Census FAQs

Every 10 years, the federal government conducts a population count of everyone in the United States. Data from the census provide the basis for distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to communities across the country to support vital programs—impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care, and public policy. They also are used to redraw the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts and accurately determine the number of congressional seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As a University student, this affects you directly via the ability to obtain student loans, Pell grants, access to University resources and campus infrastructure improvements along with health and social services available within the City of Bowling Green and surrounding areas. Additionally, the census determines the number of congressional seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s critical that all students are counted.

The next census takes place this year in 2020. Beginning in mid-March, people will receive a notice in the mail to complete the 2020 Census. Once you receive it, you can respond online. However, if you have yet to receive that formal notice, you can still log onto the Census 2020 website and follow these steps:

  • Select Start the Questionnaire
  • On log-in page, select “If you do not have a Census ID, please click here” and follow the prompts to register your residence.

With the novel coronavirus pandemic and Bowling Green State University’s proactive response to slow the spread by moving to an on-line learning environment for the remainder of the Spring semester, it can be confusing as to where and how BGSU students will be counted.

The Census Bureau maintains that where a University student lives for the majority of the 2019-2020 academic year is where they should still be counted. Students who live in the residence halls will be counted by the University as part of the “group quarters” category. Students who live off-campus (largely rental apartments or houses) are still responsible for filling out the census form.

With the novel coronavirus pandemic and Bowling Green State University’s proactive response to slow the spread by moving to an on-line learning environment for the remainder of the Spring semester, it can be confusing as to where and how BGSU students will be counted.

College and universities work with the Census Bureau to count people who live in group housing, such as residence halls and co-ops. The Census Bureau has a special operation called “Group Quarters” to count folks in dorms, nursing homes, and institutions. The Group Quarters operation involves the Census Bureau coordinating with a point person who runs the group housing.

The Census Bureau maintains that where a University student lives for the majority of the 2019-2020 academic year is where they should still be counted. Students who live in the residence halls will be counted by the University as part of the “group quarters” category.

The Census Bureau maintains that where a University student lives for the majority of the 2019-2020 academic year is where they should still be counted. For students living off-campus in rental apartments or houses, you should continue to fill out the census from where you reside most of this year.

If you live by yourself, it will be easy to fill out for just an individual. However, for many of you, there are other roommates you live with. Collectively you will need to designate someone to be the person responsible for filling out the census on behalf of the group.

While the Census Bureau is sending an official mailing to residential addresses with a unique 12-digit pin, you do not need the pin to fill out the census. Simply, log onto the Census 2020 website and follow these steps:

  • Select Start the Questionnaire
  • On log-in page, select “If you do not have a Census ID, please click here” and follow the prompts to register your residence.

Students who are foreign nationals and live in the U.S. are counted in the census. The goal of the census is to count all residents in the U.S. The  census form will be available online in 12 non-English languages and language guides will be made available in 59 non-English languages.

In 2020, for the first time ever, the U.S. Census Bureau will accept responses online (you can respond via computer, tablet, or mobile device), but you can still respond by phone or mail if you prefer. Responding should take less time than 10 minutes.

While the Census Bureau is sending an official mailing to residential addresses with a unique 12-digit pin, you do not need the pin to fill out the census. Simply, log onto the Census 2020 website and follow these steps:

  • Select Start the Questionnaire
  • On log-in page, select “If you do not have a Census ID, please click here” and follow the prompts to register your residence. 

Census 2020 will collect basic information about the people living in your household. When completing the census, you should count everyone who is living in your household on April 1, 2020.

The 2020 Census starts with “Person 1” who is the person who pays the rent or owns the home and then everyone is categorized according to how they are related to the reference person. If you share the rent, then just pick one person to fill it out for your home.  You will have the option to state you are ‘roommate or housemate.’

At the Census Bureau, the sex question is worded very specifically to capture a person’s biological sex and not their gender. For this question specifically, sex is based on the biological attributes of men and women (chromosomes, anatomy, hormones). The purpose of the question, per the Census Bureau, is to measure the sex composition of the population.

A university official will contact the students who will be impacted by the questions on race or ethnicity. If you are not contacted and believe that you should have been, please contact419-372-7100 or diversity@bgsu.edu

The Census Bureau will never ask for:

  •     Social Security numbers.
  •     Bank or credit card account numbers.
  •     Money or donations.
  •     Anything on behalf of a political party.

Strict federal law protects your census responses. It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census information that identifies an individual. Census Bureau employees take a lifelong pledge of confidentiality to handle data responsibly and keep respondents’ information private. The penalty for wrongful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both. No law enforcement agency (not the DHS, ICE, FBI, or CIA) can access or use your personal information at any time. Data collected can only be used for statistical purposes that help inform important decisions, including how much federal funding your community receives.
The Census Bureau has a robust cybersecurity program that incorporates industry best practices and federal security standards for encrypting data.

You can learn more about the 2020 Census by visiting the Census 2020 website.