While the coronavirus pandemic has changed lots about how we live, one thing it doesn’t affect is how Terps should fill out the 2020 Census.

While the census aims to count where people reside on April 1, anyone sheltering at a different address should still be counted where they live and sleep most of the time. For college students, that means their university or off-campus housing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“There is a sense of urgency to ensure that our population gets counted so we can receive appropriate resources to handle food insecurity, mental health issues and vaccination,” said Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, UMD’s director of community engagement. “This is a huge contribution to our community during this unprecedented moment in history.”

Students who lived on-campus in official university housing (residence halls, university-owned fraternity and sorority houses, Courtyards and South Campus Commons apartments) will still be counted in a process facilitated by university officials. Anyone who lives in off-campus housing will need to be counted separately for those addresses.

Data from the 2020 Census influences congressional representation and the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds for states and communities each year. Those programs include federal Pell Grants, student wellness programs and community mental health services. While 73% of Prince George’s County overall was counted in 2010, less than 50% of residents in the census tract including UMD’s campus completed a form.

“It’s vital that we get a complete census count of our residents, including students,” said Rya Griffis, community outreach coordinator for the city of College Park. “Having a complete count absolutely helps situations such as the one we are in, by ensuring our community gets the resources it needs for the next 10 years.”

Households began to receive printed letters in mid-March with instructions on filling out the census online at https://my2020census.gov. The census encourages one form per household, although it will count separate forms that have the same address. It does not ask about citizenship or for information pertaining to Social Security numbers, credit cards or political party, and census data cannot be accessed by law enforcement agencies.

While census workers will eventually visit nonresponsive households, the U.S. Census has suspended field operations until at least April 15.