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

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has announced that the cost of a Ventra U-Pass will increase for 2018-19. Effective with the Fall 2018 semester, 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
Spring 2019 $1.25 119 $148.75 $4.25 $153
Summer 2019 $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

Spring 2019:
Activated on January 17, 2019   Deactivated on May 14, 2019

Summer 2019:
Activated on May 15, 2019  Deactivated on August 15, 2019

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

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

Spring 2019 Ventra U-Pass Distribution Information

You can pick up your U-Pass January 17-18, 2019, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

After January 18, you must go to the Campus Card Office (600 S. Michigan Ave., 3rd Floor). Campus card offices are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

Things to Keep in Mind

All students: 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.

New Freshmen Students who are registered full-time and are receiving a Ventra U-Pass card for the first time will need to order a Ventra U-Pass at the U-Pass Distribution event. Ventra U-Pass orders will not be available for same day pick up and require a minimum of 7 business days for delivery to the Campus Card Office. Temporary passes will be provided to students when their Ventra U-Pass order is confirmed in person.

Returning Students who already received a Ventra U-Pass during a prior semester and who are registered full time for subsequent semesters can see the activation dates above. If you registered after the activation date, contact the Campus Card Office to confirm your full time status and your card activation. Allow 1 business day for your card to be activated.

Returning Students who have enrolled full time for the first time and are now eligible for a Ventra U-Pass must attend the U-Pass Distribution event. Ventra U-Pass orders will not be available for same day pick up and require a minimum of 7 business days for delivery to the Campus Card Office. Temporary passes will be provided to students when their Ventra U-Pass order is confirmed in person.

Transfer Students who received a Ventra U-Pass at their previous school must bring their Ventra card to the U-Pass Distrubition event 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 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 the SFS office. 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 Loopmail 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.


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