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What is an Experience Scholarship?

An Experience Scholarship does not eliminate the cost, but can significantly lower the cost of Membership, Swim Lessons, Youth Sports, Partial Day Preschool, Summer Camp and BASP (Before & After School Program). 

Each Experience Scholarship awarded is valid toward a 12-month membership which must be started by the expiration date provided at the time of approval. A new application with up-to-date information is required for our records to determine eligibility for each 12-month period.

Approved scholarships are the lowest possible rates within the program’s guidelines to ensure funds remain available year-round while continuing to provide all the benefits our members have come to value so much.  

If approved, all joining fees are waived.

Am I Eligible?

Experience Scholarships are funded generously by donors in our community, so every dollar donated is carefully considered to make certain that awards are granted responsibly, fairly, and based on needs to those who need it most.

Our mission is to provide Experience Scholarships for individuals and families who live below or up to 350% of poverty, based on the Federal Poverty Guidelines, to reduce regular rates. Eligibility is determined on a sliding-scale basis, based on address, total household size, and income. If supporting documentation is required, a request with specific guidelines for submissions to be accepted is emailed after the initial application is reviewed.

Please note for eligibility: 

  • Supporting documentation must be complete, verifiable, and account for each member in the household, whether or not they would be included in a Y membership or program.

  • Census data provided by HUD is used in determining eligibility in addition to publicly available information provided by a third party, subscription-based data service.

  • We require any prior unpaid balance on an existing account be paid in full before we can process an application. Please contact the previous membership location directly to resolve any balance before applying.

  • We cannot accept multiple applications or requests from the same household in the same 12-month period. To process all applications fairly and in a timely manner, any additional requests or applications from the same household cannot be reviewed within the same 12-month period. 

A few things to keep in mind when applying:

  • Allow 30 days for processing time. Although response and processing times may vary, we generally require 30 days from the date of submission to process an application. Our ability to do so within this timeframe is directly related to the number of requests we receive for status updates and all information provided in each application being complete and accurate for all household members, regardless of who will be using a Y membership
  • Carefully consider each application question. Membership type, category, home branch and awards are determined based on the information provided being accurate. Selections chosen in error or information that cannot be verified or is found to be inaccurate will result in a delay in approval or ineligibility.
  • Requests to extend or modify awards are prohibited. Each approval is based on up-to-date information for an annual membership and receives our fullest attention while being reviewed. A scholarship awarded must be redeemed by starting the membership within 30 days from the date of approval and is valid for one year from the date the membership started. To process all applications fairly and in a timely manner, we cannot accept multiple applications or requests from the same household within the same 12-month period.
  • Rate guarantee. If the membership is not started by the expiration date or is cancelled within the 12-month period, rates are subject to change, and approval to re-apply the previous scholarship is at the discretion of the YMCA of Greater Rochester.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Submitting your application: Once an application has been submitted, an automatic message appears confirming a successful submission and an email is sent to the email address provided in the application. If you don’t see a confirmation email in your main inbox immediately following your submission, be sure to check your spam folders.
  • Monitoring your email: You may be asked for more information and supporting documentation. Be sure to check the same email provided in your application often for status updates, additional information required, and if approved, Award Agreements with details regarding how to activate your new scholarship.
  • Submitting supporting documentation when requested: All household members must be included in the application and supporting documentation, even if they will not be included in the membership or program you are applying for. Any missing information for a member of the household will result in a denial or delay.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I applied and haven’t heard anything. What is the status of my application?

Please allow 30 days from the date of application for a determination. Our ability to process applications within this timeframe directly correlates with the number of requests we receive for status updates and/or all information, including supporting documentation, being completely accurate and verifiable according to the guidelines provided. 

For the most recent updates regarding your application, be sure to search your inbox and spam folders, using the same email address provided in your application, for the subject line “Experience Scholarship”. If you’ve submitted your required documentation according to the specific guidelines provided in the request, your application is in the queue to be processed. Thank you for your patience.


  • Duplicate applications - Applications are reviewed in the order they are received- your current place in the queue will be replaced using the most recent submission date
  • High volume of requests for status updates, through multiple channels 
  • Inconsistencies within information provided (e.g., application submitted under different name in household, maiden/hyphenated names, shortened/nicknames, multiple email addresses, etc)
  • Unclear or inconsistent information provided regarding household members or membership type requested
  • There is an outstanding balance on your account
  • You’ve previously been awarded an Experience Scholarship within the last 12 months and did not redeem the award within the redemption window
  • Total household income information provided being partial, inaccurate, or unverifiable
Why do I have to start my membership at a certain branch when I chose a Passport Membership?

Every member has a designated “home branch”. This simply tells us where you initially set up your membership, who handles your billing and payment plan, and generally where you’re likely to visit most. If you have a Passport Membership, you are free to use any of our locations after your membership is set up at your determined home branch.