I paid my Application Fee but I can't go to the Fair. Can I get my money back?
In almost all cases, no, but there is one exception given below.
The Application Fee for the California State Science Fair is a nonrefundable fee charged for the application, not for participation. (Otherwise it wouldn't be called the “Application Fee.” ☺) All students who have been selected by an affiliated fair to participate in CSSF and who submit an application to CSSF are expected to pay the Application Fee before being accepted, although in certain circumstances (*) students may be accepted as participants before the Fair receives the required Application Fee.
In general, the only reasons for which any Application Fee will be refunded are:
Even though in general these are the only reasons a payment of the Application Fee will be refunded, in an effort to encourage the maximum possible participation from throughout the State, CSSF recognizes one and only one exception to the rule of nonrefundability:
The reason for the Withdrawal Deadline is that up until then it is still possible to add new participants given only space for such students. When any accepted participant (or applicant who would be accepted) withdraws their application, this opens a space, with three days allotted to the process of contacting and accepting an alternative participant if he/she has already been rejected. On the other hand, after the Final Decision Date, all spaces are filled and production of the Fair has commenced (ranging from the assignment of project numbers and project display locations to the printing of the Program of Projects, certificates, and nametags) so that despite the withdrawal, no new space is created. In fact, the late withdrawal entails some additional work by the Fair to notify judges of the project's absence. Nevertheless, CSSF does request that students who know that they will not be able to participate inform us of this fact in advance of the Fair.
(*) Any student whose Application Fee Deadline is within a few days of the Final Decision Date will generally not be able to have his/her Application Fee received before the acceptance decision must be made. Nevertheless, the Application Fee must be paid before any student will be allowed to register at the Fair and set up their project display.