Moves due to pandemic cause 2020 Census confusion over what is ‘home’

Amber Brockman, News Editor

Olivia lived in Horizon Hall until the dorms closed. Jack lived off campus, but didn’t want to live alone when UW Oshkosh went to all online classes, so he, too, moved back home. But with a father who is immunocompromised, Ethan decided to stay in his Oshkosh apartment to finish the semester.

It’s no wonder why people, and college students in particular, are confused about where they should count as home in the 2020 U.S. census.

Students who normally live in on-campus housing will still be counted in the 2020 census through their university, even if they are temporarily living somewhere else due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a U.S. Census Bureau press release.

Foreign students living and attending college in the United States should also be counted at the on- or off-campus residence where they live or sleep most of the time, even if they traveled home due to COVID-19.

In general, students should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time, even if they are temporarily staying somewhere else due to the pandemic.

In most cases, students living away from home while attending school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily staying somewhere else due to the pandemic.

If you live in student housing, your college will count you. If you live off campus, you should respond for the off-campus address and include any roommates or other people living there, but only one person should respond for each home.

If a student is counted both at home — where they would not normally be living — and at their college location, the Census Bureau has the ability to remove the duplicate entries.

For those who have inadvertently included their college student at home, there is no need to go back and re-submit the census, according to the bureau.

“Responding to the 2020 census is easy, safe and important,” the bureau said. “For the first time, you can choose to respond online, by phone or by mail.”

Respond to the census after you receive your invitation by going online at or calling 844-330-2020.

“Participation is essential to ensure that the state — and your community — maintain representation in Congress and gets its share of federal spending,” according to the bureau.

Responses to the 2020 census will shape decisions about how the $675 billion of annual federal funds flow into communities each year for the next 10 years for critical services. Health care, emergency response, schools/education programs and roads/bridges are all impacted by the 2020 census.

The census also determines how the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be apportioned throughout the country. For example, Wisconsin has nine House seats, but lost one following the 2000 census.

“Counting everyone living in a community helps community leaders plan for the future,” the bureau said. “Where there are more people, there are often greater needs.”

Currently, Wisconsin is ranked No. 2 at 55.2% self-response 2020 census completion, which is ahead of the national average, 48.6%. Oshkosh is ahead of the Wisconsin average at 58.3%; however, the area in the Algoma Boulevard vicinity is only at 39.4%.

“Everyone should be counted regardless of age, race, ethnic group, religion or citizenship,” the bureau said. “It’s important to your community, county, state and country for everyone who lives here to stand up to be counted, because it shapes your future.”