Credit: Carolyne Sysmans | Mustang News

Each household in the United States is required by law to complete the census every 10 years to ensure accurate allocations of federal funding and fair congressional representation. 

All Cal Poly students residing off-campus should complete the census for their San Luis Obispo address regardless of temporary location changes due to coronavirus, according to an email from Associated Students, Inc. (ASI). Students living on-campus have already been accounted for by University Housing and do not need to complete the census, the email read.

Unless permanently residing with their parents or guardians while attending school, students should not be counted on their family’s census.

Students can complete the census online in about 15 minutes.

The U.S. Census Bureau designated April 1 as Census Day, but there is no hard deadline to complete the census. The Bureau is considering postponing the deadline to complete the 2020 census by at least 120 days, making October 31, 2020 the new tentative deadline to take the census.

In order to gain funding, each county needs to have an accurate representation of its community members, ASI President Mark Borges said. With Cal Poly students making up nearly half of the population of the city of San Luis Obispo, Borges said it is important that students complete the 2020 census. 

“Getting students to realize the significance of what this money is going towards is so important from a community perspective,” Borges said.

By completing the U.S. Census Bureau’s questionnaire for San Luis Obispo, resources and funding will be benefiting students both directly and indirectly in the coming years, he said.

“The census allocates federal funds towards mental health resources in the community, school districts and public safety,” Borges said. “Since students are members of the community, it definitely affects how they enjoy the San Luis Obispo area.” 

According to the Chair of the ASI External Affairs Committee Kylie Clark, each person who completes the census makes an impact.

“What it comes down to is that $2,000 per person who fills out the census per year is allotted to where they filled it out for the next ten years,” Clark was told by a government employed census representative. “By filling it out, one person is guaranteeing San Luis Obispo an extra $20,000.”

While students may be inclined to complete the census for the place they expect to live after they graduate from Cal Poly, Clark said that doing so would cause a severe lack of funding for San Luis Obispo and for each incoming student over the next 10 years.

Clark added that the census does not ask about citizenship status, and all of the information recorded is strictly protected. That means that students living in houses with more tenants than are allowed on the lease, or those without documented citizenship, cannot have their census information used against them, she said. 

Plus, being counted in the census every 10 years is legally mandatory under Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

Each household is asked to count all residents on a single form, allowing one person to complete the census on behalf of others in the house.

All households should have received an invitation to complete the census, and may have also received the physical questionnaire form. The census may be completed using the invitation’s personalized census ID by mail, online or by phone. The census may also be completed online or by phone without a census ID.

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