Hospitals, emergency response services, and disaster relief programs are on the front line of the global fight against COVID-19.

They are also exactly the types of public services greatly aided by the U.S. Census.

The nation’s decennial (once every 10 years) headcount 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.

While the global pandemic has halted much of daily life, this constitutionally mandated practice must go on to ensure our country’s most critical functions. And despite alterations to Virginia Tech’s spring semester, the census will still provide Hokies a great opportunity to support their community by helping shape the future of the university, Blacksburg, and beyond.

The population snapshot created by the census counts students as a part of their college or university communities. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have resulted in the federal government providing special guidance to ensure those communities are accurately represented.

According to the guidelines, any student temporarily away from Blacksburg due to the pandemic, should still be counted as a part of the university community. This remains true even if a parent or guardian has already included the student as a part of their census. The U.S. Census Bureau will cross-reference responses and eliminate duplicates.

Like every census, everyone — no matter age or nationality — should be counted, though there are some minor differences in the instructions between populations.

Across The Commonwealth

Students who were living off campus in Blacksburg when the spring semester began are to have one person from each household fill out the census using their Blacksburg address. 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 were 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.

On Campus, Blacksburg

Students who were living or in Virginia Tech-owned housing, including the Inn at Virginia Tech and HIE Student Housing, when the spring semester began will be included in “Group Quarters” counts. This can be achieved one of two ways:

  • The easiest way for students to be counted is by authorizing their information to be submitted by resident life staff. This can be done by visiting the StarRez Portal, logging in, and selecting the direct 2020 US Census eResponse Authorization link on the main page or find the form under Online Forms. The following information will then be submit on your behalf:
    • Name
    • Frequency of residence
    • Other addresses a person may also reside
    • Sex
    • Age and birthdate
    • Ethnicity/race
  • Students can go to and enter their information on their own using their Census ID number or resident hall address.


No matter a person’s country of origin, if they were studying or working at a Virginia Tech facility in the United States when the spring semester began, 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 were mailed March 12-20, 2020. Households need to file only one report.

For more information visit Virginia Tech’s Census 2020 Frequently Asked Questions.

 Travis Williams