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2010 U.S. Census

Information for International Students and Scholars

Many Boston University international students and scholars have begun receiving information from the U.S. Census Bureau and may have questions regarding the purpose of the census, if you are required to participate, and potential consequences of answering the questionnaire. This message is being sent to provide a very brief overview and to direct you to resources for finding more information.

In short, you are required to participate in the census and doing so will have no impact on your immigration status or legal standing in the U.S. The information collected in the census is kept confidential and not shared with other government agencies.


(All of the following information was adapted from materials published by the U.S. Census Bureau)



The census is a headcount of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in "such manner as they shall by Law direct" (Article I, Section 2). This was part of the plan of the Founders of the U.S. to empower the people over their government. This count happens only once every 10 years. An accurate count of residents in intended to provide for better infrastructure and appropriate distribution of services. The information the census collects helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services like:


 Job training centers


 Senior centers

 Bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects

 Emergency services

Who Participates?

Everyone in the United States on April 1, including international students and scholars . Everyone in the United States must be counted. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens and noncitizens.


Why are international students and scholars included in the census?

The Census Bureau is mandated by the Constitution to count everyone who lives in this country, regardless of immigration or citizenship status. So even if the U.S. is not your country of citizenship, if you live in the U.S. most of the year, you will be counted in the census.


What is Your Living Situation?

Living on campus:  If you live in a dormitory, residence hall, sorority or fraternity house, you will receive a 2010 Census form in April or May 2010 to fill out for you individually.

Living off campus:   If you live off campus, 2010 Census forms will be delivered or mailed to your house or apartment in March 2010. All students living at the address are considered one household, so only one form per domicile should be completed with information about all the people living at that address. Return the form in the U.S. mail envelope provided.

Living with parents or guardians:  If you commute to school and reside full-time at your parents' or guardians' household, you should be accounted for on your parents' or guardians' household form so no need to fill out a form.

Will the census share my information with anyone?

No. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share an individual's census questionnaire responses with anyone, including the FBI, the CIA, Welfare, Immigration, other government agencies, or law enforcement entities. All Census Bureau employees have taken an oath to protect confidentiality and know that they are subject to a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both, for disclosing any information that could identify a respondent or household.


More Information

Additional information, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on the following web pages of the U.S. Census Bureau.

U.S. Census Bureau home page:

FAQs about the Census:

Your personal information is protected:



Boston University
May 4, 2010

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office