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Student census turnout high

Northwestern University officials say more than  98 percent of NU students living in on-campus residence halls, sororities and fraternities participated in this spring’s U.S. Census count.

Census officials estimate each extra person counted is worth $980 a year in state and federal dollars for the city, local schools and other local government agencies. So the forms filled out by 4,031 students living in university residence halls and 836 in sororities and fraternities will add up to $4.8 million in state and federal dollars for each of the next 10 years.

The participation rate for was 98.3 percent for dorm residents and 98.8 percent for those in sororities and fraternities. The mail-in participation rate for Evanston households was 76 percent.

“Because Northwestern students represent 10 to 12 percent of Evanston’s total population, it’s vital to the city that college students residing in Evanston understand that, for census purposes, they are Evanston residents and not residents of the towns they grew up in and may call home,” said planner Craig Sklenar, the city’s liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Northwestern sent messages to students through e-mail, Twitter, listservs, press releases and Facebook to promote census participation.

The University allocated $2,000 in cash prizes for a competition among on-campus residences and fraternities and sororities for the best participation rates. In addition, administrators hired 30 students who worked 140 hours assisting on-campus census enumerators.

“Northwestern really hammered away at the census message,” Sklenar said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner.”

Lucile Krasnow of Northwestern’s community relations office, with other Northwestern officials and representatives of the Associated Student Government, led University efforts to ensure student participation in the census.

No participation rate figures are available for students living off-campus or in on-campus family housing for grad students.

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