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NLU CTA Ventra U-Pass Program FAQs

NLU's U-Pass program partnered with CTA's Ventra system offers the below features:

  • Issued once every 5 years.  You keep your card and your U-Pass will be turned on and off based on your enrollment at the University.
  • Works as a regular transit card between terms. The Ventra card has the ability to work as a regular declining balance transit card between terms over winter and summer break.
  • Is a regular transit card on PACE suburban bus routes year round.**
  • Lost, stolen, or damaged U-Passes are replaced at NLU. Students can go to the 6th floor Student Center on the Chicago campus and order a replacement card. There is still a $50.00 replacement fee, payable to NLU at the time the request is made.

*If a pass is lost, stolen, or damaged at any time during the 5-year period, there is a $50.00 replacement fee.

** Pace is not part of the U-Pass discount. Students pay the full fare on all PACE bus routes.

What is the Ventra U-Pass?

The Ventra U-Pass provides low cost transportation to students in the Chicago metropolitan area by providing unlimited rides on CTA buses and trains. It's your connection to shopping, sports events, social activities, art and entertainment centers, and all the Chicago hot spots. For more information, go to

Who receives the Ventra U-Pass?

All undergraduate full-time students (12 quarter hours or more) taking 8 or more credits on the Chicago campus, and all master's full-time students (6 quarter hours or more) taking 6 or more credits on the Chicago campus, will be charged the non-refundable Ventra U-Pass fee. Part-time students and students who take classes on other campuses are NOT eligible for the Ventra U-Pass nor are they assessed the Ventra U-Pass fee. This is NLU's policy based on the agreement with the CTA.

When is the Ventra U-Pass active?

The Ventra U-Pass is active beginning the first day of each academic term, and provides unlimited rides on CTA for approximately 3 months.  Upcoming U-Pass dates are:  

Fall 2020 Sept. 21 - Dec. 13
Winter 2021 Jan. 11 - Apr. 4
Spring 2020 Apr.  6 - Jun. 28
Summer 2020
Jul. 6 -  Sept. 13

How do I register for a Ventra U-Pass?

If you have not participated in the transit program at NLU previously, and are an eligible student, you will need to have your picture taken at the Chicago campus, 6th floor Student Center Desk, beginning one week prior to the start of each term. Once you have your picture taken, your Ventra U-Pass will be available approximately 7-10 business days later for pick up on the Chicago campus, 6th floor Student Center Desk.  We are open for photos and U-Pass Pick-Up:


Monday - Thursday 8am - 8pm
Friday 8am - 5pm
Saturday  9am - 1pm


What will I need to pick up a Ventra U-Pass?

You must have a photo ID and your NLU student ID number to pick up your Ventra U-Pass.

I had a Ventra U-Pass last term, will I get a pre-printed pass?

No, your existing Ventra card will be reactivated each term that you are eligible for the U-Pass.  See the active dates above for when your U-Pass will be active.  Between terms, you can add money to your account to use the same Ventra card as a regular transit card.

What is the charge for the Ventra U-Pass?

The U-Pass fee is $120 for Fall, Winter, and Spring, $90 in Summer. There is no pro-rating of the U-Pass fee, so we recommend that you pick it up early in the quarter. This fee is also non-refundable.

How do I pay for the Ventra U-Pass?

The non-refundable $120 U-Pass fee will be billed to your student account if you are a full-time, Chicago based student. All full-time students, registered taking most of their courses on the Chicago campus will be billed the U-Pass fee. Undergraduate full-time students (12 quarter hours or more) taking 8 or more credits on the Chicago campus, and Master's full time (6 quarter hours or more) students taking 6 or more credits on the Chicago campus will be charged the non-refundable Ventra U-Pass fee. You will be charged whether you pick up the Ventra U-Pass or not. Because it may not be billed prior to Financial Aid packages being applied, you may owe the University an additional $120.

What if I don't want or can't use the Ventra U-Pass?  Can I get a refund?

While we understand that some of our Chicago campus students might have other commuting arrangements, NLU is an urban metropolitan university and therefore has fees associated with being a student in the city.  All eligible full-time students will be assessed the U-Pass fee. Students with a military transit pass or with disabilities may be eligible for a waiver.  Contact at the beginning of the term for more information.

My Ventra U-Pass was lost or stolen, what do I do?

Bring your student ID, a photo ID, and $50 (cash, credit, check, or money order) to the Chicago campus and we will order you a new card. A card takes approximately 7 business days to arrive, and then will be available for pick up. Only one replacement pass will be provided per academic school year.

My U-Pass stopped working, what do I do?

Please review the requirements above, as you must be full-time for your U-Pass to automatically activate with a new term. If you've dropped below full-time, or are not taking the minimum on-campus classes, your U-Pass will not be activated. You can go to the Ventra website to check the balance on your card to determine if the U-Pass is loaded. You will see U-Pass listed if your account is loaded with the U-Pass. 

If you think your card is defective, you must take your card to the Ventra to test the functionality of the card. They are located at 567 West Lake.

Incurring a negative balance will also cause the card to deactivate. It's important you load the card with funds between terms to prevent a negative balance.

If you cannot determine why your card is not working, please stop by the 6th floor Student Center desk at the Chicago campus or call us at 312-261-3568, or email

Can I lend my Ventra U-Pass to someone else or sell it?

No, the CTA Ventra U-Pass is personalized with your photo and a special CTA ID number. The Ventra U-Pass is not transferable and will be confiscated by the CTA if it is misused. CTA maintains the right to inspect your Ventra U-Pass and or ask for another form of identification. The University also reserves the right to bring charges against the student for violation of the Standards of Conduct detailed in the Student Guidebook.

Does my Ventra U-Pass work on Metra or Pace?

Unfortunately, no.  The Ventra U-Pass is only good for trains and buses operated by CTA.  Metra and Pace don't currently offer discounts to college and university students. Students may use the Ventra card as a standard transit card on Pace buses only. Pace is not part of the U-Pass discount. Students pay the full fare on all PACE bus routes, Ventra allows you to pre-load with funds for use between terms and on Pace buses.

Where can I get directions or more information on CTA?

Get travel information and directions online or by calling the RTA Travel Center at 836.7000 from any area code (TTY: 312.836.4949). Operators are available daily from 5–1am. They can also send you a CTA System Map, Downtown Sightseeing Guide or schedules. CTA Maps and Downtown Sightseeing Guides are also available at CTA train stations.



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