Travel Awards and Conference Preparation
Would you like to travel to a conference to present your research, scholarship, or creative activity? The WSU Office of Undergraduate Research can provide qualified applicants with partial support, as well as guide you in finding additional support from other sources.
On This Page: Table of Contents
Why Should You Present Your Research at a Conference?
The opportunity to present your research or creative work to experts in your discipline is exciting. In fact, sharing or disseminating the new knowledge you’ve created in your field is essential to the research or creative process. Sharing your work creates the chance for you to network with professionals. It’s also a meaningful accomplishment to add to your resume or vita. However, traveling to a conference costs money. There are funding sources available to help cover your costs and the information on this page will help guide you through steps to find funding, and help prepare you for that professional presentation experience. Read more about disseminating your research on campus and beyond.
Which Conference and How Much?
Which conference should I go to? Talk to your mentor to determine the best venue and event for your interests and academic needs. With your mentor’s approval, submit your abstract to that conference as early as possible.
What kinds of costs are involved? Costs for traveling to present at a conference often include: poster printing, airfare (or mileage if you are traveling by car), lodging, ground transportation, registration, and food, for example. (See Planning a Budget, below.)
There are many deadlines to pay attention to. Examples of important deadlines include those for registration, abstract or artistic work submission, and travel grant applications from the conference organizer. Start the process early so all deadlines are met and you can get those early bird discounts and awards.
Travel Awards from Our Office
The Office of Undergraduate Research funds travel awards on a competitive basis to qualified students in all majors on the Pullman campus to partially cover the costs of presentation outside of WSU. Disbursement of travel awards from our office is contingent upon actually presenting at a conference. Travel awards range from $300-600 per student, and it is expected that the student’s mentor, department, or college will also commit support for the student’s travel. Applications are accepted year-round; but they must be received at least six (6) weeks before the start date of the conference where you will present. It is our expectation that your expenses will be 100% covered, but you will need to find multiple sources of money to cover all of your expenses. (See Planning a Budget, below.)
When Should I Apply for Travel Awards?
For Office of Undergraduate Research Awards
The earlier you apply, the better. We prefer to receive applications a minimum of six (6) weeks before your anticipated travel to the event.
For External Travel Awards
Many conferences and meetings have travel awards for students. Check your meetings website early in the process for deadlines and applications. It is expected that you will apply for a conference or meeting travel award when such an award is available.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ideas for Additional Funding
- Conference: Check the conference website to see if travel awards are offered to students and, if so, apply for one! You might also be able to volunteer to help at the meeting for a discount—be sure to ask. You can also trim costs if the conference offers a reduced registration fee for students as well as early-bird registration rates if you register before a certain date.
- Mentor: Ask your research mentor for support. They might have funds, and they can also help by requesting funds from the department chair or college dean, or organizations in their discipline.
- Your Department and College: Many department chairs and college deans have access to money donated to support students; this funding can likely be used for travel costs associated with presenting at a meeting.
- Honors College: If you are a student in the WSU Honors College, check with that office about possible financial travel support.
- PNW LSAMP/TMP/McNair/etc.: If you are eligible or affiliated with certain programs at WSU (such as the Pacific Northwest Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), the Team Mentoring Program (TMP), the McNair Scholars program, and others) ask the advisor about possible travel assistance.
- The Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR): A national and non-profit organization, CUR promotes undergraduate research for students in all majors; CUR awards are available to STEM and non-STEM students. Various disciplines within CUR provide travel awards to students, such as biology, psychology, and social sciences. Also, CUR’s Trimmer Travel Award is specifically designed to fund an Arts & Humanities student’s travel to the World Congress on Undergraduate Research. You can find and explore CUR application details by discipline using the search tool on the CUR website.
- Discipline-specific organizations: If you know the names of such organizations, check websites. Also, ask your mentor for ideas.
How to Apply
Applying for a travel award from the Office of Undergraduate Research
- Be an undergraduate on the Pullman campus: You must be currently registered as a WSU Pullman student pursuing an undergraduate degree.
- Stay enrolled: Travel to the professional conference must occur during the time you are enrolled. Travel during the summer is allowable as long as you are enrolled in the fall semester following that summer.
