Student Fellowship

Evaluating Higher Education Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in Bogotá

Project Area:

Fiscal and Financial Planning


Bogota, Colombia

Reporting to:

Undersecretary of Socioeconomic Planning

The Challenge

Access to higher education, particularly financing, poses significant challenges for low-income youth in Bogotá. 

In fact, many do not see higher education as an option. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic had a disproportionate economic impact on youth who already faced limited employment and education opportunities. These frustrations were reflected in the 2021 youth protests which, among other demands, called for improved educational opportunities for young people and greater social and economic inclusion. As part of the economic recovery solutions implemented to mitigate the pandemic’s economic and social effects, the mayor’s office launched two higher education Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs: ‘Reto a la U’ in 2020 and ‘Jóvenes a la U’ in 2021. Both programs are targeted towards low-income young people and aim to facilitate access to vocational and technical training qualifications or university degrees by providing cash for living expenses. Selected beneficiaries do not have to cover tuition as there is a public financial agreement with the higher education institutions to cover these costs. Reto a la U is an immersion to higher-education program which provides flexible educational opportunities aimed at encouraging continuity into higher education degrees. Jóvenes a la U’ supports beneficiaries in higher education programs to ensure fulfilment of the degree in which they are enrolled. Overall, the main goals of the CCTs are to provide financial aid and reduce dropout rates, which due to the pandemic, have been as high as 25%. City officials want to assess whether these programs are reaching the target population and estimate the probability of participants dropping out of the programs. 

The fellow working alongside Bogotá officials will help answer these key questions to help clarify potential areas of improvement and whether a redesign is needed: 

  • Are the target populations being reached effectively through the current targeting mechanisms? 
  • Can the targeting mechanisms be improved to minimize exclusion and inclusion errors? If so, how? 
  • In comparing beneficiaries of the higher education CCT program and non-beneficiaries enrolled in the same higher education institutions, what is the probability of a CCT program participant dropping out? 
  • Does the immersion-to-higher education increase the probability of accessing higher education programs?

What You’ll Do

The fellow will:

  • Develop an understanding of program goals, targeted population, and desired outcomes through engagement with key stakeholders such as the Secretary of Education, Observatory of Demographics, Agency for Higher Education, and higher education institutions.
  • Assemble data from across departments to conduct an evaluation of whether the program is reaching the intended beneficiaries. 
  • Estimate the probability of dropping out given these new supports. 
  • If needed, make recommendations for program improvements.
  • Draft a high-level impact evaluation plan 

Related deliverables to be defined in concert with the fellow would likely include the following: Summary of findings from targeting analysis and any recommendations for improvement; summary of key insights from stakeholder conversations; analysis of dropout rates; draft impact evaluation plan; final databases used and the quantitative analysis program files.

What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills and experience:

  • Data analysis 
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis
  • Financial modeling
  • Policy analysis 
  • Writing and editing 
  • Spanish fluency
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