With most people home, you might think it's easier than ever to log on to Census.gov, but, as New York Regional Director for the U.S. Census Bureau Jeff Behler explains, it is not. That's because there is a population that is not at home: college students.

What You Need To Know

  • College students need to fill out their own census information
  • Use what would have been your residency on April 1
  • Erie and Niagara Counties are at around 65 percent rate as of May 23

"We have to make sure they get counted where they usually stay, at that off-campus apartment," Behler says.  

Behler explains when the census information was sent out in April, many students were already back home finishing the year virtually. So they either don't have their census ID, or maybe their parents counted them in theirs. This, Behler explains, could lead to some inaccurate counts. So, here's what to do.

"Online, you can just click the link that you don't have your census ID, and an address will pop up,” Behler explains. "We want students to enter the address they would be at off-campus and, to the best of their ability, put who else would be living with you. That is the only way we can get a complete and accurate count."

Take the University at Buffalo, for example. Their student body is represented by 45 states and 101 countries. That total student body is 31,503, with a majority of those students living off campus. Assuming they all live in Erie County during the school year, multiply that by the $2,600 county officials say is lost for each resident not counted, and you get $63 million. That's not what the county is projected to lose over the next decade, but you get the idea of why the count is, as Behler says, critical.

"This is not only going to be the basis of hundreds of millions of dollars, but representative, when you think about the seats the New York has in the U.S. House of Representatives," Behler said. "We are at stake of losing seats if we don't get a complete and accurate count."

Behler says if you counted your student, that's OK, but you should still have your student fill out their own census form, and redundancies will be fixed.  

Keep in mind that the bureau never asks for money, your Social Security number, bank account, credit cards, or for anything on behalf of a political party.