Census: Students Should Use College Address, Even If Staying With Parents During COVID-19

The official U.S. Census can be completed online for the first time.
By Lesley Henton, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications April 6, 2020

u.s. census materials
The U.S. Census can be completed online for the first time this year.

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The 2020 U.S. Census is underway and officials at Texas A&M University are encouraging all Aggies, at all Texas A&M University locations, across Texas to participate. Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, students are advised to use the address where they would have resided under normal circumstances when school is in session, as opposed to wherever they may be staying at this time.

The constitutionally mandated census determines population statistics every 10 years for each county across America. The data helps to direct considerable public investment in public health, transportation, education and community enhancement.

Participation in the census is mandatory. For the first time in history, it can be completed online*. Mailing of notices began in mid-March with information on how to complete the census online, by phone or mail.

The U.S. Census Bureau has stated that even if college students are temporarily living with their parents, other relatives or friends due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they should still list the address where they live while attending college.

Listing Your College Address

Responding to the census where university faculty, staff and students reside during the academic calendar is often confusing, said Dudley Poston, a Texas A&M professor of sociology and an expert in demography.

“Since most college students attend college away from their family homes and live on or near their campuses, this means that most college students are not counted at their parents’ homes,” he said. “Students are counted at their parents’ homes only if they live there and sleep there most of the year.”

Roommate Check-in

Chad Wootton, Texas A&M associate vice president for external affairs, said since many Aggies are not currently living at their college address due to COVID-19, they are encouraged to connect with their roommates to determine a “household leader” who will complete the survey for their residence.

“We see this as an opportunity for Aggies to selflessly serve our community by completing the census,” he said. “It’s also a chance to do a ‘spirit check-in’ with their roommates to see how they’re doing, and provide emotional support to one another during this challenging time.”

Texas A&M’s Public Partnership & Outreach and the Division of Student Affairs have been in contact with Census Bureau personnel for many months coordinating communication and community “complete count” efforts.

A webpage with direct information for completing the online response is available from Texas A&M Public Partnership & Outreach*.

Off-campus vs. On-campus Housing

If students live in off-campus housing that is not owned, leased or managed by Texas A&M, such as a private house or apartment, they should work with their roommates to appropriately respond to the online census survey at that off-campus address, according to the Census Bureau.

For students who live on-campus in “group quarters” such as residence halls, apartment partnerships (like Park West or White Creek) or Greek Life houses, Census Bureau employees will work with Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs to ensure that everyone is counted.

Parents and guardians should not count their students in their household survey if under normal circumstances those students would have been residing at their university.

The rules above also apply to international students attending Texas A&M and residing in our communities.

Why Is The Census Important?

The data gathered through the census every 10 years helps to allocate representation in federal and state governments and help states draw district lines. The data are also the basis for the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding to states and counties, funds for schools, hospitals, roads and other federal programs. Governments use the data for public safety and to build the proper infrastructure for their populations. And business owners can use the data to learn more about their community and offer the products and services most needed in an area.

“So for Texas A&M, regardless if our students are normally studying, be it Bryan, College Station, Dallas, Galveston, Ft. Worth, Kingsville, McAllen or Round Rock, we all share a responsibility to be counted in the census and help improve our communities. It’s vital to have the roads, emergency services and infrastructure to support their residents, both temporary and permanent,” Wootton said.

For more information about the census, visit Texas A&M Public Partnership & Outreach* or email questions to


* This link is no longer active and has been removed.

Media contact: Chad Wootton,

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