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The Fiscal Challenge is a national competition wherein teams of students devise and defend their plans for putting the U.S. on a sustainable fiscal path. Founded by Professor Mike Aguilar and graduate student Danny Soques in 2012, the goals of the competition are to provide students with a hands-on learning experience and promote awareness of the fiscal difficulties facing the United States.

The format of the competition consists of two rounds. During the first round, college students from around the country electronically submit detailed proposals to achieve a stated policy objective. These proposals are reviewed by a planning committee, who identifies the final four teams. During the second round the finalists travel to Washington D.C. where they present and defend a summary of the plans in front of a panel of expert judges. The inaugural national competition was held last year and was won by Clemson University.

In his April 16, 2015 blog, economic policy correspondent for the Washington Post, Jim Tankersley, described the competition as “fascinating.” “When you turn a pack of smart college students loose on a thorny, long-term policy problem, you’re not going to end up with a bunch of answers that could pass Congress. You sort of get the opposite, policy making with more idealism than political calculation, and a window into how today’s young thinkers break from their elders who run the country right now,” wrote Tankersley.

The 2015-2016 competition, which will take place on February 26, 2016, launched earlier this fall and interest is high. Already, a few dozen teams have expressed interest in the hopes of making it to the final round in Washington, D.C. in mid-April.

If you are interested in viewing the presentations of last year’s finalists or want to learn more about the competition, visit the Fiscal Challenge website at

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