Academic Libraries

The Census Bureau announces adjusting operations to make sure college students are counted. View the Census press release to get information on how college students will be counted during the 2020 Census and how the COVID-19 pandemic affects the count.

How do college students get counted?

Students living on- and off- campus are often undercounted and hard to count populations. Students are counted where they reside on April 1, 2020 AND spend most of their time, which means that the majority of students will be counted in their college community.

    • In student housing, off campus or with parents, college students count in the 2020 Census... But where is home for college students?
    • The parent or guardian at non-college address should not count the student on their Census form. Students should be counted at the address where they live “most of the time.” Refer to the 2020 Census Residency Rules and Criteria publication for more information.
    • International students attending college in the U.S. should also fill out a Census form listing their college address. Refer to the 2020 Census Residency Rules and Criteria publication for information.


View the Toolkit for Higher Education.

The 2020 Census count is critical for higher education. See the tip sheet on Reaching College Students.

Anyone who is not sure how they will be counted will be able to call Census Questionnaire Assistance for more information.


Census 2020 is an opportunity for student learning.

  • This is a civic duty, like voting. It is an opportunity for students to gain the tools and knowledge to engage with their government and community.
  • Develop educational exercises and resources for use in classes. View example of Census-related curricular materials.
  • Engage students and let them lead! It gives them a chance to practice civic skills and they know the best ways to communicate with peers.

Possible activities:

  • Set up designated computers for completion of Census form
  • Information table in student union and/or library
  • Host a panel discussion
  • Encourage participation in local complete count committee

See more campus engagement ideas.


The 2020 Census is also an employment opportunity for students.

The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people across the country to assist with the 2020 Census count. These positions provide the perfect opportunity to earn some extra income while helping their community. They are hiring for a variety of temporary jobs, including census takers, recruiting assistants, office staff, and supervisory staff.

Encourage students to find work with the 2020 Census. Provide the U.S. Census Bureau with a table at career fairs and job fairs on campus.

View job details and apply at

The Census Bureau Wants You to Know...

This short video, Census Help, from ODL’s Census Solutions workshop features Haley Ashcom explaining what libraries can and cannot do to help patrons and students complete their questionnaire.

Paper forms – New information shows that libraries will not have paper copies of the questionnaire to distribute.  People who prefer to answer via paper (and who do not get one in the mail) will be able to call and request one.  The number will be included on all mailing materials and Census 2020 websites. It is good to remember that, in addition to offering online access to the questionnaire, we should also be offering phone and paper options when that works best for someone.

Counting people in Group quarters – The Census Bureau uses a different method to count people in group living situations, called “group quarters,” such as college student housing, prisons, military barracks, and nursing homes. In some of those cases, the facility administrator will work with local 2020 Census office staff to collect the information for the people residing there; those individuals will not respond directly to the Census Bureau.

Going to where the people are — Census employees in your area provide an extra layer of protection for everyone who participates in the Census. They have taken an oath that comes with heavy consequences for disclosure. Whenever possible, invite Census partnership specialists in your community to sit with you at library booths at any events or meetings to help answer questions. Under no circumstances should you send library staff or library volunteers door to door.

Share "Rock the Vote"

Rock the Vote has launched an educational awareness campaign geared towards young people on the importance of the Census. The campaign kicked off a promotional video that seeks to help young people understand the importance of the Census.

Learn More