CHARLESTON - The sixth-annual When I Grow Up contest, sponsored by the West Virginia State Treasurer's Office and SMART529, will allow elementary pupils, with the help of a parent or guardian to submit an essay of 100 words or less on what they want to be when they grow up and why.
Fifteen children will receive up to $5,000 in scholarships.
Entries will be judged on originality, creativity and the importance of post-secondary education.
"These days, education beyond high school is an essential part of ensuring a child's success," said Treasurer John Perdue. "So many of the good jobs require some form of post-secondary education."
Three age group winners - kindergarten and first grade, second and third grades and fourth and fifth grades - will be judged in each of the five regions, making for a total of 15 state-level winners.
The 15 winners will be awarded a $500 college savings account and will be notified in the spring about a news conference to announce the grand prize winner, who will win a $5,000 SMART529 scholarship.
Each regional winner's school will receive a $500 cash award.
For the third year, the teacher essay contest is open.
Kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers can write a short essay about using SMART529 lesson plans to inspire pupils to pursue higher education. The prize is $2,500.
Entry forms for both the student and teacher's contests are available at www.SMART529.com. In addition, forms will be available at elementary schools throughout the state within the next two weeks.
The deadline for entry form and essay submissions is Feb. 22.
Last year's contest garnered 3,250 student entries, the largest number of entries in the history of the contest. The 2012 top winner, receiving a $5,000 SMART529 College Savings Plan, was Ahmed Amir, a second-grade student from Maxwell Hills Elementary School in Raleigh County.
"We are thrilled to partner with Treasurer Perdue once again in promoting college savings in West Virginia," said Hartford Life Vice-President Jeff Coghan. "Nothing opens the doors of opportunity like an education."
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.