Financial Assistance to Attend the Conference


  • A potential conference attendee may request financial aid.  The amount of aid for which you would be eligible is calculated based on your ability to assume some costs balanced with the estimated costs that will be incurred.
  • Eligibility to seek financial aid is limited to those in certain "not-for-profit" categories.
  • At the Conference Committee's discretion, it may disqualify any request.
  • Awards will generally be made using a method that will optimize the most people to attend.  
  • Requests will be funded either fully or not at all, i.e. no partial awards.
  • Your application for financial aid is made on the same on-line form as conference registration.
  • Your registration / financial aid submission must be made by July 3, 2008, 5:00 PM.  NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Notification of aid awards / denial will be made on July 9, 2008 via email, giving awardees, adequate time, should they choose, to make registrations with the Ramada at the reduced conference rate.   That deadline is July 14, 2008.


The 2008 Conference has a modest pool of money (~$7,000) to provide assistance to those who would otherwise not be able attend the conference.  Our goal is to make the conference available to as many people as possible, especially to those who are members of watershed groups or other community groups... those of modest means who don't have other financial backing.

Because everyone has his or her own unique ability to pay for the costs of travel and registration, we leave it to the individual to determine the amount he or she can spend out-of-pocket to attend... the honor system.  In determining the amount of aid needed, we estimate the amount of reasonable costs involved then subtract the amount budgeted for costs.   At least theoretically, this determines the exact amount of aid necessary to allow a given person to attend.   With this in mind, if we are able to fund a particular request, it will be in full or not at all.  Theoretically, funding anything less would mean the person would have to spend more than budgeted, anything more would take away from our ability to fund additional requests.  We believe this is the most strategic way to offer aid.  However, for it truly to work effectively, it absolutely depends on the good will of those who apply to be very open about their abilities to provide their own resources in coming to the conference.  Because we have great faith in the good will of our target audience, we believe this is an approach that is viable for this particular conference for the strategic distribution of need-based aid.

Scoring the requests for aid

We are attempting to make the playing field for those who apply as level as we can.  However, because (a) our funding won't likely be sufficient to honor all requests, (b) that we have a goal to optimize attendance, and (c) funding constraints, we've devised a method to prioritize requests.  It is a weighting system that allows preference given to various categories leading to an overall score that determines the order in which awards are made.  The best score is awarded first, followed by the next best, and so on until we exhaust the our pool of funds.  Generally speaking, categories that will receive a better score are (a) invited speakers, (b) those attending the days where Abandoned Mine Reclamation is featured. (We must show preference to AMR attendees because this is the sector that provided funding aid.)  All other things being equal, lower aid amount requests will score better than higher aid requests.  Distance from State College will be handled to minimize the "distance penalty" to State College.

Provisional Application and How Awards Are Given

When you submit a registration that includes a request for financial aid, your registration to the conference is provisional, and will depend on the outcome of being award the requested amount or not.

If your application for aid is declined, we will automatically void your registration.  This is because we will not have been able to provide the additional funding you absolutely need to attend.  (That's why it's an all-or- nothing award... partial awards have the same implication.)

If your application for aid is successful, your registration is then accepted as normal.  You will receive an adjusted invoice that deducts the award from the conference fees.  If the award is for more than the conference fees, the balance will be provided as a reimbursement following the conference.  You must attend and provide requested documentation to receive the reimbursement.

Application Deadline

Your registration / financial aid submission must be made by July 3, 2008, 5:00 PM.  NO EXCEPTIONS.

Notification of Awards

We will notify all applicants of awards on July 9, 2008, a month before the conference so that they may adjust their plans accordingly including arranging for lodging.  Those who are selected to receive an award will be emailed an adjusted invoice for registration.  Those whose requests could not be honored will have their conference registrations voided and notified via email. 

Note that deadline to register at the Ramada at the conference rate of $75/room/night [$81.31 with tax] is July 14, 2008.  You are responsible to make your own arrangements for lodging.

Spirit of this approach

Our desire is to spend our limited aid money truly where it's needed so we can have as many folks possible attend.   Our experience with the volunteers of watershed groups and other community minded organizations is they are very giving of their time and resources in pursuit of achieving something for their communities.  We also know that many have limited resources and thus have limited capacity to attend functions such as this conference.  For those who might like to attend, most are willing to spend something, yet the actual amounts will be highly variable from one person to the next.  Variability also applies to the total expenses they might incur in attending.  We believe the vast majority of our audience will ask for only as much as they truly need... which is the key to making this method workable.


So let's say that Jessica figures that from her pocket she's able and willing to spend $200 (and not a single penny more) in attending the conference.  She's also figured out that she will have out-of-pocket travel expenses amounting to $250 and a conference registration expense of $100 for a total of $350.  She's only able to spend $200 of her own money, so the shortfall she has is ($350 - $200 =) $150.  The aid she should request is therefore $150 (and not a single penny less).  If Jessica is awarded the $150 in aid, and her estimates for travel expenses of $250 are correct, she will be able to attend the conference and will spend the full $200 she has allotted.

On-line Estimator

To help in figuring out how much aid you should request, we've made an interactive on-line estimator to help you out.  It's pretty straight-forward and, we hope, self explanatory.

You'll need to know the one-way distance from your starting point to the conference facility in State College, PA.  If you need to figure that out, just click on "To Here :" then enter your zip code in the "Start Address". 

What will be returned are the the directions to State College as well as the total mileage. Take note of the mileage figure, Click on the Browser's Back button, then Enter the mileage figure in the Estimator below.  

This is roughly what you will see if you apply for aid in the registration form.