College Station hits the 100,000 mark!

coollogo_com-19224769The City of College Station’s population estimate has finally hit the 100,000 mark! We reached 100,046 in January, based on recently issued Certificates of Occupancy. We’d been within 300 of the milestone since September.

What exactly does this mean?

Before we get into the implications of hitting 100K, allow me to describe how I develop the population estimate each month and to explain the difference between inhabitants and population.

At the first of every month, I review full Certificates of Occupancy (COs) and demolitions for residential structures that were issued for the prior month. Residential structures are broken down into various categories ranging from single-family dwellings to apartments. By adding up the number of new units, subtracting the number of demolitions, and multiplying that total by the average household size as reported by the Census Bureau (2.38), the population estimate is created.

In simple terms, I use a little Microsoft Excel and Census magic.

Keep in mind that the monthly population number is strictly an estimate because structures with Temporary COs (TCOs) are not included. TCOs can be issued when the building is ready for occupancy but there are minor non life-safety issues that still need to be addressed.

So what’s the difference between population and inhabitants?

The Census Bureau conducts a population count every 10 years, the most recent being in 2010 when College Station had an official population of 93,857. Our estimated population of 100,064 in January is actually our count of city inhabitantsBased on state statutes, cities can make decisions driven by population numbers when their estimated number of inhabitants reaches 100,000 (a number created by the city) or when the Census provides the official count every 10 years.  Because the monthly population estimates are only estimates, it’s not an official count in the eyes of the Census Bureau or state statutes.

Bottom line: Census Bureau counts population; city estimates inhabitants   

Based on this terminology, the city may use its discretion to make the following decisions based on the inhabitant count, or it can wait until the 2020 Census for the official population count:

  • Extension of the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) The City of College Station’s ETJ currently extends 3 ½ miles outside the city limit boundary. With an estimated population of 100,000, the City Council could extend the ETJ to 5 miles outside the city limits. Councils aren’t required to take this step, but they may choose to do so. State law allows cities to enforce subdivision regulations in the ETJ, which ensures that maintenance for substandard infrastructure will not be assumed. Extending the ETJ also provides the city with land that we alone can annex.
  • Financial disclosure requirements for public officials This provision requires public officials such as the mayor, city council members, city attorney, city manager, and each candidate for city office to file an annual financial statement. That requirement doesn’t kick in until the Census officially puts College Station’s population above 100,000, so it’s at least six years away.

Aside from the legal implications of reaching the 100,000 milestone, some exciting changes could occur in our local economy. College Station’s population estimate is attractive to retailers and restaurateurs because cities with populations over 100,000 can provide a solid, promising consumer base. That means we could attract popular businesses that typically cater to larger cities.

We’re also one of only 33 Texas cities – and about 300 in the United States – with more than 100,000 people.

If you have any questions about the city population’s growth of demographics, please email me at

PODCAST: Morgan shares additional information about how and why she estimates College Station’s population:

Morgan Hester
Morgan Hester | Staff Planner

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