Want to help make sure there are enough seats on the bus?

How about helping secure the resources needed to keep the roads they run on smooth, as well as library shelves filled with books and first responders equipped to save lives?

These are exactly the types of public services influenced by the U.S. census — the nation’s decennial (once every 10 years) headcount — which will soon give Hokies the opportunity to help shape the future of Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, and beyond.

This spring, the entire Virginia Tech community, including undergraduate, graduate, and international students, as well as employees, will be counted where they reside on April 1, 2020. Every person, no matter their age or citizenship status, should be counted. This means the vast majority of students will be counted as a part of their campus communities, rather than their hometowns.

This population snapshot plays a critical role in the country’s democracy by helping decide accurate government representation, legislative districts and the allocation of about $675 billion in federal funds each year, throughout the next decade. The numbers will also provide vital information used in business decisions, such as the location of the next great grocery store or trend-setting restaurant.

An accurately counted student population ensures critical higher-education-related programs, such as Pell grants, food assistance programs, and small business development centers, are appropriately funded and students appropriately supported. For students and employees alike, taking part in this civic duty is also a way to assure that Montgomery County and other localities secure the funds needed for shared infrastructure. Established by the U.S. Constitution, the census has been collected since 1790.

Responding should only take about 15 minutes and all answers will be kept confidential, as directed by federal law.

Questions include:

  • Name
  • Frequency of residence
  • Other addresses a person may also reside
  • Sex
  • Age and birthdate
  • Ethnicity/race

Everyone will be counted where they live on April 1, though there are some minor differences between populations in terms of the counting process.

On campus, Blacksburg

Students living on campus or in Virginia Tech-owned housing, including the Inn at Virginia Tech and HIE Student Housing, will be included in “Group Quarters” counts. Each residence hall room will receive a questionnaire with detailed instructions during the week of April 6.

Resident life staff will be following up with students to ensure everyone is counted. Online and phone are NOT available for on-campus residents.

Off campus, Blacksburg and across the commonwealth

Students living off campus are to have one person from each household fill out the census. This will NOT be done by a landlord or property management company. Postcards with instructions for how to respond online, by phone, or by mail will be mailed to individuals March 12-20, 2020. Everyone in each living unit, no matter their age, citizenship, or status with the university needs to be counted. Failure to do so will result in follow-up visits from a U.S Census 2020 employee.


No matter a person’s country of origin, if they are studying or working at a Virginia Tech facility in the United States during the spring semester, they should be counted.


Students who commute should be counted where they live, either by filing their own report, if living alone, or as a part of a household report.

Study Abroad

Students studying abroad during the spring semester will not be counted in the 2020 census.


All employees are encouraged to take the census and will be counted where they live. Postcards with instructions for how to respond online, by phone, or by mail will be mailed March 12-20, 2020. Households need to file only one report.

Still have questions? Visit our 2020 Census Frequently Asked Questions page.

— Written by Travis Williams

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