Gore backs all-access pilot to bring online services to college students

The Education Department will spearhead a program to let college students find
services online beginning this fall.


The program, called Access America for Students, is based on Vice President Al
Gore’s Access America plan and will give students access to both government and
commercial services. Federal agencies, academic institutions and vendors will align their
resources to serve students and enable complete government transactions online, Gore said.


The pilot would initially involve 10 schools around the country but can be expanded to
other schools if it is successful, Gore said. The vice president introduced the plan last
month at the two-day Global Forum on Reinventing Government in Washington.


“Any student will be able to use a special Web site to access the services that
they need the most,” Gore said.


The plan will provide students with some form of electronic identification. There will
be different ID methods, including smart cards and personal identification numbers. Most
of the schools already have some type of ID system in place, administration officials
said.


Initially, the federal services offered in the pilot will include student loan
qualification, student aid application and allocation, address change request, passport
application and online campsite reservation.


Commercial services, such as card-based purchases on campus and from local merchants,
can be bundled with the services to provide a one-stop shop, Gore said.


The pilot will also study the creation of a common student account structure to
consolidate education loans.


Access America for Students will use the existing relationships among schools,
businesses and government, Gore said. “We’re not changing the roles,” he
said.


The schools participating in the pilot are DeVry Institute of Technology in Illinois,
New York University, Tarrant County Junior College in Texas, the University of Florida,
the University of Missouri at Kansas City, the University of Northern Colorado and the
Western Governor’s University in Utah. Three schools will participate in an advisory
capacity: George Washington University in Washington, Iowa State University and Tennessee
State University.
             


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