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Colombia's Student Loan Program Opens Up Opportunities for Poor and Vulnerable Youth





The IBRD Flexible Loan was customized to make it easier for students from low-income families to repay the loans while minimizing repayment and currency risks for ICETEX:

  • A six year grace period (during which no principle repayment is required) gives students time to complete five years of education and one year to find a job before repaying the loan
  • A long final maturity (22 years) allows the students to spread the repayments over a long period of time
  • Conversion of loan currency to Colombian peso upon disbursement allows ICETEX to manage currency risk





IFL: Major Terms and Conditions

ICETEX case study

 Case study: Rio Grande do Sul (RGS)



  • Between 2008 and 2012, about 138,000 poor and vulnerable youth in Colombia received loans under a student loan program aimed at improving equitable access to higher education.
  • The number of indigenous and Afro-Colombian students accessing these loans increased from 2.7% in 2008 to 9.1% in 2012.
  • The loan program financed by the World Bank is helping to transform the lives of young people in Colombia.

Audrey takes a bus at 4:30 am from her neighborhood in the outskirts of Bogota to her nursing school. “The commute is worth it,” she says in this video. She is studying to be a nurse and she expects to reap the rewards of her hard work upon graduation.

Like Audrey, Lopino is determined to complete his engineering degree, so that he can one day support his family and repay all their debts.

Student loans from the Colombian Institute of Educational Credit and Technical Studies (ICETEX) have opened up opportunities for Audrey and Lopino. Between 2008 and 2012, about 166,000 new students received a low-interest loan called ACCES from ICETEX, aimed at the poorest and most vulnerable young people like Lopino or Audrey. No mean feat in a country where students who cannot pay for their education outright simply don’t go to university.

A more accessible education system for all

The purpose of these loans, financed by the World Bank, is not only to increase the number of Colombian students entering and completing higher education, but also to increase the number of young disadvantaged students among them.

This strategy has already borne fruit: the percentage of students earning twice the minimum wage rose from 45.6% in 2006 to 54.5% in late 2011. Over 80% of the nearly 166,000 students who have received the ACCES loan so far come from the poorest strata of Colombian society.

The ICETEX loan was financed by the World Bank and is a good example of how an astutely customized IBRD loan can meet the needs of the end-user and ensure an observable development impact.

“Colombia needed a customized loan that ICTEX could on-lend to low-income students to make it easy for them to access higher education,” says Gloria Grandolini, World Bank Colombia Country Director. “We were pleased to be able to meet the needs of an important client, and even more pleased to see the positive impact on the ground.”  


The World Bank in Colombia

In Colombia, the World Bank is using a combination of financial services, knowledge services, and convening power to provide tailored development solutions in areas such as educational opportunities for young people.