Financial Assistance for Trips

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So you want to travel on an alternative service break but you’re not sure if you can afford the entire cost of your trip right now? The Volunteer Center wants the Alternative Breaks Program to be as accessible as possible to all USC students. We will be doing our best to try to lower the cost of AB trips whenever possible. However, before you accept a spot on an AB trip, make sure that you can afford to pay 100% of the advertised trip cost prior to the departure date. Speak with you Trip Leader or our staff if you have questions or concerns. We will update this post if other opportunities come up. Here are some options for financial assistance:

Payment Plans

We offer students payment plans so that the cost of your trip is paid off in approximately 1 ½ months (for AWB’s) to 2 ½ months (for ASB’s) after you accept. All students make an initial non-refundable deposit to reserve their spot. If you are struggling financially and might not be able to make a payment on time, please contact your trip coordinator immediately!

AWB’s applicants accept offers in October, trip payments are scheduled about every 2 weeks. Most trips must be paid off by early December.

ASB’s applicants accept offers in late October, trip payments are scheduled about every 2 weeks.  Most trips must be paid off by early February.

Personal “Go Fund Me” or “Sponsor-A-Breaker” Campaigns

You can ask individuals, friends, family members, and even companies to fund your trip; however, while we can give you samples or ideas you must be willing to do the work. These payments will go directly to you so they are not “tax-deductible contributions” for those companies/individuals sponsoring you.

Group Fundraisers

Participate in fundraisers with your fellow AB Breakers. You can raise money that will go towards bringing down the cost of the trip for all of the students that participate in the fundraising efforts. These payments will be directed to the Volunteer Center USC Gift Account and so they will be “tax deductible contributions” for those sponsoring your entire group’s AB trip.

Our staff will give you some ideas and places to start, but you and your group can be creative and do some research as well (staying within the confines of University rules and guidelines on fundraising). We’ve already had some entrepreneurial students offer really great suggestions that we are planning to try out! Visit an info session or talk to an AB Coordinator if you still have more questions about group fundraisers.

Service Grants

The Volunteer Center created an Alternative Break Service Grant Program to reduce the cost of our AWB and ASB service trips for under-served students. The Service Grants are awarded to only 2-3 applicants per trip on the basis of the quality of their application, their demonstrated financial need, and their commitment to service. The application for service grants for international trips is the most competitive. Submitting an application does not guarantee that you will receive a grant. There are limited funds available so apply as soon as possible! Grants are awarded between late November and January.  The application closes in February.

  • The Global Service Grant covers up to $500 of your international trip expenses.
  • The National Impact Service Grant covers $150-$250 of your domestic trip expenses.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:
– Student receives the Federal Pell and/or SEOG grant,
– Student has demonstrated a commitment to community service. i.e. involvement with nonprofits or on-campus events/organizations,
– Student is currently enrolled in an undergraduate bachelor’s or graduate master’s program at least part-time
– Student currently has a GPA of 2.5 or above.

Guidelines:
To apply, students must first apply to an AWB or ASB trip then complete a Service Grant application. You may request the link to the Grant application by contacting us via email after submitting your application. Grant recipients must show what they learned/experienced on their Alternative Break. You can tell us about your trip and the issues you explored (social, economic, racial etc), a significant/transformational experience on the trip, or the impact the experience has had on you. You will present a portion of your blog entry / video at the Volunteer Center Service Recognition Banquet hosted in April.

If you’re awarded a grant, you must complete ONE of the following:
– Create 1-5 blog entries about your Alternative Break. Blog entries must be at least 300 words in length and contain pictures. The number of blog entries depends on the amount granted.
– Create a Video or Visual Journal about your Alternative Break. Video must be 2 – 5 minutes in duration. Video length depends on the amount granted.
– Or, propose an alternative submission (must be approved).

Service Grants are not monetary awards, they are not paid out to the student. If you are awarded a Service Grant, the Volunteer Center will apply the amount of your grant to your balance upon completion of the requirements. Students must follow these guidelines and fully complete their Alternative Break program in order to receive their grant. Funds will be rescinded otherwise.If you secure 50% or more funding for your trip from another USC source (Norman Topping, GSG travel grant, your department, alumni scholarship) you cannot receive funding from this service grant as well. Norman Topping Scholars can apply for exceptional funding from the Norman Topping program! Get in touch with the NTSAF coordinator as soon as possible for information on application deadlines and the maximum amount you can apply for. This policy is to ensure that as many students as possible have access to funding/grants/scholarships for their trips.

Participants may request a link to the Service Grant application after they have applied to an alternative break trip by contacting their trip coordinator or asb@usc.edu. 

Support from Student Government

The Alternative Break trip coordinators apply for funding through Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate Student Government after the participants are chosen. This is notguaranteed source of funding, but we try our best to write great applications.  The trips that are able to obtain funding often lower the cost of trips between $100-$200 per student depending on the amount that is granted by Student Government.

Remember…

Some of these fundraising options may be very effective, some may not. We cannot guarantee that your trip cost will go down by a certain amount due to fundraising. However, many students receive some form of assistance to lower their cost just a little bit. We hope that this helps give you an idea of what options are available to you and you can make a wise decision. Remember to talk to your family. If you have further questions please contact us to our main email asb@usc.edu or to the email of the trip you plan on applying to.