- Present at a conference: You must be presenting your research or creative work at the conference or meeting, not just attending it. However, we encourage you to apply for travel funding even before your work has been accepted for presentation so that you are able to start the application process early.
- Provide the required information: Review our online application ahead of time to learn more about the details you will need to apply, including your estimated travel budget, a list of additional funding sources, and details about the professional conference (title, dates, location, website URL, etc.). You must also provide us with updates after submitting your application as your work is accepted to the conference.
- Apply in a timely fashion: You must apply six weeks prior to the anticipated travel date.
- Your mentor, department, or college must have already committed some funds to support your presentation.
Planning a budget
An estimated budget is required as part of the application for Office of Undergraduate Research travel awards. Here’s some guidance on how to prepare one and use it to prepare for your conference travel.
- Follow our example: Use the example budget we provide below to prepare the estimated budget that is required in our award application.
- Use it while seeking additional funding: Keep your travel budget at hand while you look for additional funding sources, and compare amounts you raise to the total you anticipate that you will need.
- Keep in touch: Notify us at email@example.com with updates and details, such as when you secure additional funding or when anticipated costs change. Funding sources like us want to know how you are doing toward reaching your budget needs!
Example Conference Travel Budget
(Draft example budget for flying in/out of Spokane to Denver for a conference presentation.)
|Expense Description||Estimated Cost|
|Abstract submission (application) fee to the conference||$60|
|Conference registration fee*||$350|
|Mileage to and from airport at 53 cents per mile (driving myself): $0.53/mile@70 miles x 2)||$75|
|Uber from airport to hotel, and back (x2)||$38|
|Hotel expenses* (3 nights @$120/night)||$360|
|Food costs for two travel days (note that most conferences offer meals throughout each day attended as part of registration)||$120|
|Airfare (roundtrip, including any luggage charges)||$275|
*Be sure to check for any discounts, such as for early registration, volunteering at the event, etc.
Requirements for Award Recipients
My abstract was accepted! And I received a travel award from your office. What are your expectations of me?
Before the conference:
- Once you have been notified of acceptance to present at the conference, you must forward the official notification from the conference to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will not allocate or release funds to cover your expenses until our office receives such documentation.
- Be aware that you may need to cover travel costs up front with your own funds until you return to campus and turn them in for reimbursement. So, determine how you want to pay for expenses while traveling. For many meetings, WSU rules allow us to pay registration and air travel up front, but other expenses are covered by you and reimbursed after the meeting. Note: Many hotels place significant holds on payment accounts (especially debit cards), which can unexpectedly reduce the amount available from such an account (such holds can encumber available funds for a few weeks). Check with your mentor to determine what payment method will be right for you.
After the conference:
- After you have attended the conference, you will be required to type a personal thank-you letter to the person who (or organization that) funded your award. We will provide you with instructions for writing a strong, meaningful letter. It must be typed and hand-signed, among other requirements. You will submit this thank-you letter to the Office of Undergraduate Research; we will make sure the appropriate person receives it.
- In the spring following your conference, you will be expected to present your research at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA). We will check to be sure you have submitted your abstract by the SURCA abstract deadline.
- You will also be required to submit receipts and such for your conference-related expenses. Details about reimbursement procedures will be communicated to you.
Prepare for the Conference
- Work with your faculty mentor to prepare your presentation.
- Practice any presentation you expect to deliver.
- If you are presenting a poster, make sure to submit it for printing well in advance of your travel date and double check it days before you leave. This will leave you with adequate time to handle unforeseen problems.
- Look at the conference agenda and identify workshops or sessions that you plan to attend. Some conferences are very large and there are many concurrent sessions. Ask you mentor for suggestions of what to attend.
- Refresh your resume with all of your latest relevant information or accomplishments, and prepare a few copies to take with you.
- Make sure your class material will be covered while you are gone. If necessary, arrange to take exams at your conference or meeting.
- Start a draft thank-you letter to send to your supporters following the conference.
- Plan your travel wardrobe and pack a few days before you leave for the conference.
- Organize important documents and travel information; share your itinerary and contact information with your mentor as well as family and friends.
- Remember to take your poster, violin, artwork, or whatever you need to deliver your presentation!
- Throughout your trip, keep careful receipts as well as written records of your travel expenses.