We the Students Scholarship Contest

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to participate?
Students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Armed Forces schools abroad, and students in United States territories are eligible to participate in the contest.

In addition to going to school in a contest state, you must be in grades 9-12 and between the ages of 14-19.  You must also meet our eligibility requirements.  If you meet these criteria, you can submit your entry!  (Home school students too!)

How many times can I enter?
An individual may only submit one entry to each contest (one essay & one video).

Do I have to answer all questions?
Yes.  To be eligible to win you must fully answer all questions, including any sub-parts.

Is there a limit to how many people I can recommend the contest to?
No!  We encourage you to recommend the contest to anyone you think would be eligible and interested.

Are there examples of past winning essays that I can look at?
No. We generally do not make past winning essays public. You are encouraged to submit work that reflects your own style of writing.

Am I eligible to submit an essay if I was a winner in a previous contest from the Bill of Rights Institute?
Yes, winning students from previous years are eligible to participate in subsequent contests.  The entry submitted must be new and different from your previous winning entry.

If I didn’t win a prize, can I still find out how well I did in the Contest?
Because we receive so many entries, it is not possible to give individual feedback on entries. We realize that feedback is a vital part of becoming a better thinker and writer. For this reason, we encourage students to seek comments and feedback from teachers and other advisers before submitting their entry.

Is a title required for my entry?
No. Titles are not required for entries and will not be part of the evaluation process.

Will my entry be disqualified if I go over the word limit?

Unfortunately, yes.  This is required to help ensure no entry has an unfair advantage over another due to length.  Please adhere to the 800 word limit as given.

Do I need a Works Cited section/page with my entry?
We do not expect or require a Works Cited page or section for Contest entries. If you use quotes from individuals or research, simple citations will suffice. For example:

An example of what I am referring to comes from James Madison when he said in Federalist #51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”


“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (James Madison, 1788)

Either format for citing sources used in your entry will suffice.

What are the essay prizes?
1st Place – $5,000

2nd Place – $3,000

3rd Place – $1,500

Honorable Mention (5 prizes): $300 each

Early Submission Bonus: Students who submit their entries by November 15, 2014, will have their names put into a drawing to receive one of five $100 Early Bird cash prizes.

Teachers of winning students will also win prizes:

1st Place Teacher – $500

2nd Place Teacher – $250

3rd Place Teacher – $150

Teacher Nomination Bonus: Teachers with more than five nominations will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 gift card.

What are the video prizes?

1st Place – $1,000

What are the judges looking for?
We the Students Scholarship Contest submissions will focus on the ideas of the Declaration of Independence and their relevance today.  A well-written essay will completely adhere to the topic and fully answer all parts of the question. Judges are looking for the following:

  • adherence to the Essay Guidelines (as stated in Section III of the Rules and Regulations)
  • depth of analysis of documents and enduring importance
  • strength of personal response
  • originality
  • organization
  • writing style

How long does my essay have to be?
There is no minimum required length for an entry; however, you cannot exceed the 800 word limit with your entry.

How long does my video have to be?
There is no minimum required length for an entry; however, you cannot exceed the 2.5 minute limit with your entry.

When will the winners be announced?

Winners for the Bill of Rights Institute’s We the Students Scholarship Contest will be announced on this website on or before February 16, 2015.

If I need help and can’t find the answer online, what do I do?
You can contact us via email at lripp@BillofRightsInstitute.org or you can call us at (703) 894-1776, ext. 21.