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25 Excellent “Dot Gov” Tools to Research Any Online School

by Theresa Donahue on September 29, 2009

Do you trust the U.S. government to provide you with excellent research tools that focus on online colleges or distant learning classes? If so, you have a vast resource available at your fingertips, including search engines, papers devoted to spreading education through online courses, and information on how to finance that college career. In all cases, the government focuses on accredited colleges and courses, which emphasize quality in environment and in education.

The following list of 25 excellent “.gov” tools were meant to research any online school. The resources are divided into three categories, and each link is listed alphabetically to show readers we do not favor one tool or resource over another.

Search Tools

  1. Academic Institutional Profiles Search: The last study contains information from 2006, and it includes profiles for universities and colleges that have reported data within the previous three survey years to that date. Academic Institutional Profiles are produced annually by the Division of Science Resources Statistics (SRS) of the National Science Foundation (NSF). You also can use a list of institutions rather than the search engine if you prefer.
  2. Campus Security Statistics: If your primary concern is campus security, this search engine allows you to link to reported crimes for over 6,000 U.S. colleges and universities. Although online courses can help you to avoid on-campus disruptions, these same disruptions can affect your online education.
  3. Choose a School: Students.gov offers a list of college Web sites that you can peruse, including some online colleges, universities that offer online courses and more.
  4. College Finder: Select the type of college you want to attend, private or public, and let this search engine find the college of your dreams.
  5. College Navigator: Find schools, build a list for side-by-side comparisons, pinpoint school locations and export your results into a spreadsheet with the tools within this National Center for Education Statistics Web site.
  6. College Wizard: Use this Federal Student Aid quiz to find a college that meets your needs. Answer questions offered by this quiz and the results will match you with colleges that offer what you need.
  7. Find the Right Colleges for You: The Federal Student Aid program provides a search engine to find colleges across the U.S.
  8. Government Distance Learning Programs: Many government agencies participate in distance learning programs, and each agency has its own group of available courses. Learn more about who can take these courses and what is available at this site sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
  9. Graduate Students: If you’ve finalized your undergraduate degree and need more information about government offerings to continue your online education at the graduate level, you may want to browse through this three-page list of both college and financial opportunities.
  10. School, College and Library Search: This search engine is offered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
  11. Search for Private Schools: Which private schools maintain online education and distance-learning programs? You can learn more with this database search offered by the National Center for Education Statistics.
  12. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs: Each of the postsecondary educational institutions and programs contained within the database is, or was, accredited by an accrediting agency or state approval agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a “reliable authority as to the quality of postsecondary education.”
  13. White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities: Click on the links for any school to learn more about that institution and whether you can attend distance learning classes or online classes.

Financial Resources

  1. FAFSA: Although this tool does not offer any means to research schools, it is a tool to gain financing help. And, when you complete the application, you are asked to supply the schools that you want to receive your information. In this process, you can learn whether your online school is listed in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid’s database.
  2. Federal Aid: The U.S. Department of Education provides both a list and a search engine for students and/or parents to learn more about government funding for education, both online and on campus.
  3. Find Funding: The National Science Foundation offers a search engine that can help you to find funding opportunities, awards and more to help pay for your college education.
  4. Grants.gov: This is a valuable resource for any student to find and apply for federal government grants. This site is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  5. Tools and Resources: The Federal Student Aid program comes to the rescue again, providing information about how to fund that college education, no matter your choice. Most accredited online colleges and distance learning courses do accept government funding for a student’s education, and readers can learn about that funding process, too.

Learn More

  1. Accreditation in the United States: The goal of accreditation is to ensure that an institution meets acceptable levels of quality. You can learn more about accreditation at this U.S. Department of Education site and browse lists of accrediting agencies, lists of accredited schools and more.
  2. Career Colleges and Technical Schools: This Web site provides you with questions you’ll want to ask before enrolling in any career college or technical school.
  3. Choosing a School: Offered by the Federal Student Aid program, this page provides links for learning more about the various types of colleges and helps students with college selection processes.
  4. College.gov: The U.S. Department of Education, in collaboration with students, is building this site to be the go-to source for information and resources about planning, preparing and paying for two- to four-year colleges and universities.
  5. Diploma Mills and Accreditation: Learn more about the U.S. government’s definition of a diploma mill and degrees offered by these facilities.
  6. ERIC Education Resources Information Center: Although geared to publishers, authors and librarians, this site offers a plethora of studies conducted about online education and distance learning. Abstracts offer key information, and full documents are available in PDF.
  7. Tribal College Resource Center: Use this page to learn about the American Indian College Fund, the American Competitiveness Initiative and more.
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