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Invitations to respond to the US census began circulating in early March, encouraging residents of Knoxville to report information from their households. This year, a new online reporting option is available, making responding to the census easier than ever.

The census collects information from households, residence halls, and nursing homes—and even transitory living places like shelters and campgrounds—to gather a complete count of residents on April 1, 2020. For college students, that means the US Census Bureau wants to know where a student is living on or near campus, such as their apartment or residence hall, not the permanent address of a parent or guardian.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many students have returned home to their primary residence. Despite this change, students should respond to the census with their Knoxville address if they were living off campus.

There are two main options for UT students to respond to the census, depending on where they lived before the COVID-19 pandemic:

On-campus residents can respond to the census through the University Housing portal using their NetID and password. This includes any student who was living in a residence hall or a sorority or fraternity house. Once logged in, students can select the “US Census 2020” tab and click “I agree” to authorize University Housing to report their basic demographic information to the US Census Bureau on their behalf.

Off-campus students can respond to the census online at It is important that students living off campus respond with their college residence, regardless of where they are living now. A 12-digit Census ID was probably mailed to off-campus apartments and houses, but you do not need it to fill out your census form online. Just select “If you do not have a Census ID, click here” and follow the prompts to enter your off-campus address. If you lived with roommates, designate one person to answer for everyone in the home.

International students should respond to the census as well. All residents of the United States on April 1, 2020, regardless of citizenship, visa type, or immigration status, are included in the count. International students can respond using the instructions above for campus and off-campus residents.

UT employees and Knoxville community members have the same reporting options as off-campus students. Households can be reported by mail or over the phone if preferred.

“We’re asking students to represent future Vols by completing the census. Future funds for services, roads, and other infrastructure in part depend on students responding,” said Tim Kuhn, director of the Tennessee State Data Center, housed in the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research in UT’s Haslam College of Business.

Kuhn was appointed by Governor Bill Lee to the Tennessee Complete Count Committee, working along with 37 other government and community leaders to develop ways to encourage Tennesseans to participate in the 2020 census.

Getting a complete count for the state of Tennessee is crucial, as the data collected determines government representation and funding for local communities from both state and federal sources. Numbers collected this spring will be the basis for the state’s funding allocation over the next 10 years. If the Census Bureau can’t correctly count Tennessee’s estimated 234,000 college students ages 18–24 at the houses, apartments, and residence halls where they live during the academic year, it can mean thousands of dollars in lost revenue for the community were the institution is located.

You can learn more about the city of Knoxville’s census efforts at Visit the Tennessee Data Center website for more information and statistics related to census counts in Tennessee.


Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993,