Counting college students crucial for communities

Deborah Wilber

College students are one of the hardest populations to count in the U.S. Census, according to Evan Curtis, state planning coordinator at the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

Accurate census statistics from college students are more challenging to collect. Students living in on-campus residences such as dorms fall under a special category. (Photo courtesy of WSU)

That difficulty comes from students who are not counted while studying abroad, students living off-campus that rely on landlords to fill out the questionnaire and students unaware the Census should be taken where they currently reside for school, according to Coralys M. Ruiz Jiménez, a Utah media specialist at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau has set a goal for students to be more accurately counted in the 2020 Census.

Students residing at Wildcat Village, University Village and Harrison Heights will be counted as part of the 2020 Census Group Quarters Enumeration operation. The GQ Enumeration operation is a population count of people living or staying in group quarters including group homes, nursing facilities and student housing.

There are data collection options for GQ Enumeration ranging from Electronic Response Data Transfer (eResponse), In-Person Interviews, Drop Off/Pick Up of Questionnaire and Paper Response Data Collection. According to Connie Frazier, the director of Housing and Residence Life at WSU, rosters will be used to count students living in WSU residence halls.

College students play a vital role in how much federal funding their communities will receive over the next 10 years. This will provide funding for new roads, healthcare facilities, businesses and schools.

It is unknown how many college students go uncounted in the U.S. Census, but WSU faculty with the Census Complete Count Committee are preparing to educate WSU students on what the U.S. Census is and why it’s important.

In the next few weeks, students can expect to see signage regarding the U.S. Census and recruitment tables in Shepherd Union.