Parent Frequently Asked Questions
We know sending your child for a week can be scary — so we've put together some questions and answers we get from the parents of breakers.
What is Alternative Spartan Breaks (ASB)?
ASB is a program run by students, overseen by the Michigan State University's Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. We offer Spartans opportunities to go on week-long and weekend trips to different areas of the United States and around the world. On these trips, we send groups of 12 people to a specific community where they perform at least 30 hours of service focused on a specific social issue under the guidance of a service organization in the community, while learning as much as possible about the subject. Two site leaders, trained students, are on every trip, and are well versed in the policies and procedures set by ASB.
How does the ASB application process work?
Each ASB trip is focused on a specific social issue. Some of our trips focus on issues including the environment, hunger, homelessness, education, veteran care, etc. When applying, potential participants indicate issues they are passionate about, and the student executive board then places them on trips within their interests. After selection participants all meet with their site leaders on a regular basis to talk about fundraising, rules, issue education and bonding. Participants do not know the location of trips until after they have been accepted, to ensure students are on trips for the service and not the location. Students who express interest in international trips or trips that require flights are notified of the difference before committing to the trip.
When are ASB trips?
We send two rounds of week-long trips per year, and several weekend opportunities throughout the academic year. Week-long trips usually leave on Saturday or Sunday for their destination, and return the following Saturday or Sunday, depending on the length of their drives.
Is there an adult on the trip?
We believe everyone admitted to attend an ASB trip is a responsible, educated adult. Our site leaders are extensively trained for emergency situations and developments. However, most trips will have one participant called a University Partner. A University Partner is either a graduate student, staff member, or faculty member at Michigan State University. Though they go through emergency training as well, they act as a regular participant before, during, and after the trip, and are only there to support the site leaders.
How do you get to your location?
Most ASB locations are domestic and drivable. These trips receive two minivans rented by Michigan State University in which the site leaders and participants drive to their location and back. Each potential driver must pass a driving record check to drive the vans. ASB policy states that drivers must switch after three hours of driving, and students may not drive between the hours of 12 AM (midnight) and 5 AM. There are several domestic trips and three international trips that require flights. Participants on this trip are notified early that they will have to pay for their flights on top of the international trip payments.
How do you pay for ASB? What does it cover?
ASB is completely funded by the participant payments and fundraising done by individual trips. A domestic week-long ASB trip costs $400, which includes housing, food and transportation (excluding flights). International trips cost $500. ASB payments do not cover food during the travel to and from the location or any extra activities done during the trip. Any fundraising participants do for their trip may go toward meals-out, free day activities, or donations to their service sites. Payment plans are in place for participants starting with a small non-refundable deposit and followed by three larger payments across about three months. The last three payments are also non-refundable except for extreme circumstances, reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We are also now offering scholarships. Please see more details on our scholarships page.
Is the Drug and Alcohol Free Policy enforced? What if students are 21?
ASB is completely drug and alcohol free, and we take this policy very seriously. No matter the age of participants there is absolutely no drinking or usage of drugs on any of our trips. If this policy is broken participants are sent home at their own expense, and will not be granted participation in ASB again. If students are seen drinking underage, they will also we sent home at their own expense and will have to go through Michigan State University's legal action process.