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NU offers cash to boost census count

Northwestern University students can help the Evanston community by filling out census forms — and they also can help themselves to cash prizes of up to $750.

U.S. Census Bureau workers are coming to Northwestern’s Evanston campus between April 5 and May 1 to make it easy for students to fill out census forms, and Northwestern will award cash prizes to groups competing for highest participation.

Residences with up to 85 people will be eligible for a $250 cash prize; residences housing 86 to 150 people will be eligible for the $500 prize; and those housing 151-plus residents will be eligible for the $750 prize. One fraternity and one sorority each will be eligible for a $250 prize.

University staff will tally participation, ties will be settled by a special drawing, and winners will be announced in mid-May. Students are free to use the prize money as they choose.

Census enumerators will be in each on-campus residence during a different two-day period, and a schedule will be posted in campus buildings. Forms will be available in residence halls and residential colleges between April 5 and 8 and in sororities and fraternities between April 5 and May 1.

Census staffers will be available to answer questions and to ensure that completed forms are turned back in. Unlike students living off campus (who already should have received their census forms and are expected to return them by mail), on-campus student residents do not mail their forms. Questions about the census also will be answered in the Norris University Center in a designated room.

The overriding message from Northwestern is that student participation really matters. Each Northwestern student counted in Evanston for the census will bring approximately $980 per year to the city for the next 10 years (to finance area schools, transportation, hospitals and community services).

The census also provides important data that inform research done by students and faculty and that affect college and university tuition grant and loan programs. Census data also guide businesses in making decisions about new locations — something that can result in more jobs for college graduates.

The goal of the census, which takes place every 10 years, is to count all individuals now living in the U.S., whether or not they are U.S. citizens. Northwestern students who reside on-campus for the majority of the year are eligible to be counted in Evanston. The information collected will not be shared with any other federal agency.

Taking 10 minutes to fill out a census form at Northwestern can make a big difference for the Evanston community and the University for the next 10 years.

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