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Every Redbird Counts: 2020 U.S. Census

student standing outside an off-campus apartment

The 2020 Census is quickly approaching, and it is more important than ever for every Redbird to be counted.

“During the last U.S. Census 10 years ago, the area around Illinois State University was vastly undercounted,” said Harriett Steinbach, assistant director at the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. “This resulted in a loss of federal funding for both McLean County and the Town of Normal—as much as $2,000 per year was lost for each individual not counted.”

Census information is used in determining representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and with the distribution of $675 million in federal dollars used to support initiatives such as Pell Grants, public transportation, mental health services, infrastructure (even 5G), and more.

2020 Census Logo Every Redbird Counts “Federal student loans, research grants, campus funding for improvements, health and social services impact all students in some way,” said Eric Hanson, assistant city manager for the Town of Normal. “Funding for these programs is dependent on a complete and accurate count. This year, participating in the Census is easier, faster, and U.S. Census Bureau guarantees privacy. Be counted, Redbirds!”

Over the last year, Steinbach has worked with individuals across McLean County to help coordinate Census efforts at Illinois State. “Completing the census is considered a civic duty, a responsibility that all community members have. CESL is the department tasked with supporting and advancing civic engagement at Illinois State, so it made sense for us to take the lead.”

“This is also very much about being a good neighbor,” Steinbach continued. “When we accurately count students living in Normal, we help make sure the town and county receive the funding they need to help support our students.”


Fast facts

Even though students might be at their permanent residences on April 1 because of coronavirus (COVID-19), the U.S. Census Bureau says that they should be counted where they would normally have been living on April 1. This means students should be counted at their campus addresses, not by their parents.

How you fill out the Census depends on where you would be living at Illinois State:

  • University residence halls and Cardinal Court: Illinois State will complete the Census for these students.
  • Off-campus housing: one person at each residence should fill out the Census form for everyone residing in the apartment or house.
  • Fraternity or sorority chapter house: chapter leaders will be in contact about information they will collect.

All students should be counted, regardless of citizenship. International students impact funding, too!

Census officials sign an oath for life and do not disclose any information about individuals.


  • April 1—Census Day.
  • May 7—Census enumerators will start going door-to-door to residences not yet counted in an attempt to get the most accurate Census data.


If you have questions regarding Illinois State University and the 2020 U.S. Census, contact the CESL at (309) 438-1100 or

Illinois State Faculty/Staff: contact CESL at the information above if you would like digital classroom resources about the Census.

You can also visit the U.S. Census website for more information or to complete the Census.