Note: If this is your first time applying for any of the GSG grant programs (Travel Grants, Childcare Subsidy, Emergency Fund), you will need to create an account on our online portal using your USC email.
1. Program Overview
The GSG Travel Grants Program provides partial reimbursement for expenses incurred by graduate students traveling to conferences that are related to the student’s major field of study. The goal of the program is to help graduate students disseminate knowledge generated at USC and to increase the presence of the USC brand in the academic conference world.
The program is intended to be a last-resort source of funding for students who have not been able to obtain travel funding from other sources (for example, their programs, advisors or the conference organizers) or who have obtained funding that did not cover their full travel expenses.
The Travel Grants Program is possible thanks to an agreement between the USC Graduate Student Government and USC Financial and Business Services (FBS), which is the office responsible for issuing reimbursements for the entire University. GSG funds the program entirely through the Graduate Student Programing Fee, reviews applications, and submits reimbursement requests to FBS on behalf of the applicants. FBS in turn issues the reimbursements through the proper University channels.
- The Applicant must be a registered graduate student of USC at the time of the conference.
- The Applicant must have paid the Student Programming Fee.
- The Applicant’s participation in the conference must fall under one of the following categories:
- Presenting original work in a conference related to their major field of study.
- Contributing in other significant ways, such as a speaker, panelist, organizer, workshop leader, etc., in a conference related to their major field of study.
Participation must be demonstrated through official documentation; details are provided throughout the application process.
3. Qualifying Expenses
Only the following conference-related expenses are reimbursable:
- Economy class airfare from a Los Angeles airport to the conference location, and return.
- Lodging during the official dates of the conferences, as well as the day before and the day after.
- Conference registration fees, including membership fees when bought as a discounted bundle.
All expenses must be properly documented through valid receipts and their corresponding bank or credit card statement in the Applicant’s name. Only expenses paid with debit or credit card are reimbursable.
Additional charges related to these expenses are not reimbursable. These include (but are not limited to): travel insurance, conference banquets, cancellation and rescheduling fees, seat assignment, upgrades, room charges, and parking.
Exceptions may be made for alternative air travel routing when the Applicant has substantive reasons to travel from or to an alternative location; prior approval must be obtained from the Director of Travel Grants.
For conferences taking place in the Greater Los Angeles Area, only conference registration fees are reimbursable.
Expenses paid with miles or points are not reimbursable.
4. Other Funding Sources
A GSG Travel Grant is secondary to any other funding sources that an applicant may obtain for the same conference. As such, the Applicant must demonstrate that any available sources of travel funding (e.g. their program or advisor) have been exhausted previously, or will be exhausted for the conference in question.
If no other sources of funding are available, the Applicant must provide a letter from their program indicating so.
Any funding sources (whether requested, approved or denied) must be accurately reported through official documentation, and updated if necessary after the conference.
Applicants who receive an offer for funding from both WiSE and the the GSG Travel Grants Program for the same conference must choose one award.
5. Program Limits
A GSG Travel Grant will reimburse the travel expenses not covered by the primary sources of funding, up to a maximum of 50% of the total qualifying expenses (airfare + lodging + conference registration).
An Applicant may receive up to a total of $1,000 from the GSG Travel Grants Program during a given Fiscal Year.
There is no limit to the number of applications that an applicant can submit during a given Fiscal Year. The University Fiscal Year runs from July 1 to June 30.
6. Allocation of Funds
Applications are approved and funds allocated to them in the order in which they are received (first-come-first-served). Applications that require amendments will be considered received only after all amendments have been made by the applicant.
The total budget of the GSG Travel Grants Program for a given Fiscal Year is approved by the GSG Senate and divided equally between two funding periods:
- The Fall Funding Period is reserved for conferences whose start date falls between July 1 and December 31
- The Spring Funding Period is reserved for conferences whose start date falls between January 1 and June 30
Funds from the Fall period may roll over to Spring if funds are not depleted after all Fall applications have been reviewed. Funds do not roll over to the next fiscal year.
Funding Period for conferences with start date between July 1 and December 31 is the Fall semester. Funding Period for conferences with start date between January 1 and June 30 is the Spring semester.
Applicants may start and submit applications as soon as the Funding Period corresponding to their conference is available in the application portal (approximately 60 calendar days before the beginning of the Funding Period in question.
Applications must be submitted at least 14 calendar days before the conference start date.
Requests by the reviewers to amend an application must be completed by the Applicant within the following 14 calendar days.
If a final lodging receipt was not be available at the time of submission, the Applicant must provide a final lodging receipt no later than 14 calendar days after the conference end date.
Applications that miss any of these deadlines will be automatically denied.
8. Application Procedures
At the time of submission, the Applicant must have:
- Paid the conference registration fee in full
- Paid the airfare to the conference in full (if air travel is required)
- Paid the lodging in full or booked the lodging (if lodging is required)
Applicants must submit their application (including all supporting documents) through the provided application portal. No documents are accepted in person or via email.
To submit an application, the following steps must be completed:
- Access the Application Portal and sign in or create a new account.
- Create a new application and enter all the required information and supporting documents.
- Add all eligible expenses and their corresponding proof of payment.
- Add all other sources of funding
- Submit the application for review
After the conference, Applicants must access the application again and upload the final lodging receipt, as well as update their funding sources if these have changed.
9. Review and Approval Procedures
Applications will be reviewed shortly after submission:
- Incomplete or incorrect applications will be returned to the Applicant with a request for amendment.
- Complete and valid applications will be marked as Pre-Approved.
Pre-Approved applications will be approved shortly after the conference, once the Applicant has submitted the final lodging receipt and updated their funding sources.
After approval, a reimbursement request is submitted to USC Financial and Business Services, which reviews all expenses and finally issues the reimbursement. FBS has final determination regarding the validity of any expense; therefore, GSG cannot guarantee that the expenses associated with an approved application will be accepted and reimbursed.
10. Program Conditions
- We reserve the right to deny or reduce any expenses that, at our sole discretion, we deem unreasonable.
- We reserve the right to ban an Applicant from the program if we suspect abuse.
- The Policies of this Program may change at any time, with or without warning.
- Applicants are solely responsible for the protection of their personal information; as such, they must black out any unnecessary sensitive information on their supporting documents (e.g. unrelated charges on a credit card statement) before submitting them.
- Every effort is made to ensure proper processing of applications; however, the limited funds, the complexities of the reimbursement process, and the multiple entities involved mean that GSG Travel Grants cannot be guaranteed under any circumstances. We strongly advise applicants to not base any travel or financial decisions solely on the potential outcome of their application.