Many Iowans will get cards from the U.S. Census Bureau in their mailboxes this week, urging them to take part in this year’s population count.

The results will be used to redraw political boundaries and distribute federal funding for everything from roads to health care. Gary Krob, the coordinator of the State Data Center of Iowa, says this is the first time most people will be asked to report the information online.

“The Census Bureau is really pushing the online response if at all possible because it saves the federal government a lot of money,” Krob says. “That’s gonna be the big push for the next month or two, really just getting people to participate.” Krob says the online form will not be the only way to respond. People can also provide information over the phone and paper forms will be sent out in April to anyone who hasn’t responded by then. Krob says census figures are used in redistricting and play a role in federal appropriations.

Krob says, “In 2016 alone, Iowa received $8.7 billion based on federal funds based on that population number.” Most census invitations will be in English but will include messages in 12 other languages about how to participate. Areas with high numbers of Spanish-speaking residents will receive bilingual cards.

(By Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio)