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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 American 2024 are now closed. To be alerted when applications open for 2025, sign up for our Programs and Events emails.

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

Please note the following dates:

  • Application Close Date: March 1, 2024
  • Awardee Notification Date: March 30, 2024
  • Required Document Deadline: April 22, 2024
  • Virtual Program Period: March 15, 2024 – June 10, 2025
  • Travel Period: June 10, 2024 – August 30, 2025
  • Pre-Travel Fund/Dorm Requests Open Date: June 10, 2024
  • Pre-Travel Fund/Dorm Request Close Date: August 1, 2025
  • Post-Travel Fund Request Close Date: August 30, 2025

In 2024, HI USA will award

  • 30 General Awards to applicants selected from across the United States, 
  • 1 Peggy Stevens Girl Scout Award to a current or former member of the Girl Scouts from anywhere in the United States 

All applicants to the Explore America Scholarship 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 

For the Peggy Stevens Girl Scout Scholarship applicants must meet the following additional qualifications: 

  • be a current or former Girl Scout; you’ll need to provide your troop number and years served 

The following groups are not eligible for this award: 

  • Volunteers and relatives of HI USA employees and its licensed facilities  
  • Former Explore the World Awardees 
  • Former Explore America Awardees
  • HI USA Staff (may apply internally)

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 all program requirements.  

Awardees are expected to submit required documents by the Required Document Deadline to indicate acceptance of the award. 

Awardees must also attend at least 2 virtual workshops during the Virtual Program Period prior to requesting pre-travel funds.   

Awardees may request funding and accommodation at the start of the Travel Period, provided all pre-travel tasks are completed. 

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

  • One (1) payment of $1200 before your trip  
  • One (1) payment of $300 after your trip

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. Travel cannot begin until after the start of the Travel Period.  You must complete all travel before the end of the Travel Period or forfeit the award and return all disbursed funds.

Recipients may stay 4-7 free nights at a participating HI USA hostel of their choice:

The destination hostel location must be at least 250 miles from your location, or over state lines. 

*indicates a seasonal hostel. These hostels are only open during the summer season. 

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 destination selected 


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