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 your trip IF you participate in the fundraising efforts. These payments will be directed to the Volunteer Center Gift Account and count as “tax-deductible contributions” for individuals and companies sponsoring the AB trip fundraiser.

Trip coordinators will give you some ideas, but feel free to get creative and do some research (staying within the confines of University rules and guidelines on fundraising). Trip coordinators will help guide participants, but it is the participants’ responsibility to create and promote fundraisers together. 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. Grants are awarded to a few applicants per trip on the basis of the quality of their application(s), demonstrated financial need, skills, commitment to service, and grant availability. The application for service grants for international trips is the most competitive. There are limited funds available so apply as soon as possible! Grants are normally awarded starting in November.  The application closes in January or until funds run out. Submitting an application does not guarantee that you will receive a grant.

  • The Global Advocate Grant may cover $250-1,500 of your international trip expenses.
  • The National Impact Grant may cover $150-$750 of your domestic trip expenses.

Who is Eligible to Apply
– Need-Based applicants are prioritized and must demonstrate that they currently receive Work Study, the Federal Pell Grant, and/or the SEOG Grant,
– Media projects are for applicants with a talent for videography/photography/specialized skills regardless of financial status,
– If you do not qualify for either grant, you can request to be considered and explain your situation or exceptional circumstances. We will review your applications depending on the availability of funding.
Also note:
The applicant must demonstrate a commitment to community service. i.e. involvement with nonprofits or on-campus events/organizations,
The applicant must be enrolled in an undergraduate bachelor’s or graduate master’s program at USC part-time or full-time
The applicant must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above.

Guidelines
1. Students must first apply and be accepted to an AWB or ASB trip then complete a Service Grant application. If you have not been accepted for a trip your application will be discarded. You may request the link to the Grant application by contacting judithsa@usc.edu via email after submitting your application.

2. Grant recipients must complete a special Leadership Project for their Alternative Break (i.e creating lesson plans, a video, running a donation drive, etc). Projects vary by trip. Students that do not complete their grant’s Leadership Project on time will lose a portion or all of their grant and pay their balance before going on the trip.
You may be asked to talk about or present a portion of your leadership project at the Volunteer Center Service Recognition Banquet hosted in April.

3. 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.

4. If you secure 50% or more funding for your trip from another USC source (Norman Topping, private scholarships, your department, alumni scholarship) you cannot receive funding from this service grant as well. This policy is to ensure that as many students as possible have access to funding/grants/scholarships for their trips. Norman Topping Scholars please get in touch with the NTSAF coordinator for exceptional funding application deadlines, and try to apply as soon as possible.

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

Support from Student Government

The expansion of the Service Grant Program this academic year is made possible through funding for the Volunteer Center from Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate 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 at our main email asb@usc.edu or to the email of the trip you plan on applying to.