2020 Census FAQ

Every ten years, the United States conducts a census to accurately capture the population living in the United States.  2020 is a census year so the U.S. Census Bureau will be conducting a census in the coming months. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below for answers to many common questions about the U.S. Census process.  Don’t see an answer to your question in our FAQs? Check the 2020 U.S. Census website or contact OIS at OIS@ncsu.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I’m an international student, scholar, or dependent.  Am I required to participate in the 2020 Census?
Yes!  Everyone living in the United States needs to participate in the 2020 Census regardless of citizenship or immigration status.  It is required by law.  
More details can be found on the 2020 U.S. Census website
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What is the purpose of the U.S. Census? Why does it matter to me as an international student, scholar, or dependent?
When most people think of a census, they think of political representation but the data collected by the U.S. Census is used in many other ways that impact us every day.  Funding for things like roadways, schools, and other public works projects may be distributed based on census data. Businesses also use census data to determine new markets and where they may decide to build new stores and offices.
Impact in the Community
Importance of the Data

I live in an off-campus apartment or house.  How do I complete the census process?
All off-campus residences will receive a census form through the U.S. mail (check your mailbox!).  Initial forms were mailed in March and contain a 12-digit Census ID which you can use to complete the census online, over the phone, or you can return the census form through the mail.
Responding to the U.S. Census

I live in an on-campus residence hall or apartment.  How should I complete the census process?
Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, more information will be coming soon about how on-campus residents will participate in the 2020 Census process.  Thank you for your patience.

What should I do if I threw away the 2020 Census form before responding?
You may receive a duplicate census form in the mail but you can also respond online without the form by simply using your U.S. address.  Visit the online 2020 Census response page and indicate that you don’t have the 12-digit Census ID.  The form will guide you through the process to identify your address and then allow you to complete the census form questions.

What kinds of questions will the 2020 Census ask and how long will it take?
The 2020 U.S. Census website has a preview of the census questions posted on their website.  Please note that there is no citizenship or immigration status question included.    The Census is very short and should not take more than 10 minutes to complete.

There are several people living in my apartment.  Do we each have to complete the census form separately?
No.  The U.S. Census Bureau wants only one response per address.  When you respond to the 2020 Census online, over the phone, or through the mail, your response should also include the information for everyone currently living at your address as of April 1, 2020.  We recommend reviewing the census questions ahead of time so that you can collect the necessary information from your roommates before you respond.

I’m not currently in Raleigh because of the COVID-19 pandemic and have either returned home or I am staying at a relative or friend’s house somewhere in the United States.  What should I do?
The U.S. Census Bureau has a great video about that!  In short, if you normally live in Raleigh and would have lived in Raleigh as of April 1, 2020, you need to be counted in Raleigh.  You can view the U.S. Census Bureau video that addresses this situation specifically.

If you are not able to physically check your mailbox right now for the 2020 Census form and your 12-digit CENSUS ID, you should visit the online 2020 Census response page and indicate that you don’t have the 12-digit Census ID.  The form will guide you through the process to identify your address and then allow you to complete the census form questions.

I’m graduating this semester and may leave North Carolina or the United States.  What should I do?
April 1, 2020 is U.S. Census Day.  This means that you should be counted at the address where you were living as of April 1, 2020, even if you may move to a new apartment or move away from Raleigh later this year.

What happens if I (or one of my roommates) do not complete the U.S. Census form?
If an address does not have a recorded census response, the U.S. Census Bureau will send an official Census Taker to collect the necessary information in person.  Census Takers are scheduled to make in-person visits May 27, 2020 through August 14, 2020. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the timeline for when Census Takers make address visits may change.  Continue to check the 2020 Census website for an update on when Census Takers may visit your residence because of a non-response to the census.  To confirm that someone at your door is a Census Taker with the U.S. Census Bureau, they have provided identification details on their website.

I keep getting mail about the U.S. Census but my apartment/house already submitted our information.  Do I need to do something else?
No.  If you have completed the process and included information for everyone living in your home then you are done with the census process.  The U.S. Census Bureau has scheduled several mailings to remind people about their census obligation regardless of whether a response has been recorded for that address.

Avoid Census-related Scams and Fraud

Unfortunately, the U.S. Census process also provides an opportunity for scam callers to try new ways to steal money or personal information.

  • The US Census Bureau will not call demanding money for failure to participate in the U.S. Census.
  • They will not call you asking for additional personal identifying information (like a Social Security number) as part of the census process.

If you receive any suspicious phone calls claiming to be in response to the U.S. Census or claiming to be the U.S. Census Bureau, hang up and contact University Police immediately at 919-515-3000.  For more information and guidance, please visit the OIS webpage on avoiding scams as well as the U.S. Census Bureau webpage on avoiding fraud and scams during the census process.