Quick Take: AACRAO to host conversation with Education Department on 2020 Census and FERPA

February 10, 2020
  • Advocacy
  • census
  • Quick Takes
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Ahead of each Census, the U.S. Education Department offers guidance to colleges and universities on the applicability of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to the disclosure of student education record information to representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau. The department issued initial guidance to institutions of higher education on January 14, 2020 and updated guidance on January 29, 2020, causing some confusion over what demographic information campus officials may share with Census Bureau representatives.

The January 14 memo stated that school officials, if asked, may not disclose information about a student’s gender, Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin, and race, without prior written consent from the student. The updated January 29 memo clarifies that institutions may provide aggregate institution-level enrollment data disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity if that data is de-identified.

QuickTakes LogoAACRAO will host a call with Kala Suprenant, acting director of the Education Department’s Student Privacy Policy Office, as well as a representative from the Census Bureau, on Tuesday, February 18 at 2:30 p.m. (ET) to discuss the updated guidance and answer any additional questions universities may have regarding the 2020 Census and what information they should make available.

Register for the Quick Take.

The 2020 Census count is critical for determining representation and the allocations of federally funded programs, including those in higher education. Historically, certain groups of people have been disproportionately undercounted by the Census. The Census Bureau identifies all college students as a hard-to-count population because they are highly mobile, may live off-campus as renters, and often difficult to persuade to participate. Some college students are even harder to survey because of additional factors.

Bureau representatives have begun their outreach to campuses and will continue over the next few months to verify and collect information on students in group living quarters, including college residence halls.



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