2020 Census

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Counting College Students

Many Pennsylvania colleges and universities are extending spring break schedules or moving to online classes for the remainder of the school year. Students and families have questions about whether college students should be counted at their school address or at their family’s home.

Count Students at Their Usual Residence

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, students are counted at their “usual residence” or where they live and sleep “most of the time.” This means that college students are counted at their college address, either on- or off-campus. They should only be counted at their family’s home if they are living and sleeping there most of the time.

These rules still apply even if students are not on or near campus on April 1, 2020 due to COVID-19-related guidance from the school or public health authorities.

Rules Apply During Break or Vacation

The U.S. Census Bureau provides detailed information on the residence criteria governing college students in section C.10.a-f of the census rules.

College students and their families should follow the guidance below. These rules still apply even if students are staying in their family’s home “while on break or vacation.”

If a student usually lives:

  • On-campus, they are counted at their dorm address
  • Off-campus, they are counted at the address where they live
  • With family, they are counted at their family’s home
  • Studying abroad, they are not counted in the census
  • Foreign-citizen living and attending college in the U.S., they are counted at their on- or off-campus housing

Guidance for Colleges & Universities

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, operations for counting students in on-campus housing will continue based on the method a college or university determined during the Group Quarters Advance Contact outreach.

However, the U.S. Census Bureau is reaching out to any colleges or universities that opted for a Group Quarters enumeration method that was not a data transfer option. These colleges and universities will be asked if they would like to change their reporting method based on current circumstances.

Any questions about Group Quarters enumerations in Pennsylvania should be directed to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Philadelphia Regional Office.