Cardinals Count

The U.S. Constitution mandates that our nation count its population every 10 years. 

The 2020 Census will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population — a snapshot of America — and it is imperative that we energize and educate on the importance of being counted. Information gathered in the census is used to allocate federal funding for roads, hospitals, and schools, as well as many other programs on which Minnesotans depend.

Census 2020 Update: COVID-19

Cardinals, it's time to be counted.

As 2020 Census forms arrive in mailboxes around the country, it’s time for Saint Mary's students to help shape the future of the United States. Even though you may be living in a different location or have moved home, Cardinals still should be counted as part of the Minnesota community.

Taking the time to respond to the census accurately is critical for our local community and state. Census responses impact funding allocations for schools, roads, and other resources like federal grant and aid programs. Results also decide Minnesota’s number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and congressional and legislative districts.

In the wake of COVID-19, the federal government recently updated its guidance on how college and university students should respond to the census. Here’s what Cardinals need to know:

  • Students who were living on campus or lived on campus before the residence halls closed, do not need to respond to the census. They will be counted by the university.
  • Students who were living in an off-campus apartment or home, but are now temporarily living at another location, should respond using the address where they lived before spring break by visiting and entering the 12-digit code received in the mail. If you don’t have a code, click “Start Questionnaire,” and then the option to indicate that you do not have a census ID. Ideally, one person should respond on behalf of everyone living in the house. If it is not possible to coordinate with roommates, everyone should respond, and the U.S. Census Bureau will eliminate duplicate responses.
  • Students currently living in their off-campus residence, the same information applies and they should respond to the census.
  • International students should follow the guidelines above that apply, regardless of their whereabouts after spring break or permanent residency.
  • Students who were studying abroad and have returned to the United States by April 1, should be counted where they are currently living.

Additional materials

Census 2020: New Guidance on Counting College Students in light of COVID-19 

VIDEO: What College Students Need to Know to be Counted in the Right Place

2020 Census: The Basics

Why the Census Matters

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. Saint Mary’s University students at the College are counted in Winona. Saint Mary’s students at the Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs are counted where they reside for a majority of the year. A complete count is important because it will guide decisions about our campuses voting precincts, in addition to other decisions like bus routes in Winona and Minneapolis 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

  • Census 2020 is the first time households can complete the census online.
  • You are counted in the location you spend the majority of your time.
  • 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.
  • Most households can start participating around mid-March 2020, when letters with instructions are scheduled to be sent to 95% of homes around the country.
  • The census counts every person living in the U.S. regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
  • Under current federal law, the Census Bureau cannot share census responses identifying individuals with the public or other federal agencies, including immigration authorities and other law enforcement, until 72 years after the information is collected. The Census Bureau, however, can release anonymized census information about specific demographic groups at a level as detailed as a neighborhood.

Why It's Important

The data that will be collected by the 2020 Census is critical for states, counties, and communities. It will shape political representation, funding of government programs, the flow of business and commerce, and the planning and delivery of services to local communities. As the examples below show, the census has far-reaching effects, holding relevance to many facets of our everyday life in Minnesota.


Census data determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the size of voting districts for state and local governments.

Minnesota is at risk of losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Census data guides approximately $589 billion in federal spending allocated to local communities each year, including more than $15 billion distributed to Minnesota communities.

Even one missed person could mean forfeiting almost $28,000 in funding for the next 10 years.


Census data helps decision-makers plan roads, schools, hospitals, senior centers, and emergency services to best serve changing populations.

With accurate demographic data about Minnesota, we can understand shifting community needs and efficiently direct resources to address them.


Census data assists businesses in locating factories and stores, recruiting employees, and conducting market research.

Chambers of commerce and other business organizations across Minnesota gain valuable insights by using census data.

You and your community benefit most when everyone is counted!

2020 Census Resources

Cardinals count. Fill out your 2020 census forms!