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Explore America Scholarship Program Overview

While many young Americans have travel aspirations, we know not everyone has the financial means to get out and start exploring. That's why we created the Explore America scholarship. Each year, we award Explore America recipients with a travel stipend, 4-7 free nights at a participating HI USA hostel of their choice, and pre-travel workshops to help them prepare for life-changing adventures.

Applications for Explore America 2023 are now closed.

Sign up for our “Programs and Events” emails to be notified when applications open for Explore America 2024.

Explore America awardees receive:

  • a $1500 travel stipend
  • 4-7 free overnights at select HI USA hostels across the country
  • free pre-travel workshops and planning assistance
  • a complimentary one-year HI USA membership


Program FAQs

Eligible applicants for general Explore America awards must:

  • be 18-30 years old
  • be United States citizens, residents, or green card holders, or qualify under DACA
  • be able to demonstrate financial need

In addition to 25 general awards, HI USA will award 10 Explore America scholarships to legal residents of New York City, and 1 Peggy Stevens Explore America Scholarship to a current or former Girl Scout.

To be eligible for an NYC scholarship, you must be a legal resident of the city of New York with valid government-issued ID.

To be eligible for the Peggy Stevens scholarship, you’ll need to provide your troop number and years served.

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 unless they

  • were unable to take their planned trip, and
  • officially cancelled the award, and 
  • reimbursed all disbursed funds to HI USA.

In 2023, HI USA will award

  • 25 scholarships to applicants selected from across the United States,
  • 10 scholarships to residents of New York City, and
  • 1 scholarship to a current or former member of the Girl Scouts from anywhere in the United States

As long as you are between the ages of 18 and 30 years when you submit your application, and meet all other requirements, you are eligible.

We are not able to consider anyone who is under the age of 18 years at the time they submit their application. Please consider applying next year instead!

Sign up for our Programs and Events mailing list to be notified when next year’s scholarship applications open.

For the purposes of this award, to show “demonstrated financial need” you must either:

If selected, awardees are expected to complete the program requirements. 

Recipients may receive funding beginning after May 16, 2023, provided all pre-travel tasks are completed. 

Please note, each award will be divided into two separate payments: 

  • One (1) payment of $1200 before your trip 

  • One (1) payment of $300 after your trip, upon completion of the program’s post-travel requirements

You must request your first payment at least 45 days prior to travel. 

Awardees are expected to complete pre-travel program requirements between March 28 and May 16.

Please note, this award qualifies as Taxable Income.

Scholarship funds are considered Taxable Income as they are not used for specific educational purposes as defined by the IRS.

Once awardees have completed all pre-travel tasks, they may request pre-travel funds. You may begin traveling as soon as May 31, 2023. You must complete travel before May 30, 2024 or forfeit the award and return all disbursed funds. 

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

  • Present a compelling case on why/how they are a novice traveler 
  • Demonstrate financial need 
  • Convey a genuine interest in exploring the culture of the city selected 


You can find additional information about this program on our Program Requirements page.