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.

Spring 2021 Ventra U-Pass Information

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on college campuses, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has announced that colleges may allow full-time students to decide if they want a U-Pass. This one-time courtesy will be in effect for the Spring 2021 term only.

Full-time students who want a U-Pass can sign the opt-in form here.

Columbia Central will activate U-Passes for the spring semester only for students who choose to opt in to the U-Pass program. Those who opt in will be charged the $153 U-Pass Fee on their spring semester billing. The spring U-Pass entitlement period begins January 20 and ends May 19.

Returning Students
If you received a U-Pass during a prior semester and are registered for the Spring 2021 semester, Columbia Central will email the U-Pass Spring 2021 Opt-In letter to your Columbia email beginning in early December. The letter contains a link to an electronic form that you must submit to activate your U-Pass entitlement for the spring semester. To ensure your U-Pass is activated by January 20, which is the first day of the spring U-Pass program, please submit the electronic form by January 15. You will receive a reply within five business days confirming your U-Pass activation. Please note, although you can opt-in to request a U-Pass before you are registered full-time, your U-Pass cannot be activated until you are registered full-time.

New Students
Freshmen, Transfer and New Graduate Students: The Admissions Office will email the U-Pass Spring 2021 Opt-In letter to your Columbia email in early December. The letter contains a link to an electronic form that you must submit to request your new Ventra U-Pass card for the spring semester. You will receive a reply within five business days confirming your U-Pass order. To ensure timely delivery of your U-Pass, you should submit your Campus Card photo and be registered full-time no later than January 8. For an optimal service experience, we recommend that you submit your photo and finalize your schedule as soon as possible. Your Campus Card photo will also be used on your U-Pass card.

How do I receive my U-Pass?
Columbia Central will send an email to your Columbia email account regarding the U-Pass pick up dates and location in January, prior to the start of the spring U-Pass program on January 20, 2021.

You must activate the card before you use it by calling Ventra at the phone number listed on the card sleeve, 877-450-5328.

Important Dates for Ventra U-Pass

Fall 2020:
Activated on September 3, 2020   Deactivated on December 24, 2020

Spring 2021:
Activated on January 20, 2021   Deactivated on May 19, 2021

Important Information about Ventra U-Pass

Full-time students who opt in to the fall U-Pass program will be charged the U-Pass Fee of $153 for the fall semester. 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  2020 $1.25 118 $147.50 $5.50 $153
Spring  2021 $1.25 120 $150.00 $3.00 $153
Summer 2021 $1.25 92 $115 $0 $115

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

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

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.

If you are enrolled in an off-campus program for the entire spring semester, including Semester in LA and Study Abroad, you are not charged the U-Pass Fee and your U-Pass will not be activated for the spring semester.
  • 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

    If you have questions or concerns regarding your U-Pass, please contact us at

    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