Abstract

Non-tuition costs—for uniforms, books and other supplies—are substantial in developing countries, often several times formal tuition. We evaluate a scholarship programme that alleviated non-tuition costs for girls in a subset of Gambian secondary schools. The programme is unique because it overlapped with a government policy that had already eliminated school fees for girls, allowing for a comparison between programme recipients and students who paid no tuition but were responsible for other expenses. We identify the effect of the programme by comparing outcomes for treated and untreated cohorts within programme schools. We find that non-tuition cost alleviation increased female enrolment by 13% and the share of enrolled students who took the ninth grade exit exam by 11 percentage points. These results highlight the importance of non-tuition costs in secondary school outcomes, even in settings where formal fees have been lifted.

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