The VFW's Patriot's Pen youth essay contest is for students in 6th-8th grade. Each year more than 165,400 students enter for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards. Prizes and scholarships can be awarded at the Post, District, State and national level. Department (State) winners receive a portion of $55,000 in national awards. National Winners will receive at least $500. The first-place national award is currently $5,000.