Sallie Mae's Scholarship Tips (Graphic: Business Wire)

College scholarships come in all shapes and sizes, and billions of dollars are awarded every year; the key is knowing where to find them. This National Scholarship Month, Sallie Mae — the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company — is reminding students that finding free money for college is just a few clicks away, thanks to Scholarship Search by Sallie Mae, the free scholarship search home to 5 million scholarships valued at $24 billion.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161103006282/en/

Available scholarships run the gamut and extend well beyond academics or athletics to a wide range of activities, interests, and affiliations. From scholarships for dart players and vegetarians to filmmakers and those fluent in Klingon, Scholarship Search by Sallie Mae offers awards that match all kinds of interests.

Scholarship Search is easy to use: just register (for free), fill out a brief profile, and start searching. The tool responds with matches that identify relevant scholarships and their award amounts, application requirements, and deadlines, and it automatically sends updates when it identifies new matches. Have a passion for designing greeting cards? There's a scholarship for that! Interested in helping people understand the perils of texting when driving or have an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of " Atlas Shrugged?" There are scholarships for both!

"Scholarship money doesn't have to be paid back, and it can significantly reduce out-of-pocket college costs for families," said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. "In fact, more than a third of college costs were covered by scholarships and grants in the 2015-2016 academic year. It's worth investing the time to investigate scholarships, and our Scholarship Search tool simplifies the process, so students can spend less time researching and more time refining their applications."

Those who register for Sallie Mae's Scholarship Search are also automatically eligible to win the Plan for College Sweepstakes, which awards $1,000 each month to a winner selected at random. To commemorate National Scholarship Month, Sallie Mae is increasing the amount awarded in the November drawing to $5,000.

Sallie Mae offers these scholarship tips:
  • Be careful. Never pay for scholarships or for scholarship searches. School counselors and school financial aid offices can recommend other reputable options.
  • Be thorough. Don't overlook smaller scholarships. Even a few hundred dollars can help offset the cost of textbooks and supplies.
  • Be proactive. Apply for scholarships every year. Approximately 50 percent of available scholarships are for students already enrolled in college.
  • Be diligent. Pay attention to details. Follow instructions and proofread carefully.
  • Be on time. Meet deadlines. If the application can't be submitted electronically, use certified mail.

In addition to offering the free Scholarship Search, Sallie Mae also awards its own scholarships. In the past 12 months, Sallie Mae has provided more than $414,000 in scholarships to nonprofit organizations; to students through its " Make College Happen Challenge ," " Bridging the Dream" scholarship, and other scholarship programs; and to employees. In connection with National Scholarship Month, the company's charitable foundation, The Sallie Mae Fund, will match contributions employees make to institutions of higher learning or educational scholarship funds during November, up to $500 per employee.

For more tips on how to find and apply for scholarships, check out Sallie Mae's scholarship infographic, watch the Scholarship Search video, and join the Twitter chat Sallie Mae co-hosts with Smart College Visit on Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. (EST). To participate, use hashtag #CampusChat.

For more information on saving, planning, and paying for college, visit SallieMae.com. For official sweepstakes rules, visit Plan for College Sweepstakes. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at SallieMae.com. Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

If you liked this article you might like

These Stocks Show Change of Direction

Going Long (Weekend) and Strong (3 Charts)

Own Sallie Mae for the Long Term Despite Revenue Miss

U.S. Political Parties Differ on Solving Student Debt Crisis, Too

Another Bone of Contention Between Political Parties: Student Loan Debt