Cornell urges students to make sure they are counted in census

In mid-March homes across the country began receiving information about completing the 2020 U.S. census. Cornell administrators are reminding everyone in the university community – particularly students living off campus – how important it is to be counted.

The 2020 census helps determine congressional representation and provides important data that determines the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding to communities for support of programs that affect housing, education, transportation, health care and public policy.

“With approximately 24,000 students – approximately 17,000 off campus – and 7,500 employees and their families living in Tompkins County, getting the Cornell community counted in the 2020 census is a high priority for us all,” said Kate Supron, campus-community liaison in Cornell’s Office of Community Relations.

The census asks people to respond based on where they lived on April 1. Even though most students returned home this spring far earlier than planned due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, students are still considered residents of the place where they live while attending school and should be counted at their on- or off-campus residence, rather than at their permanent home addresses.

The university reminds students that if they lived on campus this academic year, they will be counted through the “group quarters” process for the census and, therefore, do not need to respond individually or be counted at their permanent home address.

Students living off campus in a residence not owned or managed by Cornell can respond online at; they should submit only one response per residence, and include everyone living at that address.

Cornell also is asking students to remind their parents not to include them on their census responses.

The need for an accurate count is a shared town-gown priority, Supron said. Historically, the response rate for off-campus students in the census tally has been low, making the university’s ongoing outreach efforts to students that much more crucial.

The university held a Census Day Awareness event April 1. Numerous Cornell units, along with Ithaca College and the U.S. Census Bureau, collaborated on messaging and connecting with larger efforts specifically targeting the student population, such as the #CountUsIn Ivy League 2020 Census Challenge. Campus units and groups participating included the Public Service Center, the Student Assembly, Off Campus Living and Cornell Votes, a universitywide nonpartisan campaign to increase voter registration, turnout and civic engagement on campus.

For additional information, visit Cornell’s 2020 Census or watch this video update from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Abby Butler