COLFUTURO is a Colombian non-profit foundation that was established in 1991 with the support of the National Government and some of the most important companies of the private sector in the country at that time. Its main objective is to provide financial support and increase the possibilities of Colombian citizens to access high-quality postgraduate study programs abroad.
With a total population of 47 million inhabitants, only 4% of Colombia’s professionals have postgraduate degrees, of which only 2% have Master’s degrees and less than 1% have Doctorate-level degrees. Thanks to this initiative, students, after finishing their postgraduate studies, return to the country and encourage the promotion of constant social, economic and cultural transformation in Colombia.
The financial support model we use is a Scholarship-Loan. COLFUTURO offers each student up to US$25,000 per year for a maximum of two years. In total, the foundation offers loans of up to US$50,000. Students may be awarded scholarships for 50% of the loaned amount, provided they accomplish these three requirements: (1) be awarded their postgraduate degree, (2) return to Colombia, and (3) remain in the country for three to five years. Students may also obtain an additional 10% discount if, upon returning to the country, they engage in employment for one year in the public sector, or as teachers or researchers in public or private institutions. Those pursuing Masters’ degrees in management or MBA programs are awarded only 25% scholarship of the loaned amount.
Over US 228 million invested in postgraduate education
In the year 2000, COLFUTURO selected 96 beneficiaries. But, thanks to private sector donations and to the National Government, the number of beneficiaries supported has grown eleven times its size. In 2010, the foundation reached its goal and supported over one thousand beneficiaries. Throughout 20 years, COLFUTURO has financed postgraduate education programs for nearly 6,000 students in 28 countries.
This means that more than US $130 million have already been disbursed to support postgraduate studies of Colombian professionals in all areas of knowledge in the best universities around the world. More than US $40 million correspond to contributions made by the National Government since 2007.
In aiming to increase financial benefits for students, COLFUTURO has fulfilled over 50 agreements with several institutions that serve to award full or partial scholarships to students supported by the foundation. In exchange, COLFUTURO endorses the promotion of these institutions in Colombia through informative sessions, distribution of promotional materials and virtual communications in our website, as well as, through popular social networks.
To participate in COLFUTURO’s yearly application process, students shall follow the regular admission process to the program in the educational institution in the country of their choice. COLFUTURO does not get involved in the different universities’ or in their study programs’ application and selection processes. Additionally, applicants shall demonstrate advanced proficiency in a foreign language and hold an undergraduate degree, except for those students applying to double degree programs.
Selecting the Scholarship-Loan Beneficiaries
The selection process considers three main criteria: academic quality of students, the quality of the study program, and the comparison amongst all applicants, maintaining each student’s anonymity. The academic quality of students is assessed with three aspects: undergraduate GPA (Grade Point Average), ranking position within their graduating class and an essay.
The academic program’s quality is determined by a comparative analysis that has evolved and perfected itself for more than 20 years, a grade ranging from 1.0 to 5.0 (where 5.0 is the highest score) is given to the academic program that the student is interested in pursuing.
To accomplish such a task COLFUTURO bases its decision on assessing the study programs, not the educational institutions by themselves; it verifies international rankings based on fields of study and analyses aspects like teacher training, awards, program accreditation, years of experience of the school, admission requirements, admission rate, and the overall characteristics of the educational system.
Candidates are organized from the highest to the lowest pursuant based on the average of their grades and the scores obtained. Then, committees of experts in twelve different fields of study review the lists of applicants and draw the standard cutting line.
Since 1992, the selection process results are published at www.colfuturo.org where selected candidates are listed with their academic information.
On a yearly basis, COLFUTURO goes through this process following total transparency standards; all candidates participate in the selection process under an equal opportunity basis. Thanks to over 20 years of experience, we are certain that we have selected the most talented Colombians for the world and the best of the world for Colombians.