Census 2020

The United States 2020 census is right around the corner, and we want to help you in understanding how the census helps your schools and communities. The goal for the census is to count everyone once and in the right place.

A group of students raising their hands


The census is an official count of the U.S. population
and households. It provides important data to many functions in our society.

Your data helps your school

The census helps our country provide fair education
to all of our students. It is used to:

  • determine where Title 1 grants go, which helps schools in serving students from
    low-income families

  • assign Special Education grants to states

  • fund the National School Lunch programs

  • provide grants to improve teacher quality and preschool programs

  • determine how to best meet the needs of students in a community

Used to inform our communities

  • Residents use it in supporting community initiatives. Businesses also use it in creating places for jobs, and real estate agencies make new neighborhoods and revitalize old ones from the data.

  • It aids in enforcing civil and voting rights legislation.

  • It is used by local governments for safety and emergency preparations.

  • It determines how government monies are spent supporting state, county, and community efforts.

  • The census is key in redistributing the House of Representatives, which determines how many seats a state gets.

  • It is used to redraw boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts.

How it works

Your information is legally protected

The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code, which provides protection to the citizens of the United States. The Census:

  • must be confidential and used only for statistical purposes

  • cannot be used to share information that identifies people, homes, or businesses for 72 years (including names, addresses, social security numbers, or phone numbers)

  • will not be able to be used against anyone in court or by a government agency, including immigration and law enforcement, the IRS, FBI, CIA, or any government body

  • requires census bureau staff to take a legally-binding oath for life to protect the personal information of the public

Participating in the Census

You can submit your responses to the census in several ways, such as:

  • through a secure internet response form

  • through a phone call

  • by mail

  • or by an in-person interview, which will be conducted by a numerator who visits your home

Census timeline

The process to complete a census happens over an extended period of time. Learn more about the census timeline and key steps along the way on the Census Bureau's Important Dates page.

Learn more

The Census has a rich history in our country. The writers of the U.S. Constitution ordered in Article 1, Section 2 that a census of the population must occur every 10 years. They wanted the population to be what determined political power, not wealth and land ownership. The first census was held in 1790 and is considered a civic duty of being in a democracy. The Census Bureau is the government power that now runs the population census. 


The Census Bureau has the answers to many questions about the Census, how to participate, and more. #uscensusbureau

Go to the Census Bureau website