Massachusetts college students from out of state should be counted as Bay State residents in the 2010 federal census, even if they are registered to vote elsewhere, Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin said during a meeting today with officials from more than 40 regional colleges.
Galvin is kicking off a seven-month-long campaign to ensure that college students are not overlooked in the April count, which occurs every 10 years.
The higher the count, the more federal dollars that flow into the state for transportation, health care, and other public services. A high number could also keep Massachusetts, which estimates show has declined in population since the 2000 Census, from losing a congressional seat.
“A key part of our strategy is to get our maximum population count,” Galvin said in a phone interview today. “We would like to make sure that our delegation remains at 10 and our electoral vote remains at 12, but it’s really about money and not being shortchanged on federal funds.”
The Boston metropolitan area has the highest concentration of colleges in the nation, boasting more than 360,000 students from around the world at its more than 80 colleges and universities, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Galvin knows he faces a tough battle. Many college students are unaware of the census’ impact on federal funding and representation. Some simply would prefer to be counted as a resident in their home states. Others are suspicious of the government or have concerns about identity theft and personal privacy, making them hesitant to share information.
“If some student here is riding the T day in and day out to go to class, shouldn’t we get credit using whatever federal formula that helps us get money for the T?” he said. “It’s not unreasonable. It’s not a trick.”
According to federal rules, people should be counted where they live and sleep most of the year, so students living in dormitories would receive their questionnaires there. This would include international students. Students must fill out the questionnaires in order to be counted.
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