By mid-March, households across the country will start receiving official mail from the U.S. Census Bureau, instructing them how to fill out the 2020 Census in person, online or by phone. At The University of New Mexico, that count includes people living in resident halls and dormitories.

Every New Mexican counted in the 2020 Census could result in about $3,745 more federal dollars for our state.

According to the Census Bureau, people in dormitories are classified as living in group quarters. Group quarters will be counted in the Decennial Census, so students should coordinate with their family to ensure their parents do not duplicate the count. To raise awareness of best practices when it comes to filling out the Census, the UNM Complete Count Committee is holding several events.

“We want to ensure people have all the knowledge and opportunities we can provide them about the Census,” said Nancy López, co-chair of the UNM 2020 Census Complete Count Committee. “From how to fill out the form, to who should fill it out and how students can get paid to help the Census Bureau – we want to be a one-stop for UNM and the community.”

There will be an awareness event on March 4 from 11-11:45 a.m. on Cornell Mall, east of the SUB. Speakers will present on the importance of participating in the Census and will explain the process in a variety of languages.

On April 1, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the UNM Complete Count Committee will be holding a block party to promote national Census Day. On Cornell Mall, east of the SUB, there will be free food, information tables representatives from the Census Bureau on-hand to answer questions. There will also be computers set up so people can fill out their Census and tell the Census Bureau where they live as of April 1,2020.

From April until July, the Census Bureau will be visiting households to follow up with people who have not yet turned in their forms. The official apportionment counts will be submitted to the U.S. President and Congress by December.

Getting an accurate count of the people living in New Mexico is essential to receiving adequate federal funding. According to new numbers from i Count NM, if New Mexico undercounts residents by only 1%, we would lose $780 Million Dollars. That money impacts Federal Assistance Programs including Medicaid, SNAP benefits, highway planning and construction, housing, and grant programs for early childhood education and special ed. Every New Mexican counted in the 2020 Census could result in about $3,745 more federal dollars for our state. Because of the potential funds, it’s imperative New Mexicans make sure they are on the rolls during the upcoming count.

“If someone is not counted, the error carries for 10 years and that equates to massive amounts of federal funding our state would miss out on,” said Robert Rhatigan, interim director of UNM Geospatial and Population Studies and state demographer for New Mexico.

Data from the Census Bureau shows about 43 percent of New Mexico’s population live in “hard-to-count” areas – and the bureau is trying news ways to combat the problem. The 2020 Census is the first to be offered as an online option, in addition to being offered via mail-in and phone.

Click here to read more about the 2020 Census.