Census count ending early

August 6, 2020
  • Advocacy
  • census
  • Federal relations

The U.S. Census Bureau will end all counting efforts for the 2020 Census on September 30, a month sooner than previously announced. Legislation to extend the deadline in light of pandemic-related delays has stalled in the Senate, NPR reported.

Federal law requires the bureau to send population totals to the president by December 31 of every census year. However, the pandemic forced census officials in April to rewrite that timeline, pushing delivery of population totals to April 2021. The House approved the new deadline in May, but the Republican-controlled Senate has not followed suit.

The impact of COVID

The shift to distance learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak forced students living both on- and off-campus to return home, complicating this year's Census operations. Bureau representatives have been reaching out to campuses over the last few months to verify and collect certain directory information on students in group living quarters, including college residence halls, as well as students living in non-college/university-owned housing. Low response rates this year could exacerbate undercounting of college students, an historically hard-to-count population. 

Institutions' responsibility

The 2020 Census count is critical for determining representation and the allocations of federally funded programs, including those in higher education.

As such, AACRAO strongly urges all of our members to work with the Census Bureau to provide them with the particular directory information items it is seeking on students: name, address, and date of birth. *Note: directory information must be limited to information that is not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy and cannot include items such as social security numbers, race, gender, or ethnicity.

Institutions have until August 7 to submit this information electronically and until August 26 to submit the information in paper format to the Census Bureau for students that would have been living in college/university-owned student housing (on and off-campus) on April 1 prior to the pandemic outbreak. Meanwhile, the deadline for off-campus non-college/university-owned student housing records is August 14. 

For additional guidance, information, webinars, and resources on what information institutions may provide as directory information, visit AACRAO's 2020 Census & Student Privacy webpage.

Please reach out to the Census Bureau at dcmd.group.quarters.eresponse@census.gov for assistance with providing data for on campus student housing. For help with submitting your off campus file, please contact the Census Bureau at geo.SWIM@census.gov.