Funding Your Summer Experience

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The Summer Experience Grant application period is currently closed.

While many internships are paid, others, such as government and political groups, media companies and nonprofits, are not. Often students identify volunteer opportunities around the world that require some money for travel and living expenses.

Tips and resources for identifying summer funding are outlined below. We encourage you to make an appointment with a career advisor to discuss your specific situation.

You might want to start with the Cornell Career Services Library searchable database, Link Library and the Opportunities Marketplace, which include information about grants, travel grants and fellowships. Also check out Cornell-affiliated programs and grants.

Summer Experience Grant

The Summer Experience Grant (SEG) aids students to complete summer unpaid or minimally paid career-related experiences. It helps students who would not be able to take on a summer career-related experience or would have a difficult time doing so. First-years, sophomores, and juniors in all 7 undergraduate colleges are eligible to apply. Each college’s career office will complete the grant review process for their own students. Administration of the grant is coordinated by A&S Career Development.


  • Student submits application, including a budget form with anticipated costs.
  • Applications are reviewed, and if approved the student will be asked to sign and return a grant contract.
  • Funding will be given in the form of a travel grant, meaning that the student is responsible for making and paying for their own travel arrangements, reservations, and other expenditures. The grant will help to offset some or all of the costs.
  • Once a signed contract is received, the request for funds will be submitted to Financial Aid (please allow at least 2 weeks for processing)
  • Once processed by Financial Aid, the student will receive a reimbursement check for the sum of the grant awarded. 
    • Students may set up direct deposit to have the funds dispersed directly into their account.

To allow for application and funding processing time, we recommend applying at least 3 weeks in advance of when you need to begin paying for your professional development opportunity. As a note: Financial Aid asks for at least 2 weeks for funding to process and be dispered to the student. Arrival of funds is contingent upon processing at Financial Aid. The A&S Career Development office has no ability to expedite funding. We appreciate your patience in the processing of your check.


Students must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a SEG:

  • Currently enrolled, matriculated undergraduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences; you must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at Cornell.
  • Returning to complete at least one full-time semester of coursework towards their bachelor’s degree at Cornell
  • Have secured an internship or other career-related experience that is at least 4 weeks in length (does not have to have accepted yet)
  • Have secured a career-related experience that is unpaid or minimally paid*

*Examples of a minimally paid experience include: a lunch allowance, small stipend, or an honorarium. Stipends and other forms of compensation should be included on the Budget Form and will be deducted from the requested amount and evaluated on a case by case basis. If you are awarded and find out later that you will receive compensation, the amount will be deducted from the original award.

Students are NOT eligible to apply for funding if:

  • They have an OCR violation.
  • They are on a leave of absence.

Eligible experiences include:

  • Any career-related experience – it does not have to be a formal internship.
  • Volunteering
  • Research where it is a new lab or experience, or the duties are substantially different and at a higher level than those of a previous similar experience. (Make this case in your application)

Non-eligible experiences include:

  • Fee based programs: any program that charges tuition or a fee. If you go through a company that finds you an internship for a fee, or you are doing an internship through a program that charges tuition, it is ineligible.
  • Cornell in Washington, Urban Summer, Public Health minor programs, or any other college-based program charging tuition/program fees (at Cornell or any other university)
  • Personal research projects
  • Personal entrepreneurial ventures
  • Taking classes, at Cornell or elsewhere

Eligible expenses covered by SEG include:

  • Travel to and from an experience location (bus, plane, or train ticket)
  • Daily transportation
  • Living expenses if you have to live away from home (including rent, food, etc.)

Expenses not covered by SEG include (but are not limited to):

  • Purchase of a vehicle
  • Clothing other than a required uniform or professional attire
  • Test prep courses (LSAT, GRE, etc)
  • Insurance
  • Personal travel
  • Entertainment
  • Summer Savings Expectation (The Berger Fund is the only exception).

Please note that students who have received a grant in the past are not eligible to receive the same grant again (ex. an Arts & Sciences student who has received the Government Internship Fund Grant in the past is not eligible to receive said grant again, but would be eligible for the International Summer Internship Support Grant).

Important Dates

**2019 Information will be posted shortly. The below information is from the 2018 application cycle.

The following timeline is to serve as a general guide for the selection process. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through April 18. A&S applicants are strongly encouraged to apply earlier rather than later. These dates are subject to change, as we are unsure how many applications we will receive. We request your patience throughout the process.

  • March 12 – Application opens 
  • April 18 – Application closes at 11:59 p.m.
  • ~ May 5 – Notifications sent to applicants. Applicants will receive a decision via email.
  • May 20 – Deadline for recipients to submit (via email or in person) contracts and official offer letters on letterhead
  • Mid-June – Funds disbursed

Any questions should be sent to You may also call 607-255-4166 or visit our office in 172 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Selection of Candidates

The Selection Committee will evaluate applications based on the following factors:

  • Financial need
  • Fit with career interests and goals
  • Benefit to student
  • Thoroughness of proposal
  • Effort in identifying and securing the experience

We encourage all students to apply, however students with high financial need will be given preference. If you have extenuating circumstances contributing to your need, make that case in your application. The Selection Committee, comprised of staff representatives from all seven colleges, also reserves the right to question the method(s) used to arrive at any figure provided in the Budget Proposal and to adjust the amount of funding awarded to applicants.

Once grants are awarded, all recipients will receive a contract and disclosure form which they must sign and return to Arts & Sciences Career Development by the date specified. This contract will provide information about the terms of the award, the student responsibilities, and employer responsibilities--both during and after the experience. Grants will be processed upon receipt of a signed contract and employer verification form.

