NAICU Washington Update

Census 2020 Requests Records of Students Living Off-Campus

June 18, 2020

NAICU has learned that Census 2020 administrators are concerned about a lower than normal response from college towns, likely due to COVID-19.  In response, Census 2020 administrators have sent a letter to college and university presidents thanking them for their help in getting an accurate count of students, and then giving notice that Census 2020 will be asking for the administrative records of all students living off campus.

The letter states that Census Bureau local staff will be reaching out to campuses starting June 16. 

By obtaining this data and comparing it to what they have already collected, Census 2020 hopes to get a more accurate count by eliminating duplicates. Census administrators have acknowledged they are aware of the FERPA constraints on colleges in releasing such data. 

In the letter sent to presidents, Census 2020 administrators offer assurances that personally identifiable information will not be shared or released in any form. 

NAICU along with six other national higher education associations signed a letter addressed to the U.S. Census Bureau to express our shared concern about the confusion created by asking for data colleges and universities are prohibited to provide under FERPA without student consent.

NAICU has also asked for changes in the deadlines for responding to the Census request. The first deadline is in four weeks for students living off-campus; and by August 26 for students living in “group quarters” housing owned or leased by the college or university or housing leased or managed by private companies. 

NAICU members are encouraged to review a letter addressed to institutions of higher education by the Department of Education in January, in regards to FERPA and the Census 2020.

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