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Tell us why the Census matters to you! Go to and enter code 21 69 93

The Census is conducted every ten years in the United States. Mandated under Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the Census provides data necessary to determine how people will be represented in state and federal government. The purpose of the Census is to get an understanding of the population within the United States. The framers of the Constitution also meant for the Census to provide a form of political empowerment of the people over government.

Why the Census Matters (in brief)

The number of residents in states determines congressional representation. The data gathered from the Census is used to redraw Congressional and state legislative districts, school districts, and voting precincts. Census data also guides decisions on how to distribute funding by the federal government. JMU students are counted in Harrisonburg. A complete count is important because it will guide decisions about our campus voting precinct, in addition to other decisions like bus routes in Harrisonburg and attracting businesses to the area. Faculty and students also use census data in research, so a complete count is important for using evidence and drawing accurate conclusions.

Quick Facts

  • This year is the first time the Census will be gathered online.
  • You are counted in the location you spend majority of your time. Even if you live with your guardians during holidays and breaks, you will be counted at JMU.
  • Students who live in residence halls are part of what the Census Bureau calls  “Group Quarters” (meaning your residence is owned or managed by an outside entity that provides housing and/or resources to residents). A point of contact at the university will work with students living in university housing to fill out forms and be counted.

Where You Count

  • ON CAMPUS If you live on campus or in JMU-owned housing, JMU will include you in “Group Quarters.” You will work with someone at JMU on an arranged day to fill it out. Also, tell your guardians not to count you in their household.
  • OFF CAMPUS If you live off-campus one (1) person from your household will fill out the Census. You will get a postcard in the mail starting in March inviting you to fill out the census online or by calling. Talk to your roommates about the Census. If you have an uncomfortable roommate situation….tough, but talk to your roommates. It’s important that you’re counted in Harrisonburg.
  • INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS If you’re an international student studying in the U.S. this spring, you will be counted in the Census.
  • COMMUTER If you’re a commuter you are counted where you live. If you live with a guardian, they count you. If you live on your own,please fill out the form!
  • STUDY ABROAD If you are going to be studying abroad in Spring of 2020 you will NOT be counted in the 2020 Census. Don’t fill it out, dont worry about it, see you in 2030.

More info here.

Download this primer: 2020 Census