Sustainable Summer is committed to providing exciting educational opportunities to a diverse group of high school students interested in environmental sustainability. We have two types of financial assistance: 20% tuition assistance and scholarships (30 – 85% of tuition).
If you are interested in supporting any of Sustainable Summer’s scholarship programs, please click here for more information about how to make a tax-deductible donation.

Financial Assistance

Education is an investment in your child’s future and we want to help make our programs attainable for families from all corners of the economic spectrum. We offer several different types of financial aid.

Please read this information carefully. Due to the high volume of scholarship inquiries we receive, we typically do not reply to questions about the scholarship application process. Everything you need to know about applying for scholarship funding is right here!

Program Summary Type of Support Deadlines
Tuition Assistance Sustainable Summer operates on a tiered tuition model. Our tuition assistance level represents a 20% discount on the standard course fee. Please see the “More Info” section for details. 20% of tuition No Deadline More Info
Scholarships Sustainable Summer maintains an internal scholarship fund to provide financial assistance to students that would otherwise be unable to afford full tuition. Scholarship awards typically range from 30% to 85% of tuition, with the most common award amount being 50%. Please see the “More Info” section for details. Up to 85% of tuition See Deadlines & Dates Table Below More Info
Payment Plans We offer payment plans to eligible families, which is a convenient, interest free way to spread the cost of participation out across several monthly payments. No interest payments March 15th More Info
Fundraising Support Sustainable Summer makes it easy for you to fundraise the extra financial support you need to participate. Donations April 1st More Info

Scholarship Deadlines & Dates

Round Application Deadline1 Notification Date2 Enrollment Deadline3
Early Dec 23rd, 2018 Jan 31st, 2019 Feb 17th, 2019
Priority Jan 27th, 2019 Feb 28th, 2019 March 10th, 2019
Regular Apr 1st, 2019 Apr 24th, 2019 Apr 30th, 2019

1 All application materials must be received by this date, inclusive of any supplemental application materials for your specific program of interest, all letters of rec, and a parent statement of financial circumstances
2 The date when families will be notified of our scholarship committee’s decision
3 If awarded a scholarship, the date by which a family must accept an award by enrolling in the program

Scholarship & Financial Aid FAQs


Sustainable Summer welcomes any student currently enrolled in the 9th, 10th or 11th grade in the United States to apply for financial assistance. Applicants must be US citizens and be between the ages of 15 and 18, inclusive. At minimum, successful applicants will have a desire to learn; demonstrated interest in the environment and sustainability; be in good academic standing (minimum GPA: 3.5); and have a clear financial need. In general, families making less than $65,000 per year (adjusted gross income) are eligible for financial assistance up to 85% of the program tuition. Families with adjusted gross incomes higher than $65,000 may be eligible for awards depending on their unique financial circumstances, but, in general, need-based eligibility will phase out around $100K AGI. We do consider cost of living and extenuating financial circumstances, such as multiple children in college or recent loss of employment, so families that have (or recently had) gross incomes greater than $100K are often still eligible for support.

First, read through this explanation of the entire application process carefully and discuss both your program of interest and the scholarship application process with a parent before applying.

Second, students should submit a “preliminary” application through our regular application process as the initial step in the scholarship application process. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Sustainable Summer, which we waive for students applying for scholarship funding. To apply for a scholarship, start a new application and select “scholarship” as your tuition tier on page 4 of the application. This will waive the $35 application fee for you, but it also means that you will enter a scholarship applicant “track,” which is more competitive than our regular admissions process. This choice cannot be reversed, so be sure you have discussed the program and scholarship application process with family before continuing forward.

