Our goals are to graduate students, in as close to four years, with as little debt as possible. The first part of our strategy is to support students in their application to universities that provide merit scholarships and to match students to the schools that will provide those scholarships to them. We use an algorithm to match students and look at extensive data to update our list of universities each year. This is the part that makes us different from other college counselors.

But sometimes students want to attend a school that is not a financial fit so every year, we support students in searching for, and applying to, scholarships. It is important to note that we do not provide students with scholarships; we point students to scholarships that may work for them. Students should use this support to continue their own searches and should not rely on what we are providing them. With our clients, we do also review their scholarship applications. If you are interested in becoming a client, please look here.

As we begin sending out scholarships to our clients, here is a list of tips to support your scholarship search. And remember, many scholarships are open to early grades, so you don’t have to wait until you are about to head out the door to start looking. Happy hunting!

1. Set a Google alert.

You can go to alerts.google.com to set up a Google alert. These are alerts that will come to your inbox as often as you like, and are set according to the keywords that you enter. You will learn pretty quickly that you have to be specific because typing something as generic as “scholarship” will blow up your inbox. The Google alert is searching the entire internet for anywhere that word has appeared, so think strategically about what you want to enter.

2. Check out the colleges where you applied.

When you applied to college, you most likely applied to a good number of scholarships when you applied. But some schools have a different set of scholarships that are not offered in the application. Head to the college’s website to see what other scholarships they may have.

3. Look where your parents are looking.

While students are the ones headed to college, it’s most likely your folks who are footing the bill. That is why you may find that a good number of scholarships are available in places that are more adult-friendly, including your parents’ workplaces. Many large companies offer scholarships and you may find scholarships in the magazines and websites that your parents are interested in. This is also a good clue for setting your Google alert.

4. Stay away from becoming the unintended advertiser.

In the age of social media, many companies are interested in how young people behave online. What better way to get insight than to have a contest that asks young people to hashtag, post, and like a product with the off chance of winning some scholarship money? I haven’t known these to pan out, so I tend to advise students to stay away. Contests are great and you will find a good number of writing contests that provide scholarships to winners. Just stay away from the ones that want you to pose with a product and post it to your IG, for example.

5. It should always be free.

To a similar end, many scholarships will ask you to pay some money to enter a contest. All scholarships should be free for you to enter. If it is asking for any amount of money, stay away. This goes for those things that you may get in the mail asking for some money to be recognized in a book or given some title. If it is legit, it is free.

6. Renewable. Renewable. Renewable.

Aside from the above, you want to make sure you are applying to scholarships that are renewable. This is the first priority. If the scholarship is not renewable, bear in mind that you will be short that amount of money next year and have to apply for more. While some scholarships will send a check to your school, most of them will give you a check. This means that you have to do your own yearly budget, as well as your year-to-year budget. You may find that you receive more scholarships than you actually need for one year; in that case, save it, and use what you can for the following year. Either way, prioritize scholarships that can be renewed from year to year.