It happens every 10 years – the U.S. Census Bureau tries its best to conduct a complete count of the U.S. population. It is often a complicated process.
For example, how should parents count their students who are away at college? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, college students should be counted in the communities where they go to school and live the majority of the year. Most college students should be counted at their college address, either on campus or off campus. College students in dorms are considered residents of “group quarters” and usually the college or university helps the Census Bureau collect accurate information on this population. Students in off campus housing will receive a letter asking them to complete a census form for their residence.
U.S. Census data is used to determine funding for a variety of public programs including hospitals, roads, public utilities, and housing. Therefore, if students are at college the majority of the year, and use such services as the hospital, roads, and public utilities, it makes sense for students to fill out the census form for their college address.
There are some students who live at home while attending college. These students should be included when parents are filling out their census forms. Census forms will collect data on a particular address – and ask questions about all residents of that address. The 2020 census asks some pretty basic questions: according to the U.S. Census website the census will ask for name, age, race, gender, Hispanic Origin, household relationship, and a few housing questions. When completing the Census, you should count everyone who is living in your household on April 1, 2020 – including infants. All the information is kept confidential, and will not be shared with any other government agencies.
Confused? Your students may be too. Be sure to help guide them when they receive the census form. The UMW Center for Community Engagement has additional information on their website. And guess what? This year you can fill the census online as well as in paper format. A compete count is very important, so any help you can provide your student will be useful. Remember, everyone counts!
Sarah Dewees, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Center for Community Engagement