Explore America Program Details | HI USA Travel Scholarships

Explore America Travel Scholarship

Program Details


Eligibility Requirements:

To be considered for the Explore America Scholarship, candidates must:

  • Be 18 - 30 years of age
  • Be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident (possess a green card) or DACA recipient
  • Reside or attend school in one of the select metropolitan areas where HI USA is offering the Explore America Scholarship:
    • CA - San Francisco
    • DC - Washington
    • NY - New York City
    • MA - Boston
  • Demonstrate financial need by meeting at least one of the following criteria:
  • Have a strong desire and motivation to experience other people and cultures through hostelling
  • Plan to take a 4-10 day trip to select HI USA hostel(s) within the United States between February 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020
  • Employees and relatives of HI USA and its licensed facilities are ineligible to receive an Explore America Travel Scholarship.
  • Former recipients of HI USA's Explore the World and/or Explore America Scholarships are ineligible to receive an award.

Application Process:

  • Complete an Explore America Application for your location.
  • Provide 2 personal references (within application form)
  • Deadline: The deadline for submitting the Explore America Scholarship is November 11, 2018.
  • Please Note: Applicants may only submit one application per calendar year. Applicants who are not selected in previous years may reapply.

Local Communities Served:

Applicants must reside or attend school in one of the select metropolitan areas where HI USA is offering the Explore America Scholarship:

CA - San Francisco San Francisco County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Mateo County, Marin County
DC (DC/Maryland/Virginia) DC - District of Columbia
  MD - Montgomery County, Prince Georges County
  VA - Arlington County, City of Alexandria, City of Arlington, Fairfax County
NY - New York City Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens
MA - Boston Suffolk County, Essex County, Middlesex County, Norfolk County, Bristol County, Plymouth County, Worcester County

Program Requirements:

As a scholarship recipient, the candidate agrees to the following:

  • Travel to one of the following HI USA hostels (dorm-style) and stay for at least 4 consecutive nights, but no more than 10 consecutive nights
    (* indicates a hostel is not open year-round. Please check webpage for more details):
HI Los Angeles, Santa Monica HI Eastham*
HI Los Angeles, Fullerton HI Hyannis*
HI Los Angeles South Bay* HI Martha's Vineyard*
HI Monterey HI Nantucket*
HI Marin Headlands HI Truro*
HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse MARYLAND
HI Point Montara Lighthouse HI Baltimore
HI Point Reyes HI Harper's Ferry*
HI San Diego, Downtown HI Mississippi Headwaters*
HI San Diego, Point Loma NEW YORK
HI San Francisco, City Center HI New York
HI San Francisco, Downtown OREGON
HI San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf HI Portland, Hawthorne District
HI Washington DC HI Austin
HI New Orleans – Opening Fall 2018 WISCONSIN
HI Boston  
  • Complete travel between February 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020.
  • Use the online scholarship management application to submit required documentation and request funds.
  • By January 2, 2019, provide required documentation indicating official acceptance of the award. Documentation includes contract, release, W-9, ID, location verification, financial need verification, photo and bio. Fund requests are not permitted prior to this date.
  • At least 40 days prior to travel, contact your local HI USA Staff to reserve your bed. Complete a pre-travel survey and submit required documentation (room confirmation) with the pre-travel funds request for the the first installment of $350. Processing can take up to 21 days.
  • During travel, participate in an approved hostel activity and explore the local community surrounding the hostel. Post at least three photos and/or status updates to Instagram and/or Twitter using the hashtag #exploreamerica and tagging @HIUSA.
  • Within 30 days of return, complete a post-travel survey and submit a post travel funds request with required documentation (a report of your travels as per HI USA guidelines and three additional photos) for second $150 funds disbursement.
  • Failure to complete the Program Requirements by the specified deadlines can result in forfeiture of award.

Award Distribution:

  • Recipients will work with HI USA staff to book their 4-10 consecutive overnights at select HI USA hostels (subject to availability).
  • The total amount of the award is $500. The award is split into two installments. Please allow up to 21 days to process fund requests.
  • The first installment of $350 is awarded before travel upon completion of the pre-travel requirements.
  • The second installment of $150 is awarded after travel upon completion of post-travel requirements.
  • Under certain conditions, this scholarship may be taxable income. For further details, please review the IRS Taxable Scholarship qualifications here.
  • Scholarship funds are to be used solely for the travel opportunity as outlined in the scholarship contract.

Selection Process:

A scholarship committee of local residents will score and select awardees from completed, eligible applications based on the candidate’s ability to:

  • Demonstrate financial need and limited travel experience
  • Present a compelling case on benefits of the proposed travel experience
  • Convey a genuine interest in enhancing intercultural understanding through travel
  • Express a desire to motivate others to travel

Number of Scholarships:

  • Each location will award three scholarships for a total of 12 awards in 2018.

Awardees Announced:

  • All applicants will be informed of the local committee's decision by December 20, 2018.

Award Cancellations:

  • If travel is not completed by January 31, 2020, the scholarship is forfeited.
  • Recipients must officially cancel the scholarship using the cancellation form.
  • If a scholarship recipient cancels his/her award, any funds released must be returned to HI USA immediately. HI USA has the right to pursue funds not used for the intended purpose.
  • Prior applicants who were awarded a scholarship but were unable to use the scholarship are eligible to reapply for the Explore America Scholarship. Applications from prior awardees will only be considered if awardee officially canceled the award, has reimbursed any of the scholarship funds that were paid in anticipation of travel, and did not utilize any awarded overnights.

We reserve the right to modify this agreement and any policies of the HI USA Explore America Travel Scholarship. Modification is effective upon posting to our website or distribution via email or convention mail.