NITRO, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Students across West Virginia are getting a chance to get a head start on their college savings.
On Tuesday, West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue and representatives from SMART529 gathered at Rock Branch Elementary School to kick off the When I Grow Up student and teacher essay contest.
The annual contest awards $5,000 to the top student essay to be used for higher education savings.
"This contest helps highlight the importance of post-secondary education," Perdue said. "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."
This is the 11th year for the essay contest. Students from kindergarten to fifth grade can participate to win a share of nearly $20,000 in prizes.
Teachers can also participate for a chance at a $2,500 cash prize.
The essay must be 100 words or less and explain what the student wants to be when they grow up. Entries are judged on creativity and originality.
Entry forms can be found by clicking here.
Submissions are due by Friday, Feb. 23.
NITRO, W.Va. — West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue and representatives of the SMART529 college savings plan launched their annual essay contest allowing elementary school students the opportunity to earn a financial prize for their college savings account.
Perdue kicked off the When I Grow Up student and teacher essay contest Tuesday at Rock Branch Elementary School in Nitro. It is the eleventh year of the contest.
Students between kindergarten and fifth grade are eligible for the competition, in which they explain in 100 words or less what job they would like to have as an adult. Fifteen regional winners will receive a $500 prize, and a grand prize winner will receive a total prize of $5,000.
Each winner’s school will also receive $500, and the winning teacher will be awarded a $2,500 prize.
Perdue said this provides the opportunity for parents, teachers and other adults to help students improve their writing skills as well as explore possible career options.
“I never dreamed somebody wanted to be a teddy bear maker,” he said, reflecting on one of the essays of a previous contest. “You never know what kids are looking at With technology and internet today, it can change their lives and what they dream of being. It’s unreal.”
Entry forms are available at www.SMART529.com, as well as elementary schools across the state. Any student interested in submitting an essay and form has to do so before Feb. 23.
MetroNews affiliate WMOV Radio in Ravenswood contributed to this report.