CHARLESTON, W.Va. – State Treasurer Riley Moore announced he is extending by one month the deadline for the popular SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The extension comes after several missed instructional days due to both the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and weather-related school cancellations. The new deadline for entries is Friday, March 26.
“This has been a challenging school year for students, parents and educators,” Moore said. “I think it’s important everyone has a chance to participate in this worthwhile contest and win money for higher education. A deadline extension gives students a new opportunity to make this a priority and submit their essays.”
New this year, students and teachers have the option to submit their essays electronically through the SMART529 website. They may also fill out the paper applications and mail-in entries as they have done in the past.
“Students and teachers around the state are spending much of their instructional time online this year, so they are used to submitting their work electronically,” Moore said. “We wanted to make sure they have the option to submit their ‘When I Grow Up’ essays online as well.”
Elementary schools around West Virginia were sent applications for the contest in early January. Entries will be judged among five regions in three grade-level groups (K-1, 2-3, 4-5). A total of 15 regional winners will be selected to receive $500 invested in a SMART529 account.
Out of the regional winners, one grand prize winner will be randomly selected to receive a total of $5,000 in SMART529 scholarship money. Each winner’s school receives a $500 cash award.
Schools have the option to submit essays as a classroom project, or parents may help their children with the essays and submit them individually.
Teachers who use the contest as a classroom activity can enter the teacher portion of the contest, which will result in one teacher winning a $2,500 cash prize.
Information on the essay contest may be found at www.SMART529.com.
This is the 14th year for the “When I Grow Up” essay contest. Regional winners will be announced in the fall and celebrated with an awards luncheon in Charleston.
SMART529, a program of the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office, is West Virginia’s 529 tax-advantaged savings plan. It’s designed to encourage families to save for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition, fees, room and board, equipment, and supplies. SMART529 savings may be used at colleges, universities, and trade schools around the nation. *It may also be used for K-12 tuition (up to $10,000 per student per year). For more information on West Virginia’s SMART529 plans, visit www.SMART529.com