Census 2020

Census Overview

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, our nation gets just one chance each decade to count its population. Let’s make this year count! The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years.

The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment) and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

The census is important, easy, safe and required.

When will the 2020 census start?
Census day is April 1, 2020. Data collection begins in March 2020 and continues through September 30, 2020. Households will receive a postcard with instructions for completing the census beginning in March 2020.

Who should respond to the census?
Everyone! Census postcards are sent to all households in the U.S. to collect information about each person living in the household. The Census Bureau is conducting special counts for populations living in group quarters or who are unsheltered. These include: Homeless populations, university students, prison populations and other people living in institutional settings. For more on counting college students, see below.

How can people complete the census?
The Census Bureau is collecting census forms in four ways:

  • Online, using a cellphone or internet
  • Telephone, by calling the census call center
  • Paper form
  • Census enumerator

Census forms are available in 13 languages.

What questions will be answered?
There are 10 questions that take about 10 minutes per person to complete.

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Hispanic Origin
  • Race
  • Relationship to householder
  • Household tenure (own/rent)
  • Number of persons in the household
  • Does a person usually stay or live somewhere else?


Counting college students

The Census Bureau is adjusting operations to make sure college students are counted. Read the March 15, 2020 guidance here.

Where students should be counted depends on where they are living on Census Day, April 1, 2020.

  • College students living in a dorm or an apartment owned by their college will be counted at their college, through Group Quarters Enumeration.
  • College students living at home will be counted on their parents’ census form.
  • College students living off-campus, but not at their parent’s home, will receive an invitation to complete the census.


Collecting data on group quarters residents
Students living in group quarters do not complete census forms; rather, the administrators of a facility submit census forms for the facility.

Get involved on your campus

There are lots of ways that you can spread the word about the census to your college or university. Here are several:

  • Ask your governing board or trustees to sign a resolution in support of the 2020 census
  • Ask your president or leadership to film a short video to share on social media
  • Update your informational screens around campus with an informational slide on the census
  • Create flyers for bathroom stalls in the student union or other student spaces
  • Update your website with information on the census
  • Celebrate Census Day on April 1, with events/information around campus


For additional resources, visit Colorado Census 2020.

For questions about higher education and the 2020 census, contact Megan McDermott, 303-974-2495.