Several college towns across the country are planning to challenge the results of the 2020 U.S. Census because they claim they were undercounted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The global pandemic forced many students to leave campus and the surrounding towns to return home in 2020. Colleges and universities are allowed to submit data to the U.S. Census Bureau detailing the number of students who live in dorms and other on-campus housing.
Because those students were not living on campus while the census was being conducted, many local officials are concerned that they may be short-changed by thousands of residents, which could cost them federal money.
According to ABC News, authorities in Bloomington, Indiana, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and State College, Pennsylvania, are looking into ways they can contest the results, so they more accurately reflect the number of people who currently live in their cities.
The population in Winona, Minnesota, where St. Mary's University of Minnesota and Winona State University are located, saw its population decline by 5,000 residents. According to the Star Tribune, that is the second-largest drop in the state. Two other college towns were among the top five cities with the largest decrease in population.
"If you could pick a perfect storm to happen, I think we might have had that," Winona City Manager Stephen Sarvi told the Tribune.