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The Faces behind the 2020 Census

Written by on September 4, 2020

NORMAL, Ill.- Yesterday, Sept. 3,2020 was the last day for Census takers to work with administrators at colleges, senior centers, prisons and other facilities that house large groups of people to make sure everyone is counted.

Illinois State’s Head of Government Documents Angela Bonnell’s role is to focus on working with the census data after it has been published by the Census Bureau. She works with and helps patrons understand census data in published and data formats.

Photo courtesy to ISU

But why should we care about the 2020 Census?

“The 2020 Census influences community funding and congressional representation,” said Bonnell.

Information collected in the census informs the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funds for states and communities each year. That includes money for Pell Grants, adult education grants, student wellness programs, community mental health services and road construction and repair.

According to the Illinois Complete Count Commission, Census Bureau estimated it missed 59,800 Illinoisans when the 2010 Census was conducting and as a result, the state lost $122 million in federal funding.

“I provide leadership in planning, directing, and coordinating the activities of government documents, including developing responsive user services; building and managing the library’s collection of print, microform, and electronic resources,” said Bonnell. “I also promote the use of the documents to the campus and community and prepare user guides and web pages and serve as liaison with other depository libraries in Illinois.”

But who submits the final numbers?

The Group Quarter Administrator is the person responsible for submitting Census data for places where people live or stay in a group living arrangements (like residence halls) and that is coordinated by Illinois State University Registrar’s office and Student Housing. They work with the Census Bureau for those students living in residence halls and provide name, sex, date of birth, age on April 1, 2020, race and whether they are of Hispanic origin.

Most students attending Illinois state will be counted in McLean County.

However, according to the Census Bureau, “The census counts people where they live and sleep most of the time, and that includes college students. With many students having left their college campuses because of school closures before census questionnaires were delivered, the Census Bureau needs help counting students where they would have been living and sleeping as of April 1, 2020.”