Lobos: We urgently need your help! It’s not too late to be counted! The deadline to fill out the census is rapidly approaching (Sept. 30, 2020), and New Mexico is in danger of losing critical federal dollars. If our state loses federal funds, our University of New Mexico community loses federal funds as well.

So, what is the census, you might ask? The census is the once in a decade opportunity for us to re-shape our communities. A simple, 10-question questionnaire determines how more than $800 billion in federal funds get distributed across our country. In New Mexico alone, the 2020 census will determine how more than $7 billion per year gets distributed to our state. As students and members of the Lobo community, the census impacts us directly, as it determines how much funding is in:

• Medicaid

• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

• Federal student loans

• Pell Grants

• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

• Many more programs that we and our families use

For every person that is counted in the census, New Mexico receives $3,745 per person per year in federal funding. This funds all of the programs mentioned above and many more. So, for every person who does not fill out the census, our community loses $3,745 per person per year for the NEXT 10 years.

Everyone has heard about our budget crisis that is happening everywhere in our city, our University and throughout our state. Now, that crisis will only be accelerated if we get an undercount in New Mexico.

So, what can you do?

First of all, complete your census here: https://2020census.gov. Remember you can fill it out online, by phone or by mail. In the amount of time it takes to order food from the Student Union Building, you can fill out your census form for your entire household online. If you live in the dorms, UNM will count you, so you don’t have to do anything.

Everyone is included in the census (undocumented and international students included). There will not be a citizenship question. All census information is confidential and protected by federal law.

Secondly, be an ambassador to your fellow Lobos. Help your friends, classmates, neighbors and fellow Lobos understand why they should complete their census. Remind them how easy and how important it is.

Lastly, the U.S. Census Bureau’s new deadline to fill out your census is now Sept. 30. If you have any questions, you can contact the Census Bureau at 844-330-2020 for English and 844-468-2020 for Spanish.

Let’s make sure our state and our communities get the funding they deserve during this critical time in history. Remember, the University of New Mexico Lobos count, and so do you!

For more information on UNM efforts to count all Lobos in the 2020 census, go to http://race.unm.edu/census.html.

Erick Hernandez is a graduate student in the master’s program in elementary education and a co-chair of the UNM 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.