National Merit Scholarship
Who's Eligible: High school juniors
Award Amount: Up to $2,500
Due Date: October
No essays, no teacher recommendations, no submitting your high school transcript—the National Merit Scholarship sounds like a breeze! Don't be fooled. To apply for this elite scholarship program, students have to take the PSATs—also called the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT)—during their third year in high school. Score high enough and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation will simply hand you a check. The good news is that even if you are not in the 15,000 finalists chosen every year, landing in the top 50,000 will win you a National Merit commendation that can be sent to two colleges or universities of your choice. You can prep for the PSAT over here.