Census 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the census important?

Representation: Every 10 years, ever resident is counted. This count determines representation in Congress and the drawing of districts for federal, state and local offices for the next 10 years.

Funding: The census count determines the allocation of $700 billion in federal funding to states and localities, including Title I money, the National School Lunch Program and special education grants, for the next 10 years.

Information: Data resulting from the census is used for planning and to allocate resources (e.g., cities use the count of infants to plan where to put schools, parks, libraries, etc.).


Who is counted?

Every person living in the United States—citizens, noncitizen legal residents, and undocumented immigrants—must be counted in the census.


When does the census happen?

In March 2020, households will be sent instructions for completing the census online.

In April 2020, households that have not completed the census online will be mailed a paper census form with instructions to submit by mail.

In May 2020, households without a completed census form will receive a home visit.


Is there a citizenship question on the census? Should noncitizens fill it out?

There is NOT a citizenship question on the census.

It is a federal crime to use any information obtained through a census form for anything other than an accurate count. Census takers cannot ask for money, Social Security numbers or financial information of any kind.

It is required by law that every household complete a census form, including noncitizens.


How can I help my community be counted?

Share about the importance of the census for government funding and representation. Incorporate the census into your curriculum, including using the AFT’s Share My Lesson materials and the Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools materials.

Explain that it is safe and required for every household to complete the census form.

Connect with a local Complete Count Committee; these are community partnerships working to ensure accurate census counts.

Post census posters at your work site, include information about the census in school or classroom newsletters, and have fliers available for families in lobbies and classrooms.

Offer school computers for families and community members to use to complete the census.


Should I worry about how the U.S. government will use information about me?

The Census Bureau is required by federal law to protect your information, and your data is used only for statistical purposes.

Your responses are compiled with information from other homes to produce statistics, which never identify your home or any person in your home.
It is illegal for the Census data to be used for any nonstatistical purposes, such as immigration regulation or other law enforcement.