Census form easy to fill out, necessary for U.S.

Andy Ouriel and Andy Ouriel

Don’t think all mail is junk this week.

Packaged in between flimsy coupon pages and unwanted bill notices lays a vital document — the 2010 U.S. Census form.

The census is the nation’s best method of calculating the U.S. population. The census is recalculated each decade.

All census forms are due April 1. Students living on campus will receive the form in April and get extensions to hand one in.

Larry Courtney, Bowling Green census office manager, said it’s imperative University students and Bowling Green residents perform a patriotic duty.

Completing the census can only benefit one’s community, Courtney said. The government budgets $400 billion for state-funded projects. The more people living in an area, the more money the location is entitled to, so long as residents fill out a census, Courtney said.

“That money goes for infrastructure, schools, roads [and] all sorts of municipal and state projects,” he said.

Sophomore Lindsey Gazdak said filling out a census is “pretty important.” Gazdak said she hopes other students take a few minutes to finish the government-issued document.

“I think everyone should do their part,” Gazdak said.

The census is also crucial for politics. Population figures determine how many elected officials from a state sit in the House of Representatives.

For example, Ohio ranks seventh among the 50 states in the country. Out of 435 elected officials, Ohio has the seventh most representatives in the House with 18.

The number of Ohio representatives can increase or decrease depending on the amount of Ohioans returning the census to the government.

“I want Ohio to be properly represented in the House of Representatives … and the municipalities of Ohio to get their share of the $400 billion,” Courtney said.

Yet some won’t consider the census a priority.

Courtney estimates somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of citizens won’t complete a form.

For every percentage point not turning in a census above 30 percent, it will cost the government $90 million. Government employees must go door-to-door to collect the necessary data. If 40 percent of Americans don’t hand in a census, it will cost the government $900 million to send employees door-to-door to collect the data.

Courtney said it’s the responsibility of Americans to fill out the form, which will take about 10 minutes.

“I want to help in any way I can to make sure we get an accurate count,” Courtney said.

Anyone not receiving a census in the mail, or having questions on the process, can call the Bowling Green office at 419-807-8581.

On campus

The Office of Residence Life is preparing to count each student living on campus for the 2010 U.S. Census.

Beginning the week of either April 12 or 19, residential advisors and Greek housing directors will administer the census to students, said Sarah Waters, senior associate director of Residence Life.

Students living on campus are placed into a separate census category. This means the University is allowed an extension to hand in census forms, Waters said.

The deadline for the United States, including students living off campus, is April 1.

Knowing the exact number of students living on campus can help the city receive federal dollars and retain the proper number of elected officials in the House of Representatives.

“We’re concerned that our students have the best information and realize their voice matters here at our University and in our city,” Waters said.

Students must count where they live presently and not expect their parents to fill a census out for them, Waters said.

Residence Life will educate its staff on the proper procedure for issuing the census. Students living on campus will not have to mail the form in, Waters said. Students can hand the form to the appropriate person in their living quarter.

“Our staff will not go into this blindly. They will have the best possible information they can have,” Waters said.

Making Sense of the Census

What is the U.S. Census?

A government initiative to count each person living in the United States.

How often do I have to fill one out?

Once every 10 years. The next time will be in 2020.

When do I have to fill out the census and mail it back in by?

April 1 if you live anywhere other than campus. Mid-April is the deadline for students living in residence halls.

Why do I have to fill one out?

It’s required by the U.S. Constitution.

What are the main purposes of the U.S. Census?

Two reasons:

To determine how many elected officials from each state serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.To determine how much each state receives in federal spending. Each year, the U.S. Government administers $400 billion to states for public uses.

What happens if I don’t fill one out?

Government employees will come to your residence next month. Mailing the form back before the April 1 deadline will save the government millions, and possibly billions, of dollars.

How long will it take me to fill out the form?

Approximately five to 10 minutes.

What does the census ask me?

Your name, birth date, sex, race and phone number. It also asks how many people live in your residence, if you stay in more than one place and if you rent, own or live free of charge at the occupancy in question.

Can this information incriminate me?

No. These documents are used strictly for population count and are kept confidentially for 72 years.

Can I complete the form online?

No. All forms must be mailed back to the government.

Where do I mail the census back to?

A self-addressed envelope is included with the form. Postage is not necessary. All you have to do is put the completed form back in the mailbox and you’re done.

Sources: Larry Courtney, Bowling Green census office manager; www.census.gov