Jan 23, 2009

Helping ME Online

Pulling myself away from the topic of the new administration, turns out there are other things going on in dot-gov. Like college.gov from the Department of Education (Ed).

This is a portal to Ed college resources in a slick presentation layer. The interactive videos and easy to understand language are signs of a good experience.

We are going to use the Free Application for Student Financial Aid on the web as soon as my husband gets back from Sundance. It is great to have the application on the Web. It's this type of web tool--more so than blogs or tweet streams that make online government relevant for citizens.

The top queries on USA.GOV are not about White House twittering or videos of fireside chats. They are much more pragmatic, like:

Summary - Down Arrow: Sort this list of answers in descending order, from Z to A Summary - UP Arrow: Sort this list of answers in ascending order, from A to Z
1 Government Grants and Loans for Individuals
2 DOS: National Passport Information Center (NPIC)
3 State and Territorial Governments
4 Food Stamps
5 Social Security Administration (SSA)
6 Housing Assistance - Purchasing
7 Tax "Rebates" for Americans
8 Passports: Renewing a Passport Book or Card
9 State Fish and Wildlife Agencies
10 Travel Overseas: Foreign Entry Requirements

People want money, passports, aid, benefits, and help getting to those resources. So as we work to add the coolest new features to the dot-gov menu, let's not forget to serve the needs and desires of The People.

With all the hype about Madoff, I had toyed with the idea of ponzi scheme to pay for college, but will try the online application instead. And I'm glad that it's there.

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