With planning and foresight, Nicholas Myers of Fishers, Ind., finished high school in three years. He took required senior-year classes early and completed extra courses online.
There were, of course, trade-offs: He passed up senior prom and missed a trip to New York City with the finance club.
Mr. Myers, 18, now completing his freshman year at Ball State University, says it was worth it.
"Nowadays we have CEOs in their 20s," he says. "If I get out a year early, that's a year extra of pay, and that's a year earlier of retirement. That's a whole year of my time that I can do whatever I want—make some money, invest some money or just relax."
His hard work has already paid off: Mr. Myers was awarded $4,000 from the state of Indiana to be used at one of several dozen state-approved colleges or universities. In addition to Indiana, Minnesota, Utah, South Dakota and Idaho also give scholarships as an incentive to accelerate high school diplomas, often cutting public-school costs. Twenty-four other states explicitly allow early diplomas for students who earn required credits. Others are expanding ways students can earn college credit in high school, or high-school credit in middle school or junior high.