The Census

Why you should fill out the census and how.

Every ten years, the Census Bureau counts everyone who lives in the United States and the five US territories and collects data about the American population by distributing a form known as the census. The census includes questions to gather data about a participant’s age, sex, marital status, race, income, and education. There are no questions about citizenship on the census, meaning undocumented immigrants are protected from being deported.

The data in the census is used to determine the number of seats each state will have in the House of Representatives and in various state legislatures, affecting our democracy. It is also used to determine the distribution of money for federally funded programs which are determined based on an area’s population, income, age, and other factors. Accurate data ensures that programs such as Medicare and food stamps have the resources available to reach all that need assistance.

Right now, the government is working to accurately complete the 2020 Census. It can be completed by phone, mail, and for the first time, online, making it easier than ever to access.

While this task might sound simple, it is difficult for the Census Bureau to accurately establish the total US population because of misunderstandings about the census. Although participating in the census may be required by law, not everyone participates. This is detrimental because the census relies on each household to count the number of people living there.

For college students, it can be especially difficult to figure out how to fill out the census. Students should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time as of April 1st, 2020, which for most students, is their college town. Even if you are away from your student housing due to your school being closed because of COVID-19, you will be counted at the student housing where you lived prior to the pandemic.

If you live in private off-campus housing, you need to respond to the census yourself, and residents of each housing unit should fill out one questionnaire. If you live in housing solely meant for students, there are a couple of different options. However, because of COVID-19, it is likely that a representative of the building will be completing one form listing all students using data from the administration. College students that are foreign citizens attending school in the US should be counted at their address at school.

The census can be quite confusing, but it is essential that it is filled out and filled out accurately. If you have any questions go to or reach out to us!