Census 2020

In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will be conducting its decennial census - a constitutionally mandated headcount of everyone living in the United States. An accurate Census count is vitally important for local communities, which is why the City of East Lansing has formed a Census 2020 Complete Count Committee that is working to get the word out about the importance of being counted. 

If You Live Here, Be Counted Here

Anyone who lives in East Lansing the majority of the year (six months or more), whether they are a year-round resident, college student* or international community member (regardless of citizenship status; see international citizenship section below).

It's also important to note that Census forms are 100 percent confidential; strict federal law protects Census responses. 

*In most cases, MSU students should still be counted in East Lansing, even if they have temporarily relocated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Special thanks to ASMSU and COGS student leadership for sending this email out to Spartans on Wednesday, March 18. 

Census Form Now Online

The 2020 Census form is now available to be filled out online at https://2020census.gov/. Most community members should have received an invitation in the mail to fill out their form online, but if they didn't, they can still fill it out by looking for the link indicating that they don't have their Census i.d.

Why is it important?

Responding to the Census is not only an individual's civic duty; it also affects how much federal funding that communities receive to support housing, education, transportation, employment, healthcare and more. Federal funding of approximately $1,800 per person, per year will be allocated to communities over the next 10 years for each person counted. In Michigan, 42 percent of the state's budget relies on federal funding and more than $15 billion in federal and state funding has been distributed to Michigan communities annually based on Census data. An accurate Census count also helps communities to plan for the future (i.e. business attraction, neighborhood/housing improvements) and is essential for fair distribution of political representation. 

Census Count Process

Beginning in March 2020, most households (80 percent) will receive an invitation to complete the Census questionnaire online. The other 20 percent of households (areas identified as less likely to respond online) will receive a paper questionnaire along with their invitation to respond online or by phone. A series of reminder letters and postcards will be sent following this initial mailing and the U.S. Census Bureau will follow up in person with households that have yet to respond in late April 2020. Learn more

International Citizenship

The current version of the Census form, which is being printed for distribution in the spring, does not have a citizenship question. At this point, there is no indication that the citizenship question will be added to the form. Individuals with international citizenship status should still fill out the Census form indicating where they live on April 1, 2020. Individuals are encouraged to fill out as much information as they feel comfortable sharing. 


Online Census forms and phone assistance will be available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian, Creole, Portuguese and Japanese. Mailed Census forms will be available in English and bilingual English/Spanish. Language guides will include versions in American Sign Language, Braille and Large Print. 

Sample Census Form

View a Census 2020 Sample Form (PDF).

Census Jobs

The U.S. Census Bureau is currently hiring Census takers. In addition to helping support the local community, Census jobs provide an opportunity to earn extra income (weekly pay) and work flexible hours. The jobs also offer paid training. Visit 2020census.gov/jobs to learn more and apply.