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Ensuring an Accurate Count of College Students and Towns in the 2020 Census

Release Number CB20-CN.64
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JUNE 18, 2020 — The U.S. Census Bureau is reaching out to colleges and universities with significant off-campus student populations to help ensure they are counted in the right place in the 2020 Census. Earlier this week, Director Dr. Steven Dillingham sent a letter to college and university presidents asking them to provide roster information for off-campus students. This information allows the Census Bureau to count the students where they would have been staying on April 1, 2020, even if they went home early due to a school closure or shift to distance learning.

Dr. Dillingham thanked administrators for their help in ensuring a complete and accurate count of college students, as an accurate count is important to every community’s funding, political representation and planning decisions. The census counts people where they live and sleep most of the time, and that includes college students. With many students having left their college campuses because of school closures before census questionnaires were delivered, the Census Bureau needs help counting students where they would have been living and sleeping as of April 1, 2020.

The Census Bureau asked presidents for assistance in counting students who may not have responded on their own by sharing basic demographic information already provided to the university for off-campus students. Census Bureau staff began calling school officials June 16, and at a minimum will request full name, date of birth, and local and alternative addresses. By having access to this information, the Census Bureau can ensure college students are counted in the right place, including removing duplicate responses to the census or to count the student (if there is no other record of the same individual in another location). As with all information the Census Bureau collects, this personal information is protected by law.

For more information on how the 2020 Census can impact college students and how to count them, visit 2020census.gov/grads.

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