What Is the Student Search Service?

by Doug Wintemute

Updated September 19, 2022


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Student Search Service is an opt-in program that provides your contact information to colleges, exposing you to schools, scholarships, and opportunities — and filling your mailbox.

The Student Search Service from the College Board provides more than 5.6 million high school students with information on program and funding opportunities from 1,900 higher education institutions every year. After opting in for the service and choosing their interests, participants receive information directly from schools and financial aid programs.

Students typically opt in during registration for a national standardized test, usually between grades 10-12. Registering means students will receive information on scholarships and support programs, helping limit the amount of time they have to spend searching opportunities on their own. In addition to financial aid information, participants may learn about colleges and offerings, application requirements, and campus events and activities.

According to the College Board, no commercial entities have access to the student information recorded for the service.

This article offers in-depth information about the service, including how it works, who it benefits, and how to opt out of the Student Search Service process if you don't want to be included.

Understanding the Student Search Service

Students who opt in to Student Search Service agree to provide participating colleges, universities, and nonprofit funding programs with access to their basic information, such as name, age, graduation year, and email address. The decision to opt in or not has no bearing on standardized test results.

In addition to basic biographical information, learners can also provide additional information to help more relevant schools and programs find them. Details like high school GPA, completed high school courses, educational interests, and school preferences may lead to more specific offers from colleges and universities.

For the school and program participants, the Student Search Service gives access to millions of college-bound students. Institutional participants also have access to the student's standardized test results from the College Boards, which helps them know if students qualify for their programs. After paying a license fee, those colleges and programs can send communications and promotional materials to students. However, they cannot access that information or send materials if a student opts out.

The exchange between students, schools, and programs helps streamline the school search and student recruitment process for both sides. Student participants save time researching possible schools and scholarships, and schools and scholarship programs can find more application candidates.

How Does Student Search Service Work?

Learners can opt in for the Student Search Service while signing up online or when taking the SAT, the Preliminary SAT (PSAT), the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, or the PSAT 10. They can also update their profiles and information on the College Board website, where they can create and edit a list of institutions that interest them.

Once students have enrolled in the service, the College Board adds their information to a mailing list that schools and programs can access if they pay the license fees. From there, institutions can contact students directly. Participants can opt out and remove their information from the College Board's mailing list at any time.

Should I Sign Up for Student Search Service?

Every individual student needs to decide if the Student Search Service is right for them. The service offers many benefits for prospective degree-seekers looking for information on schools and programs, but it does not suit everyone.


  • Free Service

    Signing up for the Student Search Service requires zero payments and it can result in financial aid opportunities.
  • Easy to Opt Out

    If participants change their mind about the Student Search Service, they can simply opt out and receive no further communications.
  • Find New Opportunities

    Through the Student Search Service, students can learn about programs and funding opportunities that they might otherwise have missed.


  • Many Emails

    When registered with the Student Search Service, participants should expect to receive a high volume of emails.
  • Time-consuming

    Completing the required information and sorting through communications from schools may take a significant amount of time.
  • Phishing Scams

    Participants and nonparticipants are both targeted by phishing scams, but those who opted in may be more susceptible to falling for a scam that is posing as the College Board or a participating institution.

Is Student Search Service Worth It?

The Student Search Service can offer a great deal of value to some students and no value to others. The process of opting in and providing information can take time, and the amount of emails participants receive can be burdensome, but they can also pay off.

Those debating whether to opt in or not should consider whether they need additional school options. Students who have a school in mind and have already done extensive scholarship research may not benefit much from the service. However, learners who cannot access school recruiters or college fairs or are more flexible in their schooling plans may find the service useful.

Student Search Service: How Do I Opt Out?

The College Board takes information privacy and security seriously, as seen in its privacy settings. The organization only collects information on participants over the age of 13 and only shares the information listed as part of the Student Search Service, and then only shares it with participating institutions — not corporate entities.

The student search service opt-out process is relatively simple, and there are a few ways to do it. Participants can follow the opt-out instructions on the College Board's website, call the provided phone number, or email the customer service address. Participants can also opt out of any third-party advertising they agreed to receive by following the unsubscribe instructions on each communication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Student Search Service of the College Board?

The Student Search Service shares student information with colleges, universities, and scholarship programs. Participating organizations can then send recruitment and promotional materials directly to students.

How Do I Get Colleges to Notice Me?

In addition to submitting information via the Student Search Service, prospective students can get colleges and universities to notice them by earning competitive grades, scoring high test scores, and completing strong applications. Degree-seekers can also attend college fairs and orientations and speak to admissions representatives directly.

How Do You Get College Letters Sent to You?

Students can receive communications from schools by signing up for the Student Search Service, opting in for other college and university communication services and programs, or requesting communications directly from schools.

Do I Have to Take the SAT Exam to Sign Up for the Student Search Service?

While the SAT exam does have an opt-in section for the Student Search Service, students can also opt in through other standardized tests or by simply signing up on the College Board website.

Portrait of Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.

Header Image Credit: PeopleImages | Getty Images

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