The goal of the 2020 Census is a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the United States and its five territories. You should count yourself at the place where you were living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020 (Census Day).
For some, this is straightforward. But others may have questions about where they should count themselves or how they should respond. Below are some questions that Minnesota's college students, parents, and school administrators commonly ask:
Special note: With the spread of COVID-19, many students have been displaced from where they were living. Please know that even during these extraordinary times, completing your Census is still very important. Census data are currently being used by state and federal governments to model the spread of COVID-19 and to plan their responses to it. Even in more normal times, the Census helps ensure that funding goes to the people and communities that need it most. More than $28,000 per person each decade is distributed by the federal government to Minnesotans based on the Census count. This funding goes toward critical programs like Pell Grants and health care services.
Q1: How can I take the census?
- The 2020 Census is available online, by phone, and by mail. Online and phone responses can be completed in 13 languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese). A paper form will be mailed to every house that hasn't responded after four mail pieces. For information on non-English languages, see our directory of language resources.
Q2: I live on campus. How should I respond to the Census?
- If you normally live on campus in a dormitory or other University-owned housing you do not need to fill out your form. The school will complete the Census for you. The Census Bureau counts on-campus college students this way in order to get the most accurate count possible for people living in group housing settings. If you have moved back home because of COVID-19, you do not need to be included on your parent's census form.
Q3: I live off campus. How should I respond to the Census?
- Students who normally live off campus in a private house or apartment should be counted at that house or apartment.
- All roommates should try to fill out one form together. Count everyone who would normally be living in your apartment or house, even if some or all of you have moved because of COVID-19. If you and your roommates cannot fill out a single form, you may submit responses to the Census Bureau separately.
Q5: Where should I be counted if I temporarily moved due to COVID-19?
- College students who usually live away from home should be counted at the on- or off-campus residence where they lived before they were displaced because of the COVID-19 situation.
Q6: How should I respond to the census if I vote in another state?
- You are counted at your school address, on the basis of where you live most of the time. You are not counted based on where you vote or pay taxes.
Q7: What if my parents live somewhere else?
- If you live away from your parents, they should not county you, even if you are staying with them right now because of COVID-19. You should be counted at your school address where you live and sleep most of the time.
Q8: What should I do if my parents put me on their census form anyway?
- The Census Bureau has algorithms in place that can see you were counted twice and one of the entries will be removed. No problem!
Q9: I live in the United States but I was studying abroad on April 1, 2020. Should I be counted?
- No. Students who were living or studying abroad outside of the United States on April 1, 2020 are not counted in the census.
- Students who returned from abroad by April 1, 2020 are counted where they were living in the U.S. on April 1, 2020. If students returned from abroad earlier than planned because of COVID-19 they should be counted where they were living on April 1, 2020.
Q10: I am a foreign student. Should I be counted?
- Yes! Foreign students living and attending school in the United States should be counted at the on-or off-campus residence where they live and sleep most of the time.
Q11: What should I do if someone is living with me due to COVID-19 displacement?
- If someone such as a college student is living with you temporarily due to COVID-19 displacement, they should be counted where they ordinarily would be living for most of the year. If they do not have a permanent residence, they should be counted where they were staying on April 1, 2020.
Q12: Why does the census matter and why should I fill it out?
- The census determines how communities are represented and are officially "seen" for purposes of programs and services like fire departments, roads, schools (i.e. lunch programs, child care programs, special education funds, and more), parks, health care programs (i.e. Medicaid), Pell Grants, contracts for small businesses, and much more! Explore Counting for Dollars to see which major federal programs allocate money to Minnesota based on census counts.
- Your voice and being counted matters! Minnesota is at risk of losing a Congressional seat, from eight to seven. Minnesota has not lost a Congressional seat since the 1960 Census. If we are not counted and if we lose a seat in Congress our districts all get larger and we essentially are not represented as we once were.
- Census data are key for research and economic development.
- Each Minnesotan uncounted corresponds to communities losing $28,000 over 10 years. No matter one's gender, race, religion, or citizenship status, we all benefit from having the programs listed above adequately funded.
Q13: Is the census safe? Is the census confidential?
- Yes! The census is both safe and confidential.
- Your responses to the 2020 Census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics and they cannot be used against you in any way. By law, all responses to U.S. Census Bureau household and business surveys are kept completely confidential.
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