Press Releases

Entries must be postmarked by Friday, February 23, 2018 to qualify

West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue and representatives from SMART529 gathered at Rock Branch Elementary School in Nitro today to announce the 2018 SMART529 When I Grow Up student and teacher essay contest. The annual essay contest gives students around the state the chance to win up to $5,000 in higher education savings. Teachers have an opportunity to win a $2,500 cash prize.

“This contest helps highlight the importance of post-secondary education,” said Treasurer Perdue. “It has grown into a tradition for many families and, for me, it is an essential tool to help stress the importance of saving early for education beyond high school.”

Celebrating its eleventh year, the popular contest gives kindergarten through fifth grade students a share in nearly $20,000 in prizes annually.

Entries will be judged among five regions in three age groups (K-1, 2-3, 4-5), making for a total of 15 regional winners. The 15 winners will be awarded $500 invested into SMART529 college savings accounts. 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 will also receive a $500 cash award.

Teachers of grades K through fifth also have the opportunity to compete in the teacher portion of the essay contest. This year’s winning teacher will receive a $2,500 cash prize.

Lori Perry, a second grade teacher at Rock Branch, received a $2,500 cash award last year as the teacher winner of the contest.

Over the past 10 years, almost 30,000 entries have resulted in 140 student winners. That means more than $120,000 has been invested in SMART529 scholarships for students around the state and more than $90,000 in prize money has been awarded to teachers and schools.

The When I Grow Up essay contest allows students to submit, in 100 words or less, an essay that explains what they want to be when they grow up. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity and the importance of post-secondary education.

Entry forms for both students and teachers are available at In addition, entry forms will be available at elementary schools throughout the state. The deadline for entry form and essay submissions is Friday, February 23, 2018.

SMART529 is a qualified tuition program issued by the West Virginia Prepaid College Tuition and Savings Program Board of Trustees and administered by Hartford Life.

For more information on SMART529 or the When I Grow Up essay contest go to For media inquiries, please contact Gina Joynes at 304.341.0758 or George Manahan at 304.546.6174.

The Treasury does not collect state taxes. Visit the The West Virginia State Tax Department for assistance.

West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
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