Census Bureau Counts UMD Students in Poverty Estimates

by TRISTAN MADDEN

The poverty rate in College Park is high, but that may be because the United States Census Bureau included University of Maryland students in its poverty estimates of the town.

According to data collected from 2009 to 2013, 30.1 percent of College Park residents live under the poverty level, which accounts for about 9,154 out of 30,413 people.

During that same period, the average number of people living under the poverty level in Maryland was 9.8 percent.  Under 2014 guidelines, the poverty level for a family of four is an income of $23,850.

Randall Toussaint, College Park’s economic development coordinator, attributed the city’s high poverty level  to the Census Bureau’s method of collecting that data. The Census Bureau surveyed both College Park residents and on-campus UMD students to assess the poverty rate, Toussaint said.

Students often report being unemployed or income-less which heavily inflates the number, he added.

Contrary to Toussaint’s statements however, Census Bureau officials have said only students living off-campus are counted.

By the Census Bureau’s standards, any individual who has been living or plans to live in a community for more than two months qualifies as a resident of that community, which includes off-campus student planning to spend their semester in College Park, even if their stay is temporary.

However, the survey does not ask off-campus students if they are financially independent.  Survey forms ask students questions from their level of income to how much government aid they receive, but do not ask if students are dependent on a parent or guardian.

The Census Bureau also applies this methodology to all towns with large student populations.

 

Featured Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons