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Undergraduate Student Life

Alternative Break Program Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is eligible to go on an Alternative Break trip?
    Currently enrolled students from all four undergraduate colleges (CC, CE, BC, GS) can participate fully in the ABP.
  2. How much does it cost?
    That is entirely up to the trip you design as a project leader, or the existing team you choose to join. The ABP is set up so that students create their own civic engagement project -- including what kind of work they will do, whom they work with, where they work, how they travel and where they stay, and how long they serve. All of these factors will determine the costs for each team member. The ABP may provide travel grants for up to six project participants. 
  3. How can I be a project leader?
    There are several steps to take in order to be a Project Leader. To begin with, you need to take responsibility for the various aspects of putting a team together. The ABP has set up a system to keep you on track. First, you submit a Preliminary Proposal. If accepted, you'll be invited to submit a Final Proposal. From there you may define your specific role with the help of your team, but ultimately you will be responsible for setting the team goals and working to achieve those goals. For more information, please check out the project leader expecations outlined in the application. In addition, you can make an appointment with Student Engagement or ABP student committee to ask questions or speak about your ideas. 
  4. Is there ABP financial aid or scholarships available?
    The ABP may provide travel grants for up to six project participants. 
  5. What immunizations do I need?
    You are responsible for talking with your physician and looking on the Center for Disease Control website to make informed choices of which immunizations you will need. Look on the travel health page and then search for your destination country.
  6. Are the trips safe?
    It is the responsibility of the team, working with the ABP and its sponsor organization, to design and carry out trips that are safe for everyone involved. Columbia has a general policy that it cannot support trips to countries that appear on the U.S. State Department's travel warning list. A proposal that includes travel to one of these countries will not be accepted. If a country appears on the list after a proposal has been accepted, and your trip will need to be altered in order to recieve ABP support. Individuals who choose to go to restricted countries will be traveling independently of Columbia University and will not have access to its resources. 
  7. When do the trips happen?
    Spring and summer breaks.
  8. What are the rules Project Leaders need to be aware of?
    All ABP-supported civic engagement projects are expected to follow all ABP policies, Columbia University policies and the laws of the locations to which the teams travel. In addition, the ABP recommends that teams create their own internal expectations of each team member. Teams can choose to use Break Away's 8 Quality Components as a guide. Lastly, the ABP recommends that teams study and follow all international trip recommendations of the U.S. State Department.
  9. Can I get my nonrefundable contribution back if I decide I don't want to go on my trip?
    No. In addition to funds that your team spends on you once you commit to the program, the ABP will be funding part of your trip and not someone else's. We make a commitment to you and in order for the program to work properly, it is necessary that you make a commitment in return. 

If you have other questions, feel free to email us!

Alternative Break Program


515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: 212-854-1371

Fax: 212-854-6972

9:00 a.m.–5:00p.m.