UA students have a chance to directly impact the state legislature and city council on April 1 by filling out their census forms.
The census was created to take a snapshot of the way America looks every decade.
U.S. officials have begun sending out the 10-question census form to every residence in the United States and Puerto Rico. If individuals don’t mail this form back in the postage-paid envelope, they run the risk of being visited by a census taker. The 2010 Census forms are due April 1.
“They make it as simple as they possibly can,” said Nick Lemaster, a senior nursing major. “There are mailboxes all over campus, so students don’t really have an excuse not to fill out the forms. There’s no cost to do this, and people don’t realize how much it helps for government funding.”
According to the Census Bureau, college students living away from home while attending college should be counted where they live at school, while college students living at their parental home while attending college should be counted at their parents’ home.
In the 2000 census, approximately 2 million students were listed as having lived in either a dorm or residence hall, according to the Census Bureau.
Information gathered in the census is used to produce statistics, which will help communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funding per year.
The feedback from the census also affects the number of seats each state will occupy in the U.S. House of Representatives. Because of shifts in the population, the constitution requires states be periodically redistricted, changing the boundaries of their electoral districts.
Annette Watters, manager for the Alabama State Data Center, said avoiding the census will make a person become invisible, prohibit him or her from having any political influence and will restrict Tuscaloosa from qualifying for federal grants and appropriations.
These grants provide Tuscaloosa with the ability to invest in necessities such as roads, libraries, and sewers. Business decisions are also made based on the census statistics.
According to UA spokeswoman Cathy Andreen, new stores come to Tuscaloosa because they see from census data that there are enough students in the area to support them.
“If students are counted or uncounted in the wrong place, retailers and other employers don’t know that they should locate there,” Andreen said.