Students in grades six to 12 can now enter either the Money Smart Kid or Money Smart Teen Essay Contest and compete for the chance to win up to $1,000 to help boost their college savings. The statewide essay contests are both sponsored by the Iowa Bankers Association in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Eligible junior high school students (in grades six to eight) can enter the Money Smart Kid Essay Contest by writing an essay of 500 words or fewer, addressing the following:

“Many families fall prey to predatory lending every year, which is a term used to describe a wide range of unfair financial practices that involve borrowing, lending and check cashing. Please explain the most common types of predatory lenders and share reasons why people might use them. Please explain the financial consequences or negative effects for people who use predatory lenders. Consider examples in your own community or neighborhood. Please also offer financial tips (one or two ways) a person could avoid taking out these types of loans.”

Eligible high school students (in grades nine to 12) can enter the Money Smart Teen Essay Contest by writing an essay of 650 words or fewer, addressing the following:

“If an investor gave you $25,000 to solve an economic issue in your community, what would you create to help solve the problem? This creation should improve the financial health and wellness of your community. Examples of possible solutions are a service, business, product or mobile app. Make sure to include specific issue areas that are relevant to your community such as violence prevention, obesity, food deserts or predatory lending. Also include supporting data points that demonstrate the need for this service and people affected by the problem.”

Essays are due by March 13, 2020, and interested students can download the Money Smart Kid application here and the Money Smart Teen application here. The students with the winning essays will be selected as Iowa’s Money Smart Kid and Money Smart Teen for 2020 and will receive $1,000 toward their savings funded by the Iowa Bankers Association. Additionally, in each category a runner-up will be awarded $500 and three semifinalists will receive $250 toward their college savings.

The Money Smart Kid and Money Smart Teen winners will be recognized during Money Smart Week, which will be April 4-11, 2020. Several communities across Iowa will host events as a part of the nationwide program. For more information about the Money Smart Kid and Money Smart Teen Essay Contests, visit the website or email

Thousands of organizations across the country participate in Money Smart Week. If your organization is interested in getting involved, visit

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