM institutions are highly regarded, leading in the national rankings of universities and colleges.

The leaders of our member institutions understand there is no better way to keep college costs down and debt levels low than graduating students on time. Forty-nine percent of non-profit independent sector students complete their bachelor’s degree in four years, compared to 32 percent of public students in Missouri. This is important because historically, the longer it takes to earn a degree, the less likely a student is to graduate.

ICUM institutions also serve a diverse population of students. Our sector awards 71 percent of all baccalaureate degrees granted to African Americans attending a Missouri college. Our sector provides the degrees to 55 percent of the female baccalaureate conferees. And, our sector provides academic opportunity to a diverse population for first-generation college student.

Independent colleges and universities are also key drivers of economic stability and development across Missouri. Our sector’s overall economic impact exceeds $13.6 billion annually. Collectively, our sector provides 32,675 direct jobs, and another 20,000 indirect jobs are attributed to our presence and activity.

ICUM speaks with one voice for our members, advocating for public policies that promote and protect nonprofit institutions and their students.

The primary function of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri (ICUM) is to represent its members before the Missouri General Assembly and its Executive branch of government as well as the Congress and the Federal Executive offices. 


In so doing, professional lobbying will represent the best interests of the member’s colleges and universities by fulfilling these functions:

  • Promoting and/or supporting legislation that defends or enhances the role of independent higher education.

  • Monitoring and rallying support against any proposed legislation, regulation, or rule which is detrimental to the role and causes of independent higher education.

  • Working with similar organizations as appropriate, to further independent higher education’s interests on national or regional issues.

  • Working with public higher education when projects or legislation give evidence of benefiting independent and public colleges and universities.


The mission of ICUM will be best fulfilled if all eligible institutions are members.  To that end, a professional lobbyist, guided by and responsible to the membership must provide such leadership and work within a guarded budget, so as to make member benefits obvious and membership fees reasonable.

Why Independent Higher Education?

Missouri Nonprofit Independent Colleges and Universities Care About Student Debt

Nonprofit private colleges aggressively work to help students limit borrowing.

Average Total Debt of Bachelor Degree Recipients,
Public and Private Colleges

4-Year Private
Average Annual Cost
Typical Total Debt
4-Year Public
Average Annual Cost
Typical Total Debt

Nonprofit private institutions encourage students to graduate in 4 years.

4 Year Graduation Rates

Private 49%

Public 32%

This matters because the longer it takes to earn a degree, the less likely the student is to graduate. Students who incur debt but don’t see the rewards associated with earning their degree typically have a harder time repaying their loans.

We support Missouri's workforce priorities

  • Our sector grants 52 percent of all baccalaureate and higher degrees

  •  Our sector awards 71 percent of all bachelor’s degrees that are granted to African Americans in Missouri

  • Our institutions are highly regarded - leading in the rankings of Money, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, etc.

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