Sep 25, 2019

Participate in NGPF's 2019 PAYBACK Challenge Essay Contest: More than $125,000 in Scholarships Available

We are excited to announce NGPF's 2019 PAYBACK Challenge Essay Contest with more than $125,000 in scholarships available. PAYBACK challenges students to get to and through college while balancing their happiness, connections and focus (oh, and their finances, too!). Designed by McKinney (a digital ad agency), PAYBACK has earned several Webby Awards and has engaged almost a million students since launch in September of 2017. Good luck to your students! 

Watch this short video for details about the PAYBACK Challenge:

Click here for the Payback Challenge Rules & Regulations 2019!

Here's the simple four step process to participate: 

STEP 1: Teachers Register Intent

  • Once you've filled out the Intent to Participate form, you will receive the Essay Template for your students as well as next steps.


STEP 2: Students Play PAYBACK


STEP 3: Students Write A Short Essay Addressing ONE of Two Prompts

1) Write a letter to your future self that you will open after your freshman year of college, reminding you of the key skills you will need to thrive during your college years.


2) How could you use the online game, PAYBACK, to have a conversation with your parent/guardian about paying for college?


STEP 4: Teacher Nominates and Submits ONE Student Essay

  • One Teacher = One essay submission. If you have more than one great essay, have a colleague submit it on your student's behalf. Feel free to share this opportunity with your other teacher friends, too!
  • You will receive an email with instructions on how and where to send in nominations AFTER you register (see STEP 1)


Deadline: 11:59PM PT November 13th, 2019



Over $125,000 in cash prizes available! Winners will be announced in December 2019. The following awards will be provided:

National Student Awards:

  • National Grand Prize Winners - 10 at $5,000 each
  • Honorable Mention Awards: 2 per state* at $500 each

*Note: A minimum of 20 essays per state (+ District of Columbia) must be submitted in order for students from that state to be eligible to win an award. 


Contest Rules & Regulations:

  1. Essays must be written by a student CURRENTLY attending high school or middle school (public, private, charter or alternative) in the United States or internationally.
  2. Entries will ONLY be accepted from educators. Each educator can ONLY nominate one student essay. If you have more than one great essay, have a colleague submit it on your student's behalf.
  3. Essays must be 250 words or less.
  4. Essays must be submitted online, using the Essay Template that was sent to you via email, by 11:59 PM on November 13, 2019.
  5. Essays must be original and unpublished. Plagiarized entries will be rejected.
  6. Essays must be written by one person. Co-authored essays are not accepted.
  7. Copyright of the essays entered will be assigned to the organizer

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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