A completed scholarship application includes

  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • supplemental essay and any program-specific supplemental application requirements
  • a household statement of financial status completed by a parent.
  • tax return from all persons that claim the scholarship applicant as a dependent



We do our best to provide funding to all deserving candidates. In general, motivated students that can clearly articulate a passion for environmentalism and the potential to become an environmental leader will receive a funding award. We want to see nuance and an understanding of important environmental concepts communicated in your application. Most of all, we want you to draw a clear line between the Sustainable Summer program and your goals. Be specific and be sure your references can back up your ambitions and potential. If your application is solid and your financial need isn’t “extreme,” it is likely that you will receive funding for a program. We aren’t always able to place students on their first choice program, but it is rare that a strong applicant is denied a scholarship outright. We do receive many more “qualified” applications for scholarships for our Environmental Leadership Academies than for our global learning programs. We receive lots of scholarship applications for our global learning programs, too, but many of them are not what we would consider very strong applications because the applicant too often is interested simply in traveling to another country and does not clearly articulate a genuine interest in sustainability. However, for our Environmental Leadership Academies, we typically have a much more competitive scholarship applicant pool and have to make harder choices about scholarship awards or ask students to consider one of our global learning programs instead.

Be sure to articulate clearly and concisely how Sustainable Summer will benefit you keeping in mind that competitive candidates for scholarships will possess all of the following:

  • A demonstrated personal commitment to and interest in achieving environmental sustainability
  • Outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement (or unique experience related to environmental sustainability)
  • An application that articulates how Sustainable Summer will benefit the participant and help him or her become a future sustainability leader
  • Letters of recommendation that underscore all of the above
  • Clear financial need

Preference for our financial assistance awards is given to students with outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement, and a demonstrated commitment to achieving environmental sustainability, who have a clear financial need that can be met by the limitations of our financial assistance program. Scholarships are not granted on merit alone; only those students who could not attend a program without financial assistance will be awarded scholarship funds. (NOTE: We cannot fund requests for 100% of tuition in aid and it is expected that all financial assistance applicants will make a family contribution of 15 – 50% of the tuition, fundraise their family’s tuition responsibility, or a combination thereof.)


If you apply to a program as a “regular” applicant and pay the $35 application fee, and then determine later in the admissions and enrollment process that you would like to apply for scholarship funding, that is permissible. However, in this scenario the student would be moved “fully” into the scholarship track. We will not continue to hold a place for the student on a program if s/he has been accepted while the student applies for scholarship funding. So, for example, if a student applies and is accepted into a program as a “non-scholarship” applicant and then decides to apply for a scholarship, that student must first “forfeit” his or her acceptance and re-apply as a scholarship applicant. So, please please please be sure you have discussed the financial considerations of participation BEFORE applying so that you can determine, as best as possible, whether to apply from the outset as a scholarship applicant (or not). In general, this is a pretty clear choice for most families.

For families that are considering applying for a scholarship “just to see what kind of award we get” we suggest the following: ask yourself what your total budget for summer/educational enrichment, not including travel costs. If you can afford to participate at the Tuition Assistance level for your program of interest, don’t apply for a scholarship. If you can’t afford to participate at the tuition assistance level, apply for a scholarship. If you don’t get a scholarship award from us or don’t get funding for your preferred program of interest, please don’t come back to us and say, for example, “You know, it turns out my child’s grandparents were able to kick in more than expected and we’d like to enroll at the ‘tuition assistance’ level.” We’re going to tell you that you should have figured that out before seeking funding from us. We can’t magically make another place on the program available and we will have already issued acceptance decisions based on the candidates in both our scholarship and regular applicant pools. Another way of putting this is that we operate from the perspective that families seeking financial assistance have a very finite budget and their ability to make a financial contribution towards the program costs is inelastic. If a family tells us in their scholarship application that they can only afford to contribute X amount of dollars towards a program, and we aren’t able to meet their remaining need through a scholarship, we are simply going to deny that student a scholarship and move on to another candidate. If that family than responds to the denial of a scholarship award and tell us that they actually can afford Y amount of dollars instead of X, we aren’t going to change our award decision even if we would have made an award had the family initially told us they could contribute Y towards the program. Consequently the parent completing the statement of financial circumstances as part of our scholarship application should be as precise as possible when considering what amount to specify as a family contribution based on your family budget. It is, of course, much more fiscally manageable for us as an organization to make a scholarship award of 40% than of 80%, so if you’re considering “low-balling” your family contribution “just to see” if you can get a more generous scholarship award from our committee, you should know that you are, in effect, decreasing your odds of receiving a scholarship award. This is particularly true if you are only interested in one specific Sustainable Summer program.



