Parents and Families


It’s not as flashy as the Olympics or elections, but there’s an event that only happens every few years, and it has arguably as big an effect: the Census. Mandated by the Constitution of the United States of America, the Census happens once every ten years and counts every living person living in the U.S. It’s been happening, on schedule, since 1790 and it’ll be starting very soon on campus, too. It’s an important process that involves your student.
The questionnaire itself is short: just seven questions, and all the answers are confidential. But the information from these questions is incredibly powerful in determining how federal funds are used, and it’s the way representation in the U.S. Congress is figured out.
So what’s new this year and how does it all work?
Most importantly, your student is counted based on where they are living when they take the census. So, if your family lives in Georgia but your student is here in Ann Arbor on April 1, 2020 (Census Day), then they should count themselves as right here in Ann Arbor. 
And for 2020, it’s easier than ever to be counted. Your student can:

  • Do it right from their mobile phone 
  • From a computer at
  • Wait for a Census taker to drop by your student’s off-campus house
  • Respond to an invitation mailed to you.

They can also answer by phone. There’s really no wrong way to be counted. Just be counted. And of course, since everyone gets counted… get ready to participate yourself!
Why does it matter?
The Census provides data to inform how more than $675 billion in federal funds is spent annually to support resources such as schools, hospitals and fire departments. The results also are used to determine how many representatives each state has in Congress and inform the redrawing of congressional district boundaries.

Who is counted?
Everyone living in the U.S. on April 1, 2020 regardless of citizenship. All students, including international students, are encouraged to participate.

How does a student participate if they live in a residence hall?
If your student lives on-campus, there’s nothing they have to do. How easy is that? They will be automatically counted.
What if they live OFF campus?
Your student doesn’t need an invitation to be counted. They can:

  • Do it right from their phone (details coming soon!)
  • From a computer at
  • Wait for a Census taker to drop by their off-campus house
  • Respond to a mailed invitation

What if they live in a fraternity or sorority?
The Census will coordinate a point person in their house to handle all the counting.

Do they get counted based on where they live here, or their permanent address back home?
The Census is counted based on where your student lives at the time they answer the Census. So, if they are enrolled for Winter Term, then here.
What if their family counts them back home?
No worries. The Census will cross-reference and remove any duplicates. Your student will get counted just once.
What happens to their answers?
Personal information is kept confidential. Federal law protects your students’ information, and data are used only for statistical purposes.
What will they be asked?
The Census includes seven questions on participant demographics.
Have additional questions? Visit