The “where” really matters in U.S. Census tally


Every person counts, and when it comes to Michigan State University students, they need to count here. That includes undergraduates, international students, everybody.

Accurately accounting for students’ place of residence where they attend college is not just the law, but also a matter of vital public concern because it ensures that East Lansing, where most of our students live, receives its fair share of funding for public transportation and a host of other essential services used by our students, faculty, and staff.

In addition, the Census count affects the amount of federal funds allocated to educational grants, including the Pell Grant program. So it is especially important that students who attend MSU and live in the local community the majority of the year are counted here and not at their “permanent” address.

We’re not alone at MSU in working hard to ensure an accurate count –– other communities across the country are doing likewise.

The Census is a mandatory headcount for every resident in the United States, required by the Constitution to take place every 10 years. Forms for the 2010 Census already have begun to arrive at local residences. Students living in residence halls are being contacted by the university, in accordance with the law, so that they can be counted through a “group quarters” process.

The law requires that college students complete the Census form where they live the majority of the year and where they will reside on April 1, 2010. So it differs from registering to vote, for example, in which a student may choose whether to register in his or her university town or home community.

Students commuting from a residence where they live with a parent(s) or a guardian are the exception to being counted here. I’ve sent out a letter to students’ parents to explain these points, and we at MSU are working closely with the City of East Lansing to ensure that students and their parents understand the Census procedure.

All the information gathered on the Census form is confidential, of course. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities.

The Census Bureau estimates it should take no more than 10 minutes to fill out the forms. So students, this one really is for the money, and it’s the easiest quiz you’ll take all year!


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