I don't get paid much as a TA. I wanted to go to conferences but all of them operate on a reimbursement system. Between flights, shuttles, hotels, etc. it can be up to like $1000 not including food. They offer funding but with reimbursement. I don't have $1000 in my bank account to pay with in the first place. Most other TAs I know are in a similar position.
Why do programs use a reimbursement system? I went to one conference where they reimbursed the flight and paid for the hotel. That was a month ago and I think my reimbursement check is still a ways away. Why does it take so long? Why not just buy me a ticket? How am I supposed to go to conferences?