Count Yourself In
As Census 2020 Letters Hit Mailboxes, UMD, Government Officials Urge Participation
For the first time in a decade, it’s time for College Park to stand up and be counted.
The 2020 Census kicks off this week to accurately count how many people live in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. Mandated to take place every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution, the count is used in everything from government funding formulas to business relocation decisions.
“If we’re undercounted, you’re not going to receive the resources needed to deliver services,” said Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, UMD’s director of community engagement. “It’s not just about money, it’s about representation.”
College campuses present some unique questions: What if you live in a dorm? What if you commute? What if you are an international student? Here are some answers to help College Park get counted correctly.
Why is the census important?
- The census is used to determine legislative districts and the number of seats per state in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, the data influences the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds for roads, schools, hospitals, Medicaid and other programs.
- Each uncounted resident results in an estimated loss of $18,250 in federal funding over the ensuing decade. 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 mailed back a form.
How will it work?
- Households will start to receive printed letters this week with instructions on filling out the census online at https://my2020census.gov. It can also be completed by phone and mail.
- The census wants to know where you will reside on April 1—not where you live during semester breaks or over the summer. So students who live on-campus in official university housing (residence halls, university-owned fraternity and sorority houses, Courtyards and Commons apartments) will be counted in a process facilitated by university officials. Anyone who lives in off-campus housing will need to be counted separately.
- The census encourages one form per household, although it will count separate forms that have the same address.
- The census will not ask about citizenship or information pertaining to Social Security numbers, credit cards or political party. Census data cannot be accessed by law enforcement agencies.
- Reminders will be sent to households that do not respond by April 1, and census workers will visit those addresses from late April through early July.