What you need to know about changes on federal forms when it comes to race


    The Biden administration is overhauling how the federal government defines and counts race and ethnicity on the census, federal aid applications and other federal forms, The Wall Street Journal reports

    The changes, published Thursday, will reshape how race and ethnicity are recorded on future census surveys as well as on routine forms, including applications for student loans or cash assistance. The changes will eventually require thousands of state and local governments and businesses that collect information for the federal government to make changes to forms and data systems.

    Under the old standard, agencies are required to ask separate questions to determine a person’s race, and then whether or not they are “Hispanic or Latino.” The new standard combines those questions into a single list of categories, and respondents can choose more than one—such as checking both “Hispanic” and “African-American.” 

    Respondents will have at least seven categories to choose from: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African-American; Hispanic or Latino; Middle Eastern or North African; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; and white. It marks the first time the standards will include the “Middle Eastern or North African” category. Under the previous framework, those people were counted as white. 

    The new standards will take effect immediately and should be rolled out as quickly as possible for hundreds of federal forms and surveys, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which implemented the changes. Agencies will need to adopt the new standards within five years.

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