The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) is leading an effort across multiple government offices and agencies to provide you with a convenient way to access information you may need as you proceed toward your educational goals. Students.gov is part of a larger network of government sites and a project called USA.gov. This network was first available online in 2000 as part of an initiative to create an "official web portal…[that] makes it easy for the public to get U.S. government information and services on the web." There are so many online resources available for students from multiple government agencies. Students.gov helps you to identify and access them as a "student gateway to the U.S. government."
Think of Students.gov as a catalog of links to specific web pages that may be helpful to you as a college student. The catalog includes state and federal sites, private and non-profit partner organizations, and colleges and universities. This catalog should be time saving and less frustrating than trying to identify all of the relevant agencies and search their sites individually for information and answers to your questions. It is also free to use and there are no costs associated with the items included as resources. Don't overlook government materials in your search for educational and career resources! You may be surprised at the amount of information and guidance available to assist you with the decisions you will have to make about schools, funding, and careers.
Finding the Resources You Need
There are multiple ways to explore the resources provided on Students.gov and to search for specific information of interest to you.
- Categories – The site offers navigation through specific topics: Plan your education, Pay for your education, Career development, Campus life, Online study help, Military service, and Your government online. Each category has its own page with a list of related sub-topics to help you continue your search.
- I want to…This drop-down menu includes specific tasks you may be trying to accomplish. Select the task you are interested in and click Go. Examples of these tasks include: find state financial aid, find the right school, and get tax help.
- Search within results – The site provides a typical search feature, but it has an interesting filter. Once you type in a keyword to search, you can then fine-tune the result list by adding additional keywords. Try the following as an example: Search for Financial Aid, then add Scholarships, and finally State and you'll end up with a short list of resources to explore. Try the "search within results" feature with your own keywords.
- FAQs – The site has already identified a list of common questions presented with answers in four primary areas: Financial aid, Careers, College planning, and the Students.gov site itself.
Online Study Help
You'll see that the USDOE provides specific information for online students and individuals considering online programs. Look for "Online Study Help" in the navigation menu. Here you will find two types of resources.
- Online Research & Information – a large list categorized by work field (e.g. Science & Medicine, Business & Finance). These links take you to sites with a variety of information to help you with your studies – instructional materials, maps, research reports, information databases, as well as videos and multimedia presentations. Browsing some of these sites may even spark ideas for your papers and projects.
- Study Skills – a collection of links to sites focused on helping you become a successful online student. These resources include references to help you improve your writing, study, and time management skills. You'll also find tips related to textbooks and libraries.
A few resources…
Here are just a few of the interesting links I stumbled upon while reviewing Students.gov. Hopefully these give you an idea of the range of information linked to the site.
- FedStats allows you to access reports and databases across government agencies. Search by topic, state, district, or agency.
- Federal Resources for Educational Excellence includes animations, documents, photos, and videos organized by academic topic.
- 360degrees of Financial Literacy provides ways to learn more about personal finances with free calculators, webinars, and other information. There is a special section for college students.
- Exploratorium presents online exhibits from the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception. Explore a variety of videos and interactive activities.
- Public Library Search allows you to find a library near you! Try entering your zip code into the search form.
- Tax Information for Students is provided by the Internal Revenue Service and includes information about forms, filing, and potential tax credits.
Help add to the Students.gov list!
Do you know of other government sites that might be helpful for online students? You may come across agencies and websites that are helpful to you as you conduct your own research. Consider submitting your suggestions to Students.gov and letting us know about them here!