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2020 Census: We’re counting on you

February 3, 2020

When it comes to the 2020 Census, NIU is counting on Huskies to respond.


“If a student is living in a residence hall at NIU or in off-campus housing, that is where a student should be counted during the census,” said Sherrie Taylor, senior research specialist for NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies and interim lead of the State Data Center in Illinois. “We need to count everybody once -and only once – and in the right place.”

The 2020 Census is a snapshot of what takes place on April 1, 2020. Many services that Huskies use on a daily basis are funded in part through the federal government, and the allocations of those funds are based on the population.

Meg Junk, program director, NIU’s Division of Student Affairs, said taking time to complete the census is an important task for everyone.

“The census will impact how much financial aid assistance NIU receives and is able to offer for the next 10 years,” Junk said. “Illinois will lose roughly $1500 per person per year for every person who does not fill out the census.”

Taylor shared the sentiment.

“The census is only taken every 10 years; if we get an undercount we have to live with that number for the next 10 years,” Taylor said. “If you aren’t counted, money will not be allocated for you to receive funding for things like disability services, housing vouchers, tuition assistance, roadway improvements, capital building projects and technology enhancements.”

Where are students counted?
Students count where they reside on April 1. All students (on or off campus) are counted at their residence halls or apartments. When parents or guardians complete the census, they check the box that indicates they live at college and the Census Bureau reconciles the information.

All data is collected by household – not by relationship – so anyone living at the same address goes on the same 2020 Census form. Residents answer minimal questions and can respond by phone, online or via a paper-based form that needs to be mailed. The information collected is protected by the Census Bureau which is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep all data confidential and not share it with any administration or agency.

“The census is much more than just a count of our population,” Junk said. “It provides the basis for reapportioning congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs.”

Those federal funds impact things like housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy. Huskies need to be counted, and NIU is counting on them to take part in the 2020 Census.

Go to NIU’s 2020 Census website or visit to learn more.

The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code. These laws not only provide authority for the work they do, but also provide strong protection for the information they collect from individuals and businesses.
  • Private information is never published. It is against the law to disclose or publish any private information that identifies an individual or business such, including names, addresses (including GPS coordinates), Social Security Numbers, and telephone numbers.
  • The Census Bureau collects information to produce statistics. Personal information cannot be used against respondents by any government agency or court.
  • Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect confidentiality. People sworn to uphold Title 13 are legally required to maintain the confidentiality of your data. Every person with access to your data is sworn for life to protect your information and understands that the penalties for violating this law are applicable for a lifetime.
  • Violating the law is a serious federal crime. Anyone who violates this law will face severe penalties, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
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Census timeline

March 12–20 A letter invitation will arrive in the mail with instructions to respond online to the 2020 Census. ​
March 16–24 A reminder postcard sent regardless if you responded yet or not.​

If you haven’t responded yet:
March 26–April 3 A reminder postcard, again.​
April 8–16 A reminder letter and paper questionnaire to mail back.​
April 20–27 A final reminder postcard before a follow-up in person by a census employee (knock on the door).