Private student loan provider Sallie Mae has updated its online scholarship search tool, nearly doubling the number of available scholarships to 5 million.

Students can search for scholarships worth nearly $24 billion by filling out a free registration and profile. Scholarship Search by Sallie Mae sends out alerts when it finds a new match, providing information about the award amount, requirements, and application deadlines.

Sallie Mae video demonstrating how to use the company’s scholarship search tool.

Registering to use the search tool puts students in the running to win Sallie Mae’s “Plan for College Sweepstakes,” which awards $1,000 each month. This month, the award’s been upped to $5,000, to commemorate National Scholarship month.

Sallie Mae offers the following advice on landing a scholarship:

  • Don’t pass up applying for a scholarship because it seems to small. Every little bit helps. Scholarships don’t have to be paid back and can pay for textbooks and other college-related expenses.
  • Keep an eye on application deadlines, and pay attention to details. Missing a deadline or overlooking application requirements will likely disqualify an applicant.
  • Apply every year you’re in school. Half of available scholarships are for students who are already enrolled.
  • Never pay for scholarships or for scholarship searches.

Sallie Mae — the “doing business as” name of SLM Corp. — is a provider of private education loans to students or their families that are not issued, insured, or guaranteed by state or federal government. Sallie Mae says its education loans “are made largely to bridge the gap between the cost of higher education and the amount funded through financial aid, government loans, or customers’ resources.”

In its most recent report to investors, the publicly-traded company said private education loan originations were up 6 percent during the three months ending Sept. 30 from a year ago, to $1.7 billion. Sallie Mae is on target to make $4.3 billion in private student loans this year.

Other free sources of information about scholarships include:

A longtime news reporter and editor, Matt Carter is out to help consumers find the information they need to make informed decisions about their personal finances. He's an avid producer and consumer of news and analysis about new business models and tools, market trends, and politics and regulations. Email: