FAQs and Requirements

Alternative Breaks are service-learning experiences designed to heighten participants’ awareness of critical social issues, enhance their individual growth, and prepare them for lifelong social action. Each student-initiated trip integrates service, reflection and education and focuses on topics as varied as poverty, indigenous rights, structural racism, human rights, animal advocacy, gender equality, environmentalism, and much more.

Applications are available online during the month of September for the following Winter and Spring Breaks. They can be found under the "How to Apply" link in the lefthand dropdown menu. Paper applications can also be provided upon request. 

Once an application is received, the Site Leaders of the trip(s) being applied for will reach out to schedule an interview time. Selection for each trip will be based on both the application and interview. Students may apply for more than one trip. 

Currently enrolled University of North Alabama students. This includes undergraduate and graduate students that are enrolled in full-time, part-time, and online classes. 
No. All Alternative Breaks trips are scheduled to depart and return so that students do not miss class or exams. It is the policy of the program that students may not miss class for an Alternative Breaks trip. 
Cost depends on the distance and length of time of the direct engagement component of the program. Weekend domestic trips may range from $50-$100 per person. Weeklong domestic trips may range from $300-$1,000 and international trips anywhere from $1,500-$3,000. Trip prices include group transportation (including airfare if necessary), food, lodging, travel insurance, and all activities. Not included are passport and immunization costs. 
All groups are encouraged to fundraise to offset the cost of the trips and are provided with tools and support to raise funds with little hassle.
Each program ranges between 10 - 12 participants. Every program is lead by 1 - 2 student Site Leaders and one staff or faculty partner that travels with the group. 

Because each trip only allows for a select number of participants, we have a social justice program called "UServe". This program, similar to Alternative Breaks, serves the local Shoals community and each month is focused on specific social topics. Education, training, service, and reflection are all built into the monthly initiatives and any student may sign up to participate. 

All students that are not selected for AB trips, are also encouraged to reapply the following year!

International students are very welcome to join on an Alternative Breaks trip! The Alternative Breaks Program staff are available to discuss individual concerns with any international student. 
Student leaders work with the Assistant Director for Community Service and Outreach to create a safe, educational, and service-oriented itinerary and curriculum for the direct engagement component of the program. All travel, domestic and international, comes with a level of risk that students should be aware of. Students should research their destination and take all safety precautions necessary.

Alternative Breaks trips require a commitment from October (prior to the trip) - until the direct engagement (when the trip takes place). Orientation activities take place once a month in the Fall semester prior to direct engagement and once a week in the 4 -5 weeks leading up to the trip. Meetings include education on the social justice issue, service-learning, and cross-cultural communication.

The direct engagement component of Alternative Breaks take place over Winter and Spring Breaks. 

UNA/AB Alumni are welcome to participate in our summer Alternative Breaks Alumni trip.

Alumni may also make a tax deductible donation to the program here. All donations will support program and trip costs to help alleviate the cost burden on student participants. 

The Alternative Breaks program makes every effort to ensure that students with disabilities can participate successfully in Alternative Breaks trips. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee that facilities or support services will be available at each location in the same range and quality as on the UNA campus. We encourage students with disabilities to meet with staff in the Disability Support Services Office to discuss accommodation needs.

Alternative Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience. We believe the use of alcohol takes away from our goal of being fully present and engaged in our program activities. Alcohol use may adversely affect group dynamics, participant safety, the local host community, the university, and the national alternative break student movement. 

As members of the alternative breaks organization, Break Away, we adhere to the specific quality components prescribed that build a strong and meaningful community engagement experience for our students and partners. Our policy of encouraging "Full Engagement" includes being Alcohol and Drug Free. Each leader and participant sign a contract agreeing to this component and pledges to abstain from alcohol and drugs for the duration of the Alternative Break program.