FAIR LAWN & GLEN ROCK, NJ - For some individuals, it’s their third or fourth go-around filling out the census, but for others, like college students, it’s their first time.

So, what’s a college student to do? Where do they live for the purpose of the census? Ilene Kahn, president of the League of Women Voters in Fair Lawn, said college students should fill out the census for the town in which they live and attend school, rather than their hometowns. But then, it gets trickier.

Students who live on campus for the majority of the year are automatically counted by their schools, but those who live off-campus are not.

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“If children who live at college were already counted as part of their parents' household, the parent can actually amend their census and allow the student to fill out his/her own for where they rent in the town where they attend school,” Kahn said.

The reasoning? Government officials then know where to allocate resources. These resources include: funding for health care, education, infrastructure, county road systems, public colleges, and much more. 

In an effort to educate young adults about the importance of the census, as well as how to fill it out, Bergen Volunteers, a local non-profit, has taken to social media. 

Debbie Emery, of Bergen Volunteers, explains that the census affects every aspect of our communities. In addition to the aforementioned resource allocation, the census plays a major role in determining the number of elected officials who represent New Jersey residents on the federal level. Emery said that three out of the last four census responses caused New Jersey to lose an elected official--in 1980, 1990, and 2010. Emery stressed New Jerseyans cannot afford to lose another congressional seat and that, population-wise, Bergen County is large enough to have its own congressional representation. Instead, this representation is shared with Essex County, Hudson County and Union County. 

The census is accessible from a smartphone, tablet or computer, as well as calling it in over the phone. But, access to the resources needed to fill out the census from home are not available to everyone. Enter Bergen Volunteers.

Bergen Volunteers is a group offering residents a physical location and assistance filling out the census. Beginning July 29, they are making chromebooks available and assisting those who may not be native English speakers. In order to maintain proper social distancing, this service will be by appointment only and masks are required. To make an appointment, call or email Debbie Emery at 201-489-9454, x202 or demery@bergenvolunteers.org.