The University of Texas at Austin
Federally Imposed Ethnicity and Race Code Changes

Questions and Answers

Why are the ethnicity and race codes changing?

The ethnicity and race codes changed with Census 2000. As a result, effective fall 2010, the federal government has mandated that all educational institutions (elementary and secondary schools, two- and four-year colleges and universities) must begin reporting ethnicity and race data that allow respondents to choose more than one race. While information on new students and staff will be automatically collected in the new format, current students and employees will have an opportunity to re-identify themselves using the new format.

Who proposed these changes?

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget determined in 1997 that new ethnicity and race codes would be implemented for collecting all data reported to the federal government. This ruling is now being implemented in educational institutions. However, these categories were used in Census 2000 and are already being used by many companies in reporting data to the federal government.

Why were these changes proposed? What is wrong with the present system?

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget said these new codes allow data on ethnicity and race to reflect the growing diversity of our nation. A major difference with the new categories is that they allow for identification of more than one race. The growing diversity is illustrated by the fact that in the 2000 census (the first time these new codes were used), children and youth reported being of more than one race at a substantial rate—more than twice the rate of adults.1

Is The University of Texas at Austin required to make these changes?


Who will be affected by the change?

All students, faculty and staff new to the institution will fill out forms that use the new categories. Current students and employees will be given an opportunity to re-identify themselves using the new codes.

Where do we report race codes?

For students and employees, ethnicity and race data for the federal government are reported to the U.S. Department of Education. Other staff information is reported to the U.S. Department of Labor. For the state, ethnicity and race data are reported to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Human Resources Information System, etc. The university also maintains data on students, faculty, and staff by ethnicity and race.

How are the new codes different from the old codes?

The revised methodology provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has a two-question format that allows for the differentiation between ethnicity and race. The first question asks if the respondent is Hispanic/Latino. (Hispanic or Latino means a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.) The second question asks the respondent to select one or more races from the following five racial groups:
(1) American Indian or Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and south America (including Central America), and who maintains a tribal affiliation or community attachment.
(2) Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
(3) Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
(4) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
(5) White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Data Collection
  Hispanic (yes/no)
Please indicate which of the following groups best describes your racial background. Race (more than one may be chosen)
White, non-Hispanic White Black, non-Hispanic Black/African American
Asian/Pacific Islander Asian
  Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander
American Indian/Alaska Native American Indian/Alaska Native

Will current students and staff have a chance to identify their ethnicity and race according to the new codes?

Every student and employee (staff and faculty) will be given an opportunity to re-identify their ethnicity and race according to the new categories. Students may do this by going to and employees (faculty and staff) by going to

Can a student or employee not respond to the ethnicity and race questions? What will happen to them if they do not respond?

There is no requirement for a current students or employees to re-identify themselves or to respond to ethnicity and race questions. And there is no penalty if they choose not to re-identify or respond to the questions. When current students or employees choose not to re-identify their ethnicity or race, the university will use the information currently on file for them.

Prospective students will be asked to provide race and ethnicity information during the application process. If they do not reply, they will be counted as “unknown.” Prospective employees will also be asked about ethnicity and race during the application process. If they do not respond to the questions, they will be counted as “unknown” during the application process. However, when employees are hired, they will be required by the federal Department of Labor to provide their ethnicity and race. This is also the current practice.

What if I am both a student and an employee? Do I need to re-identify twice?

Yes. Unfortunately, the systems that contain student data and employee data are separate systems.

How, when, and where will this re-identification be done?

Communication to the campus directs current students to a web site where they will be able to update their codes ( Faculty and staff are directed to to update their codes. Re-identification starts in October 2009 and continues through April 2010.

When will this change take place?

Educational institutions are required to report using the new race code categories for fall 2010. In order to report then, new students (for fall 2010) are now filling out the Common Application and are seeing the new, two-question, multiple response ethnicity and race questions.

Who do I talk to if I have further questions?

Please call either:
Linda Millstone
Associate Vice President for Institutional Equity & Workforce Diversity
Equal Opportunity Services
University of Texas at Austin
(512) 471-1849
Lincoln Holmes
Associate Director for Operations
Information Management & Analysis
University of Texas at Austin
(512) 471-8179

1 For individuals 18 and over, 1.9 percent (3,969,342 in the 2000 Census) of individuals reported more than one race; while 4 percent (2,856,886) of individuals under 18 reported more than one race.