Deadline for Sanders’ State of the Union Essay Contest Approaches

BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 3 – The deadline for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) eighth annual State of the Union essay contest is one week from today. Vermont high school students must submit their essays on the senator’s website by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10. 

As the president prepares to give his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress later this month, Sanders has asked Vermont high school students to describe what they think are the most pressing issues facing the United States and what they would do to solve them. The 250-500 word essays can be on any issue of national importance. 

A volunteer panel of Vermont teachers will judge the essays and select a winner based on the students’ ideas and arguments. The top 20 finalists will have their essays entered into the Congressional Record -- the official archive of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Sanders will also hold a roundtable discussion with the finalists at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier in February.

The students’ political views will have no impact on how the panel judges the essays.  “I want to hear from as many students as possible – it doesn’t matter to me what their views are.  What matters is that they are engaged,” said Sanders, who serves on the Senate education committee. “We need our students to help find solutions for the problems that face our country. That’s what democracy is all about.”

Since Sanders held the first State of the Union essay contest, thousands of students from schools throughout Vermont have written essays on a wide range of important issues such as the declining middle class, climate change, health care, the national debt, the rising cost of a college education, and many other topics.

For more information about the contest or to submit an essay, please visit Sanders’ Senate webpage at