Many conferences offer some form of financial assistance, covering travel, registration, accommodation, or combinations thereof.
My university will only pay for one conference travel expenses over the course of my PhD.
While I live in a first-world country, I am not financially well-off. I can't easily afford to fly to conferences in my own country, let alone some of the more exciting international conferences.
A lot of conferences I am really interested in are of side-note to my research -- things like SciPy. Or conferences from related fields.
Is it worth me applying for financial assistance in these cases? Or is financial assistance restricted to people from developing nations, or to people researching the primary area of the conference, or to people who are submitting papers to the conference?
Is the paperwork involved generally long and complex? it is not worth the time to spend a week filling out forms, for a 1% chance of getting to go the a conference -- I could be spending that time on actual research.
Are these awards highly competitive?