2020 Census Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE CENSUS?
The census counts everyone living in the United States every 10 years. Responses determine how $675 billion in federal funds are allocated to states, how legislative districts are drawn, and how governments, businesses, and nonprofits make decisions about how to address the needs in our community.
HOW DO I PARTICIPATE IN THE CENSUS?
For the first time, people can respond to the census online using their cell phone, tablet, or computer. People can also respond over the phone or by filling out a paper form and returning it in the mail.
WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN DISPLACED BY THE TORNADOES?
If you intend to return to your home after a natural disaster like the 2020 tornadoes, you should count yourself and your family at your home. If your usual residence was condemned, you should count yourself where you're living on April 1st, 2020.
DO I INCLUDE MY COLLEGE STUDENT IF THEY ARE NOW LIVING AT HOME DUE TO COVID-19?
No. If a student lived in off-campus housing, he or she should respond to the census on his or her own as though they are still living in that location. College students who were living in on-campus housing will still be counted through their college or university as part of the Census Bureau’s Group Quarters operation.
DOES COVID-19 CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE CENSUS?
While COVID-19 presents some challenges to the 2020 Census, you can still respond online by going to my2020census.gov or you can call 844.330.2020 to respond over the phone or to request a paper form. More information can be found here.
WHEN DOES THE CENSUS TAKE PLACE?
Tennesseans will begin receiving census instructions in the mail the week of March 12. If you do not respond, you will receive several reminders before census workers begin visiting homes in May. The complete timeline can be found here.
WHAT QUESTIONS DOES THE CENSUS ASK?
The census asks simple questions about the people living in your household. A sample census can be found here. Information about why the census asks each question can be found here.
WHAT IS NOT ASKED ON THE CENSUS?
The census will NOT ask for your social security number, bank account information or credit card number, political party affiliation, religion or citizenship status. It does not cost anything to respond to the census.
WHO SHOULD I INCLUDE ON MY CENSUS FORM?
You should include everyone living in your household on April 1st, including babies and children. You should also include relatives and friends who are staying with you, even temporarily, that do not have their own permanent residence.
Specific information about where college students, members of the military, hospital and nursing home patients, people who are in correctional and detention facilities and other special circumstances should be counted, can be found here.
WHY SHOULD I PARTICIPATE IN THE CENSUS?
States receive money for many important projects and programs based on census information. If all Tennesseans are not counted, we will not get our share of federal dollars. A list of some of the Tennessee programs that receive federal funding can be found here.
Census data gives community and business leaders vital information that help them make decisions, it impacts how legislative districts are drawn and determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
IS MY INFORMATION SAFE?
It is safe to provide your information on the census. The U.S. Census Bureau can only use your information to produce anonymous statistics and census data cannot be shared with law enforcement, immigration officials, the White House or anyone else.
For those that complete the census online, all data is encrypted and is not stored online.
WHAT IF SOMEONE DOESN'T SPEAK ENGLISH?
- Online and phone options are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Japanese.
- The paper form is available in English and in Spanish.
- Language guides are offered in 59 additional languages.
WHAT IS THE AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY?
The American Community Survey (ACS) is another survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It surveys a small percentage of households every year and asks more in-depth questions than the decennial census.