You Count! The 2020 Census

Happy census day! Just like Duke Libraries, the census is for everyone. Our primer below will help make sure you are included in the 2020 census. For more information, you can go to the official census website.

Census Overview

  • What is the census?
    • A count of all people living in the United States as well as 2 commonwealths (Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas Islands) and 3 territories (Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
  • When does it happen?
      • Every 10 years since 1790, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 2.
  • Why is it important?
      • Determines the allocation of over $800 billion for essential programs in
        • Education
        • Healthcare
        • Infrastructure
        • Employment and Training
      • Decides the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives
      • Used to draw congressional and state legislative districts
  • What questions are on the census?
      • The Census Bureau has posted a slideshow of all questions asked on the 2020 census and why they are asking them.
  • Is my information private?
      • The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential. 
      • The answers you provide are used only to produce aggregate statistics; you are kept anonymous.
  • Do I have to participate in the census?
      • Yes, residents of the United States are legally required to be counted
  • How can I complete the census?

College Students, the census, and COVID-19

  • Do I need to complete the census?
    • If you normally live on campus, no. There is a designated “residence administrator” who will submit the questionnaire directly to the Census Bureau.
    • If you live off campus, yes.
  • I live off campus but am currently living elsewhere because of COVID-19. Where do I count?
    • You count at the place you live and sleep most of the time. Even if you are currently at home because of COVID-19, you need to complete the census for your off-campus living quarters.
  • I can’t access my mail. How do I complete the census? 
    • You can complete the census online or by phone. There is an online option to enter your address if you don’t have the Census ID that is included on mailed materials.

Remember, you count!

For more information on the census visit