Everyone counts at Penn State. 

Learn more about the 2020 Census and how to be counted. 

The 2020 Census is a count of every individual living in the country of the United States of America, as of April 1, 2020. This year’s census will be the 24th since the nation’s founding. This year’s installment will be the first to allow individuals to respond by phone or online.
Specific information about the steps Penn State will take to support students who live on campus in taking the census will be provided as the national count approaches. 
Census Day: April 1, 2020
While many individuals are unclear about why a census is important, counting the country’s population has broad importance, both politically and economically. By the time April Fool’s Day, 2020, rolls around, everyone should have received a request to submit their census information. Participation is required by law.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the census? 

The census is conducted once a decade. It provides the basis for reapportioning Congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing billions of dollars in federal funding to support your state, county, and community’s vital programs.

More information about the census can be found here: https://www.census.gov/library/video/2019/2020-census-what-is-the-census.html


Who should complete the 2020 Census? 

Every single person living in the United States should be counted at the place where they reside for the majority of the year. This means most students should complete the census for their address at Penn State. This includes international students and students temporarily studying in the United States. You should fill out the Census based on where you live on April 1, 2020.

For more information on who is counted, visit: https://2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html


What if I am no longer living at school due to the campus being temporarily closed in relation to COVID-19?

If you normally live in an off-campus apartment or house but a currently at your parent’s home or another home due to the pandemic, you should still respond using your college address, and not be included in their parent’s response. If you normally live in on-campus housing, Penn State will still send your information to the Census, you do not need to complete it.


What if I didn’t get my invitation in the mail and/or I do not know my Census ID?

You can still take the Census, even if you did not receive the invitation that was mailed to your College address. On the login page at my202Census.gov, click on the link that states: “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.”


The Census form asks where I live on April 1st. What address should I use?

You should use your college address, even if you are currently living with your parents due to COVID-19. The Census requires you use the address where you live most of the year, which is typically your college address.


What if I live on campus? 

Students who live in on-campus housing, including on-campus apartments, owned by the University do not need to fill out the Census form. Penn State will supply information for all students living on campus as of April 1, 2020.

Penn State will supply student directory information to the Census, which is information that is considered public information under Penn State Policy AD11. If a student has made a request for their information not to be made public through the process outlined in Policy AD11 that student’s information will not be sent to the Census.

Penn State will not send demographic information (gender, race, origin) on individual students to the Census. 


What if I live off campus? 

All students that live in an apartment or other off-campus housing must fill out a Census form. Every member of the household (this means all roommates) should be counted. If students choose to use the paper form mailed to their apartment, all roommates should complete the form together. Students can also choose to fill out the online form individually.


What if I live in a fraternity or sorority house off campus? 

Off-campus fraternity/sorority houses in the State College Borough will be counted as group quarters. This means students do not need to respond to the Census individually. The State College Borough and the Census will contact these residencies to facilitate the collection of information of all residents on time.  


Can my parents complete the Census for me? 

No. Unless you currently live with your parents full-time, while attending school, your parents should not include you on their Census form. Individuals must fill out the Census at the address where they live most of the year. This will most likely be your school address. 


I am an international student. Should I fill out the census? 

Yes. All people living in the United States, regardless of their country of origin should fill out the Census. If you are living in the U.S. on April 1, 2020. You will need to complete the Census.

For more information on who is counted, visit: https://2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html


I am not a U.S. Citizen. Should I fill out the Census? 

Yes. The Census counts the number of people living in the U.S., which includes citizens and non-citizens. Keep in mind, the Census will not ask for your citizenship status.


I am studying outside the U.S. Should I fill out the Census? 

No. If you are living outside the country, even temporarily, on April 1, 2020, you will not complete the Census.

College students who are studying abroad at the time of the census are usually not counted. However, many students have come home early due to COVID-19. Any students who have returned to the U.S. by April 1, 2020, can be counted at the place considered their usual residence, which often is their parents’ home.

For more information on who is counted, visit: https://2020census.gov/en/who-to-count.html


Why do I need to complete the Census? 

The census involves distributing $675 billion in federal funds, reapportioning congressional seats, and impacts housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and more.

More information on the impact of the census can be found here:  https://www.census.gov/library/fact-sheets/2019/dec/census101.html


How do I complete the Census? 

In mid-March, households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census. By April 1, 2020, every home will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. You will have three options for responding:

  • Online. 
  • By phone. 
  • By mail. 

More information on how to take the census can be found here:  https://www.census.gov/library/video/2019/2020-census-psa-how-do-i-take-the-2020-census.html


Is my data safe? 

Yes. Federal law protects your census responses. Your answers can only be used to produce statistics.

Read more about the 2020 Census and Confidentiality here:  https://www.census.gov/library/fact-sheets/2019/dec/2020-confidentiality.html


How can I be sure I’m not scammed? 

Keep in mind, the Census will NOT ask for your citizenship status, social security number, bank account information, or credit card number. 


Can I complete the Census in a language other than English? 

While paper forms are only available in English and Spanish, you can respond online or by phone in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The Census Bureau also provides video and printed guides in 59 non-English languages.


I have a hearing or vision impairment. Is the Census form accessible? 

The online questionnaire is accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. If you have blindness or low vision, you can print a guide to the questionnaire in braille or large print. If you are deaf or have hearing loss, you can respond using telephone devices for the hearing impaired and can access video guides to the questionnaire in American Sign Language. These resources can be found on 2020Census.gov.


Helpful Links

  • https://www.2020census.gov/ 
  • https://pennsylvaniacounts2020.info/ 
  • https://engagestatecollege.us.engagementhq.com/2020-census-you