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I am an undergraduate student doing independent research. My research work is selected for presentation at a very reputed conference in the US. I am from India. I cannot afford to attend the conference at all. How should I fund my trip? The travel grant for students available from the conference is very low. It can hardly buy me a one way ticket. What are my options?

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    Sorry, don't have an answer concerning travel grants. But if you can't make it to the conference at all, try to find a colleague to present the paper there. Then you will keep the paper at least. – silvado Apr 29 '13 at 18:42
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    When you say "independent research," do you mean that it is completely outside the scope of your classes? If you have an advisor, have you talked to him/her about trying to find some funding through your own university? – Chris Gregg Apr 30 '13 at 6:36
  • @ChrisGregg I mean I am doing mostly on my own with the help of another student. – Maxsteel Apr 30 '13 at 7:02
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    @Maxsteel I see -- I would not underestimate the ability for a university to find some money for an undergraduate who is publishing in well-respected conferences in the U.S. – Chris Gregg Apr 30 '13 at 8:16
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There are several strategies for this in addition to the usual ones outlined previously. I assume you are in CS/IS/IT from your profile. Your primary costs are conference registration fees, air fare and living expenses.

  1. If its a top conference, it will have student volunteer positions. For instance, this and this. This defrays cost of registration (free) and some of your living expenses (food and some cost of living). Apply for it immediately.

  2. You mention that you are getting some travel grant from the conference. Thats a good thing. Keep it for airfare.

  3. If its a ACM/IEEE conference, it will be sponsored by a SIG. SIGs have their own funding. For instance, see this and this. If you are an ACM/IEEE member then you can apply for these funds which are independent of conferences.

  4. Sometimes, in limited ways, industrial research labs and other government labs have funding. Search for and apply for these. For instance, see this , this and especially this.

I was once a poor student and had to make use of multiple sources of funding to go to conferences. You can also do it ! Basically, apply for everything that you find and see. Of course, the best way is to simply ask another co-author or someone actually visiting the conference to present the paper.

Another way is to just pay the registration fee (which is comparatively less). That way your paper is still indexed in the ACM DL or IEEE Xplore etc.

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    Doesn't IEEE have the policy of not publishing papers in the proceedings if they are not presented on the conference? – silvado Apr 30 '13 at 8:35
  • I have definitely published and have papers indexed in a quite reputed IEEE conference without attending it. I just paid the registration fees and confirmed that my paper would be indexed in Xplore. It was ! Of course, this is data from 2007 when I was a poor undergraduate. – Shion Apr 30 '13 at 13:36
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    I'd also like to point out that you can considerably defray living expenses by couchsurfing, YMCA dorms and airbnb in addition to crashing on some personal friend, acquaintance, relative's couch. I have done so on multiple occasions. I refuse to pay exorbitant amounts of money for living in the over priced conference hotels as they usually are. – Shion Apr 30 '13 at 16:12
  • Perhaps the ACM SIG or IEEE society in your subfield does not have a no-show policy, or does not enforce it; but some others do. Your last paragraph can potentially be very misleading. I suggest you edit it to clarify that this is something you can "get away with" in some conferences but not all. (I wouldn't want readers to waste money on registration, only to have their paper removed from the proceedings when they don't appear to present it.) – ff524 Oct 31 '16 at 6:47
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I've seen several solutions to problems like this.

  • Ask someone else to present it. Your supervisor, or another professor at your university may be able to travel. Alternatively, they may know someone else nearby who is attending the conference already. As a final alternative, they might know someone in the US who is planning to go. I have seen people add the presenter as an additional author on papers. Not sure about the ethics of this, but it could be used as an incentive.

  • Contact the conference organizers directly, and explain your situation. Their general travel grants budget may not be the only source of funding available. You might be able to get some funding in exchange for helping with the conference registration desk, for instance.

  • If your paper made it into a top tier conference in the US, it is likely it will be accepted at other top tier venues. Consider a journal publication (no travel required). I also see many top tier conferences in places like Beijing these days, so you might be able to find one closer to home.

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The only option I can see is:

  • start a PhD at a place that will have money
  • get them to pay for your trip.

There may not be enough time to carry out this plan. But having a paper accepted at a reputed conference certainly will contribute to you getting a PhD position at a good university.

This assumes that you want to do a PhD.

  • Getting phd requires a good publication and that requires travelling :) – Maxsteel Apr 30 '13 at 6:59

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