In general, our scholarship program is designed as a “hand up,” not a “hand out.” It is designed for “middle-income” families and is intended to bridge the gap between a family’s expected financial contribution and/or their own fundraising efforts, and that of the total cost of participation. The amount of expected family contribution is calculated using an independent metric based on each family’s unique financial circumstances. Award amounts will rarely exceed 50% of the total cost of tuition, even for families with the most significant need. Award amount do not include airfare or other travel costs associated with getting to or from the program. These costs can be significant. Please budget accordingly by researching airfare costs before applying for a scholarship.

A select handful of students every summer may receive up to 85% of their tuition in scholarship funding, typically one per program. These grants are extremely competitive and only awarded to students of exceptional caliber.

We simply do not have the internal financial resources to support the financial need of all applicants, and have instead established relations with a number of foundations that work with families requiring significant financial assistance beyond which our internal funding can support.

We know that every family’s situation is unique and we do not have a definitive threshold on family income for the purpose of determining scholarship eligibility, although families with an adjusted gross income of less than $65,000 will generally be considered eligible whereas families with adjusted gross incomes in excess of $100,000 will generally be considered ineligible. However, we consider cost of living in your area, your financial commitments, and a number of other factors in determining eligibility.

Sustainable Summer scholarships can be combined with outside grant support (from a foundation, school, etc) to reduce the total participation costs of the program. Sustainable Summer scholarship award decisions are applied after outside grants. Participants are expected to make a minimum financial contribution of at least 15% of tuition before Sustainable Summer funding will kick in.



Scholarship awards are applied to total program fees (including housing, activities, and meals). Related travel expenses (airfare, etc) are not included in the award. Spending money is not included in the award calculation and is the responsibility of your family. (Note: Some outside grants will cover travel expenses.) Fundraising and outside grants are both very viable means for funding participation costs beyond any Sustainable Summer scholarship support. We will apply outside funding sources to the total cost of participation first, before applying internal (ie; Sustainable Summer) scholarship funds towards a student account.


The student should apply online to Sustainable Summer using our preliminary application. There is no application fee. Applicants will be provided with access to our supplemental scholarship application materials immediately after submitting the regular application for admission. Parents should check their email for a link to the “parent” application for financial assistance, which we automatically send when a student completes our application for admission and indicates their intention to apply for a scholarship.



Maybe. It depends how late in the year it is, which program you’re interested in, and other factors. If your program of interest is not listed as full on our website, please go to our Get More Info page to inquire about scholarship opportunities.


No. Our Tuition Assistance plan is available to all families at any point during the year; no additional documentation or application is required. Students should apply to their program of choice. If accepted, a parent will indicate their desired tuition tier when enrolling the student in the program.

Our scholarship fund is almost entirely supported by individual, tax-deductible donations to Sustainable Summer. 100% of the individual, unrestricted contributions we receive as a non-profit go into our scholarship fund. However, the demand for financial assistance exceeds the supply of donations. We welcome contributions from individual or institutional donors to help expand our scholarship fund. Donate here or contact us at 646-504-5046 for additional information.



If you have read all of the information on this page and still have questions, please go to our Get More Info page and submit your question there. If you have questions about your eligibility to receive a scholarship, please describe relevant factors in your correspondence and we will offer advice on whether you could be eligible for an award and the most likely award amount as a percentage of program tuition. We obviously can’t confirm a scholarship award before receiving your application, but we can help determine if you would most likely meet our qualification criteria. Please be respectful of our time and be sure to have thoroughly reviewed the information about scholarships and financial aid as well as your program of interest before contacting us.