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2020 Census: What is it?

This guide shares information and resources about the 2020 Census.

2020 Census

This 2020 Census guide provides resources and information about the 2020 Census including what the Census is, what questions will be on the Census, where to take the Census, and how Census data is used.

What is the Census?

The 2020 Census is a count of the population in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). The Census is mandated by the Constitution and is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. Each home will be invited to respond to a short questionnaire. It may be completed online, by phone, or by mail.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the right to implement the Census in “such a manner as they shall by law direct” (Article I, Section 2). The goal of the original Census was to count the population of the United States to determine representation in Congress. The Census is still used to determine how many representatives each state will get in the House of Representatives as well as to help leaders make decisions, redraw Congressional maps, and determines the distribution of $900 billion for federally funded programs such as Pell Grants. The Census has been conducted every ten years since 1790. 



“2020 Census: What is the Census.” United States Census Bureau, Accessed 11 March 2020. 

“What is the Census?” United States Census Bureau, Accessed 11 March 2020.


Watch the short video below to learn what the Census is, why it is required, and what it affects.

Nevada and the Census

The Census will affect how much federal funding Nevada receives as well as the number of representatives the state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit the Nevada Census website to learn more.

Census Made SImple

Watch the short video below for an overview about what the Census is, what it impacts, and how to take it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the 2020 Census ask about citizenship status?

A: No. The 2020 Census will not ask whether you or anyone in your home is a United States citizen.

Q: Are non-citizens counted in the Census?

A: Yes, everyone counts. The 2020 Census will count everyone living in the United States, including non-citizens. Visit the Census's Who To Count website to learn more about who you should count when completing the Census. 

Q: Can my answers be shared with law enforcement or used against me?

A: No. The law prevents the Census Bureau from sharing information with law enforcement. Answers will not be used to impact a persons eligibility for government benefits. 

Q: Can I only take the Census online?

A: No, the Census will also be available by phone and mail. People who respond to the Census online or by phone will be able to choose from 13 different languages. Paper Census's will be sent to every house that has not already responded to the Census once the Census Bureau sends out their fourth mail piece out.

For more information about what questions will not be on the Census visit the Census Bureau's Fighting 2020 Census Rumors webpage.


Why is the Census Important?

The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding will be spent every year for the next decade. The results of the Census will impact things such as the following:

  • Highway planning and construction
  • Grants for public transit
  • Head Start programs
  • Pell Grants
  • Medicare
  • Wildlife restoration
  • Emergency Food Assistance Program

Read the Census Bureau's Use of Census Bureau Data in Federal Funds Distribution to learn more. The data gathered from the Census is also used to determine how many representatives each state will get in the House or Representatives and to redraw Congressional maps.    

Questions? Ask me!

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Chelsea Heinbach
University Libraries - Lied Library


This guide was created by Maggie Bukowski, Outreach and Instruction Specialist under the guidance of Chelsea Heinbach, Teaching and Learning Librarian. 

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