Ventra U-Pass

Ventra U-Pass provides unlimited rides on the Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains for students who are enrolled full-time. This includes graduate students enrolled in an eligible thesis course. Undergraduates are considered full-time when enrolled for at least 12 credit hours, while graduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of 9 credit hours in the Fall and Spring semesters, 5 credit hours for the Summer semester, or enrolled in a thesis course.

Important Information about Ventra U-Pass

All full-time students will be charged a Ventra U-Pass fee of $153 per Fall and Spring semester, and $115 for the Summer term. The breakdown of the cost is below. 


Daily Rate Charged by the CTA Number of Days in the Semester Total Cost Charged by the CTA Columbia's Administrative Fee Total Cost for the Term
Fall  2019 $1.25 119 $148.75 $4.25 $153
Spring  2020 $1.25 119 $148.75 $4.25 $153
Summer 2020 $1.25 92 $115 $0 $115

When you are enrolled full-time at Columbia, your U-Pass will be loaded onto your card automatically each semester. 

Part-time students are ineligible for the Ventra U-Pass.

For more information about the U-Pass program, visit the Ventra Customer Service website

Important Dates for Ventra U-Pass

Fall 2019:
Activated on August 30, 2019   Deactivated on December 19, 2019

Spring 2020:
Activated on January 22, 2020   Deactivated on May 20, 2020

Fall 2019 Ventra U-Pass Distribution Information

U-Pass distribution takes place on August 30 and September 3 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

New Students

If you had your photo taken for your student ID card at an orientation session in June or July: you will receive an email prior to August 30 directing you to pick up your Ventra U-Pass at the Student Center, 754 S. Wabash Ave., on August 30 or September 3.

If you did not have your photo taken for your student ID card at a June or July orientation session: you may order a permanent Ventra U-Pass (and pick up a 7-day temporary pass) at 623 S. Wabash Ave. on August 30 or September 3. You may also obtain your ID card during these dates.  A permanent card will be delivered to the Campus Card office within seven days.

Beginning September 4, go to the Campus Card office (600 S. Michigan Ave., 3rd floor) for all Ventra U-Pass and ID card services. The Campus Card office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Returning Students

If you received a Ventra U-Pass during a prior semester and are registered full-time for the Fall 2019 semester: your Ventra U-Pass will be activated automatically on the activation date. If you are registered full-time after the activation date, please allow two business days for your card to be activated. 

If you are enrolling full-time for the first time and are now eligible for a Ventra U-Pass: you should attend the U-Pass distribution event at 623 S. Wabash Ave. on August 30 or September 3. Please bring your campus card. 

Things to Keep in Mind

You must have a valid Columbia ID to pick up your Ventra U-Pass card.

It is important to register your Ventra U-Pass card so your account balance is protected. If you don't register your card, you will lose unused balances on your account once your card expires, or if your card is lost or stolen. Registering your card also offers you easy account management options online, by phone, or via the Ventra App. 

Transfer Students who received a Ventra U-Pass at their previous school must bring their Ventra card to the U-Pass Distrubition event at 623 S. Wabash Ave. to have the U-Pass benefit transferred to Columbia College Chicago. Transfer students who have not received a Ventra U-Pass from a previous school should visit the U-Pass Distribution event.

If you drop below full-time enrollment during the add/drop period of the semester, the U-Pass Fee will be credited on your tuition account and you will not be eligible for the Ventra U-Pass, per the agreement between Columbia College Chicago and the CTA. An email will be sent to your Columbia email account notifying you of the deactivation. Please be sure you are prepared to cover your public transportation costs or make other transportation arrangements if you drop below full-time enrollment.


  • Adding Funds to your Ventra U-Pass

    You can still use your Ventra U-Pass when school is not in session or you do not qualify as a full-time student. Simply add full-fare passes or transit value to your Ventra U-Pass.

    To check your balance, visit the Ventra Chicago website.


  • Replacing your U-Pass

    The fee to replace a lost or stolen Ventra U-Pass is $50. You may order your replacement online, or bring in a cashier's check or money order to Columbia Central. If you lose your card more than once, Ventra may revoke your U-Pass privileges. For more information, visit the Ventra U-Pass website.

    When tapping your card on the card reader, be sure it is separate from all other debit, credit, or bank cards. The new card readers allow for the use of smart cards, so they can read and pull money from any smart card. It is important that the reader is only reading your Ventra U-Pass.

    If your card does not work after it has been activated, take it to the Ventra Customer Service Office at 567 W. Lake St. in Chicago. Ventra will determine if the card is damaged or defective and, if so, will issue you a Defective Card form and a temporary pass, and waive the $50 replacement fee. To request a new Ventra U-Pass, you must bring the Defective Card form to the Campus Card Office and allow a minimum of 7-10 business days for delivery.

    Replacing an Expiring U-Pass 

    U-Pass cards are valid for five years. To see if your card is expiring, check the expiration date printed on the back of the card. Once your card expires, it can no longer be use for transit, and a new card must be purchased or activated. 

    Continuing students: You will receive a notice to your Office 365 account. There is no charge to replace an expiring U-Pass.

    Former and graduating students: If your U-Pass is registered, you will receive emails alerting you to the upcoming expiration, letting you know how you can get your new Ventra card. 

    Visit the Ventra website for more information. 

  • Fixing a Negative Balance

    If you used your Ventra U-Pass after the U-Pass fare was deactivated at the end of the semester, but did not add funds to the Transit Account on the card, you may have a negative balance on your card and your U-Pass fare will not be activated until the negative balance is resolved with Ventra. You can check your balance online, or call Ventra at 877-669-8368.


Academic Dates and Deadlines