Writer's conferences and workshops may have fellowships, scholarships, or grants available, but they don't seem to advertise them widely. This makes sense, of course, because they would have people who might otherwise register choose to wait and see if they got some funds to pay their way.
I try to pay for conferences out of my writing income instead of household funds, but this year my account is pretty low. So I decided to look for other ways to attend writer's events, such as volunteering (like I did at our SCBWI Regional Conference recently), fellowships, and grants. I wanted to share some of the opportunities in my neck of the woods, to give some ideas of places to check in your area.
Our SCBWI regional chapter has a grant available for members to attend the Summer Conference in Los Angeles this August. They'll pay up to $1,000 dollars to cover your lodging, conference fees, and a paid critique (oddly, you must be logged in to the site to view the details and application instructions). Incidentally, SCBWI offers a number of other grants for members.
UC Davis, through their extension courses on creative writing and nonfiction writing, holds the Tomales Bay Workshops in October this year. You may apply for an Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation Fellowship, which will be awarded in each genre: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction/personal essay. Or just become the student editor-in-chief of the American River Review (the literary journal of American River College) and you can automatically get a fellowship.
That last suggestion may be a little more time intensive than you want (and may require you to relocate), but most of the other fellowships, grants, and scholarships require little more than your time and writing effort. There are usually no fees to apply, but you may have to submit an essay or CV along with your writing samples. It didn't take me very long to get my packets together to apply for each of these, and if I get the grant or fellowship it will be time well spent.
Also, I've posted about it before, but it's worth a reminder that Poets & Writers has a searchable database for grants and awards.
Does anyone else want to share any links, or creative low-cost ways to get access to conferences and workshops?