As a college student, why should I care about the #2020Census?

By Laurianne Gutierrez, CCAR Student Projects Coordinator 

Every 10 years, we are bestowed the unique opportunity to exercise an essential civic duty. That is, the Decennial Census comes to the fore, giving us the opportunity to make ourselves count. Many of us probably have some sort of vague recollection of the Census. Perhaps we learned about it in elementary school, though I am uncertain if we all grasped the extent of its significance and power to shape our futures at ten years old.

Before I get into why the Census is super important, let me briefly explain what the Decennial Census even is. The Decennial Census is a population count conducted by the federal government every 10 years, which helps determine how $675 billion in federal funds will be allocated. The Census supports programs such as housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy – basically, things that in some way, shape, or form affect each and every one of us on a daily basis.

Need more convincing as to why the Census is a really big deal?

Not only is your completion of the form your civic duty, the Census also ensures that schools, hospitals, and fire departments receive the funding they need. It helps communities plan for the future and improve the neighborhoods in which we live. The Census determines your representation in government, specifically “how many seats your state is allocated in the House of Representatives” (the United States Census Bureau).

For the first time ever, the 2020 Census will give you the option to fill out the form online. Of course, there is still the option to respond by phone or by mail. The Census will ask you basic questions about people living in your household. Every member living in your household as of April 1, 2020 should be counted.

The Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • Social Security numbers.
  • Bank or credit card account numbers.
  • Money or donations.
  • Anything on behalf of a political party

Furthermore, your information will be kept strictly confidential. The U.S. Census Bureau has a commitment and a legal responsibility to keep the information you provide safe and secure. Your information will NOT be shared with any law enforcement agency (such as DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA).  The Census will also NOT ask your citizenship status.

In the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2020 Census has updated its procedures to ensure that you are still counted even if you no longer live in college-sponsored housing. For example, if you are now living at home but used to live in college-sponsored housing (i.e. dorms, college apartments, fraternity/sorority (Greek) houses sanctioned by the college, etc.) prior to this outbreak, there is no need to respond! Your college will count you! If you live/lived in non-college-sponsored housing, you must fill out the Census on your own. If you are currently living in your apartment, you might have already received your invitation to fill out the Census. Once you receive this invitation, you can complete the Census online or by phone. If you are home and are NOT currently living in your non-college-sponsored housing to receive your invitation, please follow the instructions below:

“Go to Click the blue ‘Start Questionnaire’ button. Click ‘If you do not have a Census ID, click here’ link, and follow directions to get your 12 digit census ID. Then fill out the census. This applies to students who were living in private apartments, off-campus houses, etc.” (Sleepy Hollow Tarrytown Census 2020).

We all deserve a fair and accurate count. Are you in?