When the COVID-19 pandemic began this spring, many Tennessee universities transitioned to online learning and many students elected to move home to complete the semester.
Unfortunately, students living in off-campus private housing and apartments were sent invitations to participate in the 2020 Census around that same time and most likely didn’t see it. But that doesn’t change where the students are counted in the Census.
Sagging response rates from popular off-campus housing areas are forcing the Census Bureau to rethink how it collects this information in 2020. Response rates from neighborhoods surrounding the University of Tennessee in Knoxville highlight the challenge of both contacting student households about the need to complete the Census and obtaining their response. Between 26.1% to 41.8% of households in this heavily student-populated area have responded. This compares to Knoxville’s 59.1% overall response rate.
Student areas around the University of Tennessee Campus have 2020 Census response rates that are measurably lower than surrounding areas.
Because off-campus students can represent a sizable portion of a community’s population, their inclusion in the Census is important to state and local funding, political representation, and planning.
That’s why the U.S. Census Bureau is now asking that colleges and universities provide this information on the students’ behalf. The full request includes:
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- Local Address (address where student lives/stays off campus when attending the school)
- Alternate Address (address where student lives/stays when not at the college/university local address, which could be their parents address
Colleges and universities may be able to provide all or some portion of that data in accordance their Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy regarding the disclosure of the student directory information. Read more about FERPA guidelines this previous post, and email FERPA@ed.gov with any questions about this permitted disclosure.
The Census Bureau is required by law to protect this information (Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9) and is not permitted to publicly release responses in a way that could identify anyone. By law, the Census Bureau can only use responses to produce statistics.
If you work at a college or university and are able to assist or have questions about the request, please contact the Philadelphia Regional Census Center by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 267-780-2550.
Files should be submitted by July 10, 2020.