Failure to comply with other terms as stated in the contract may result in the cancellation of the grant or in the recipient being billed by the University for any or all amounts already received.

Application & Instructions

You must complete the application questions and upload all four (4) supplemental documents via the application portal. Upload your documents well in advance of the deadline so that you can contact us during business hours for help if you have technical difficulties. Career Development is not responsible for technical difficulties if you wait until last minute to submit your materials. Please note that other grants associated with the Summer Experience Grant, such as the Berger fund, do require additional application materials.

The portal will close officially at 12:00 a.m. on April 19. We will not make exceptions for late submissions.

Application materials:

  2. Budget Form – The Budget Form (download by clicking here) consists of expenses incurred as a result of taking an unpaid/minimally paid experience. The Summer Experience Grant does NOT cover lost wages. Budgets which include wages will be rejected. Arts & Sciences Career Development reserves the right to request proof of payment for housing, transportation (to and from site and one daily commute record), and utilities. The maximum amount of funding awarded to any one person for all grants (except the A&S Summer Experience Grant and Berger Fund) is $3,000. The maximum funding a recipient can receive for the Berger Fund or A&S Summer Experience Grant is $5,000. Unless you are applying to the A&S Summer Experience Grant or Berger Fund, do not fill out your Budget Form and request a grant for more than $3,000. Do not budget for a program fee. We will not give grants to fee-based internship programs.
  3. Experience Confirmation – This document is a confirmation that you have been offered a career-related experience by the employer detailed in your application. This can be a scan of an official offer letter or a screenshot of an email. 
  4. Financial Aid Letter – Upload a PDF of your most recent financial aid letter (which you can download from the Student Center).  The selection committee members will confidentially review your Cornell academic and financial aid status and other materials submitted as part of your Summer Experience Grant application. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if my experience changes after being offered an SEG award?

  • A: Students who are offered an award based on an experience from the organization designated in their original application, but then accept an experience from a different employer not detailed in their proposal, must submit an updated application.Based on a review of the updated application which provides details of the new experience, the committee will either: 1) alter the award; 2) make a new award; or 3) withdraw the award.

Q: What if I have not secured a summer opportunity yet, but am in the process?

  • A: Students must be able to provide an employer confirmation at the time of application. Therefore, we will not review an application for a pending summer experience. Please wait to apply until you have secured a written offer or agreement with your summer opportunity employer. We will accept an official offer letter or screen shot of email confirmation.

Q: What if I cannot complete the entire duration of my proposed experience?

  • A: If the experience ends prematurely, funding will be pro-rated according to time worked. You may be responsible for return funds if they have already been dispersed. This decision will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Q: How long does it take for me to get the funds?

  • A: Once grants are awarded, students will be asked to submit paperwork to finalize the acceptance of their award. Once all paperwork is received, the request for funds will be submitted to Financial Aid. After the request is sent to Financial Aid, it can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks to receive funding in your account. Students are encouraged to set up direct deposit.

Q: Can A&S Career Development speed up the processing of my funding?

  • A: No. Once the request is made to Financial Aid, we have no ability to expedite funding. Any questions about the dispersal process should be directed to the Financial Aid Office or Bursar's Office.

Other Sources of Funding

Funding for A&S Students

For Arts & Sciences students, application to the Summer Experience Grant can also be an application to the following additional grants:

  • The Breitenbach Innovation Fund provides support to undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences pursuing unpaid or minimally paid summer internships in a start-up company or entrepreneurial venture.
  • The Journalism and Communications Internship Fund is for Arts & Sciences undergraduate students pursuing unpaid or minimally paid summer internships in the fields of journalism or communications. Students who are on the staff of the Cornell Daily Sun will receive special consideration.
  • The Government Internship Fund provides support to undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences pursuing unpaid or minimally paid summer internships in the field of government. Preference will be given to students at the federal government level and students not pursuing a major in government or history, though students pursuing internships in local or state government and with all majors will be considered.
  • International Summer Internship Support provides support to undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences pursuing unpaid or minimally paid summer internships, with a preference towards students pursuing entrepreneurial ventures (though any student pursuing an international internship will be considered).
  • The A&S Summer Experience Grant provides support to undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences pursuing unpaid or minimally paid summer internships, with a preference given towards students with financial need.
  • The Berger Summer Internship Fund provides support to undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences pursuing unpaid or minimally paid summer internships.  The fund is given by family and friends of Sandy Berger, a graduate of A&S who served as advisor to President Clinton. Preference will be given to students interning at think tanks or government related positions in Washington, DC. A short questionnaire completed by a faculty member is required; a link will be provided in the application form.

In addition to these grants, you can read through other funding opportunities for A&S students.

Work Study Eligible?

The Develop Your Own Internship Program provides a summer subsidy for students with work-study funding to develop their own paid internships with nonprofit organizations or small for-profit companies. If all aspects of the DYO Program are satisfied, Cornell will reimburse the employer for a portion of your wages: nonprofit employers receive up to 75 percent and for-profit employers 50 percent of your gross earnings. An information session is typically held in March and applications are due by mid-May.

Need Academic Credit?

Seeking credit or other internship support? If your employer requires credit or other documentation, set up an appointment with Diane Miller. Additionally, if you are considering unpaid, credit-bearing internships with for-profit organizations, you should consider the U.S. Department of Labor's criteria for these programs when evaluating opportunities.


Fellowships and scholarships offer funding for continued study in distinct fields of academic/career interest. Your advising dean and Beth Fiori, fellowships advisor, in 103 Barnes Hall, can provide guidance in pursuing options. Check out the Cornell Fellowships website and then call 607-255-6931 to schedule an appointment.