Hackcon is an in-person conference that takes place in Copake, New York and teaches organizers skills to build their communities and hackathons. With two full days of workshops, camp activities, and discussion sessions – there’s something at the conference for everyone.

Hackcon is the only Major League Hacking (MLH) event each year that requires you to pay money to attend and we recognize this may be hard for students on a tight budget. In this blog post, we will explore strategies for leveraging your school’s conference budget to attend Hackcon for free.

Understand Your School’s Conference Budget Policies

Most educational institutions allocate funds for faculty and students to attend conferences, workshops, and other educational events. To start your research, begin by familiarizing yourself with your school’s policies and guidelines regarding the use of conference budgets. 

Contact your department, academic advisor, or undergraduate advisor to gather information about the budget allocated for conferences and the process of accessing these funds. Ask them about funds for student development and travel grants. Your college’s website might also have information on travel grants. There’s unlikely to be anything for undergraduates, but you should check to make sure.

If you are part of an honor society, they often have discretionary funding available for their members. Similarly, offices promoting diversity on campus may also have funds set aside for students. If none of these options are available to you, contact the dean of your college. You might be able to access funds through the dean’s discretionary budget. 

Preparing Detailed Conference Proposal

Craft a well-structured proposal highlighting the benefits of attending Hackcon and how it aligns with your academic or professional goals. 

Below are the key points to cover in your proposal. 

  • Overview of Hackcon – Describe the purpose, agenda, and relevance of the event.
    • For example, here are some words you can use to state your case:  “Hackathons have become increasingly popular events for tech enthusiasts, students, and professionals to come together and collaborate on innovative projects. Hackcon is a conference for organizers to learn best practices while hosting a hackathon for their school.“
  • Learning Opportunities – Emphasize the workshops, keynote speeches, and panel discussions that will enhance your skills and knowledge.
  • Networking Prospects – Highlight the chance to connect with industry professionals and hackathon organizers from across the country.
  • Project Showcase – If possible, mention the opportunity to present your work or participate in competitions to gain recognition.
  • Budget Breakdown –  Provide a detailed breakdown of the estimated expenses, including ticket cost, travel, accommodation(if flying in a day early or leaving late- which should not be necessary), and meals(meals at Hackcon are covered but you might need food before you get there or on the way home). Ensure your total projected expenses does not exceed the funds available through your school’s conference budget. Keep in mind that speakers get free tickets to Hackcon, and only have to cover the cost of travel. 
  • Give examples of how this will benefit your school – Demonstrate how your participation will contribute to your academic growth and bring valuable insights back to your school’s community.

Delivering the Event Proposal

Schedule a meeting with your academic advisor, department head, or any other relevant authority responsible for approving conference budget requests. Present your proposal, highlighting the benefits and the value it brings to your education and professional development. Be prepared to answer questions and address any concerns they may have.

Alternative Funding Sources

In case your school’s conference budget falls short, try to explore additional funding opportunities like scholarships, grants, or sponsorships specifically tailored for students attending hackathons or technology-related events. Many organizations and tech companies offer financial support to motivated students who wish to participate in such conferences. 

Follow-Up and Gratitude

Once your proposal gets approved and you secure funding, express your gratitude to the decision-makers who supported your request. Keep them updated throughout the conference, and afterward, share your experiences, insights, and any achievements or recognitions you received during the event. This will help solidify the case for future funding requests.


Attending Hackcon can be an invaluable experience, offering you the opportunity to enhance your skills, expand your network, and gain exposure to others in the hackathon community. By leveraging your school’s conference budget and preparing a compelling proposal, you can secure the necessary funding to attend Hackcon for free. We hope to see you there!