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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release                                     January 15, 1999


VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT SERVICES TO BETTER SERVE STUDENTS

Administration Pilots Service for Post-Secondary Students
To Get One-Stop Government Services over the Internet

Vice President Gore announced today that, starting this fall, college students will be able to use the Internet to access one-stop government services.

The Vice President unveiled Access America for Students today at the Global Forum on Reinventing Government. The Access America for Students action plan refocuses the delivery of federal electronic services across agency boundaries to better serve post-secondary students who need government services. Ten schools participating in the Federal Family Education Loan Program, Federal Pell Grant Program, and Federal Direct Loan Program are partnering with government to plan, develop, and pilot the Access America for Students initiative ˝ DeVry Institute of Technology in Illinois, New York University, Tarrant County Junior College in Texas, the University of Florida, the University of Missouri (Kansas City), the University of Northern Colorado, Western Governors University in Utah, George Washington University in the District of Columbia, Iowa State University, and Tennessee State University.

"We need to make effective use of todayÝs technology to improve citizen services and reduce government costs," Vice President Gore said. "This pilot program will provide the basis for continued efforts to make online government transactions available not only to students, but also to any customer, who wishes to receive services electronically."

Federal services initially planned for the pilot include student aid application, requests for address changes, certifications for veteran student benefits, e-file for federal taxes, passport applications, and online recreational park services. Today, many colleges are using campus card technology to integrate student services. The Access America pilot will explore the use of technology and commercial services that are compatible with campus cards and takes advantages of existing commercial financial services and electronic payment infrastructures.

Privacy and security are key objectives of the Access America for Students Program. Students who take part in this pilot test will use electronic identification methods, such as digital signatures. Students will provide feedback on these issues throughout the pilot.

"The technology exists today to provide the necessary protection to conduct highly sensitive financial transactions online," said the Vice President. "Our aim in this pilot is to prove these same technologies are sufficiently secure for people to do business with the government."

Students at the pilot schools will have an opportunity to use three new features: (1) a website gateway to access government services electronically, (2) an electronic ID, and (3) a single, integrated student account.

Federal agencies, industry partners, and academic institutions are exploring the Access America for Students model as a way to align resources to better serve their student customers, to eliminate duplication of effort, and to enable students to complete government transactions over the Internet.

The role of the school does not change under Access America for Students. Schools will continue their traditional role as primary point of contact for students. They will continue to determine a studentÝs eligibility and aid package. They will continue to select their own banking partners and to receive all student aid money up front to be applied to the student account, and they will calculate and apply credit balances to student bank accounts.

Similarly, the role of the lender does not change in the new program either. Banks and other lending institutions will continue to play the vital role of providing education funds to students and working with their school partners to provide access to funds. They will continue providing campus card services, student bank accounts, and other services. And, along with the schools, lenders will play an advisory role in developing a common process and student aid account.

Access America pilot tests will be conducted in the fall of 1999, with plans to expand to a larger number of campuses in 2000.

Vice President Gore also reminds eligible student borrowers that time is running out for them to consolidate their school loans at a special low interest of 7.46%. "Students can save hundreds of dollars in interest payments by consolidating their eligible direct federal or federally guaranteed loans into the Education DepartmentÝs direct loan program," said the Vice President. "But they only have until January 31st ˇ just 16 more days ˇ to get their loan consolidation applications post-marked or transmitted over the World Wide Web (www.ed.gov)." Applications postmarked or transmitted later will be approved at a higher interest rate, one equal to the weighted average rate of the loans being consolidated. "The reinvented Education Department is ready to handle the last minute crush. They are already processing a volume of applications that has quadrupled in the last few weeks, and they are doing it faster than loan industry standards."

Contact Kelly Paisley at (202) 694-0051 or kelly.paisley@npr.gov or Tom Flavin at (202) 694-0032.