U-Pass over for part-time students

By SpencerRoush

College students will do anything for free stuff, whether it’s crashing a gallery opening for finger food, attending an otherwise lame event for free pizza or answering a couple of survey questions for gift certificates.

While these students are swarming the donut and pizza boxes for free grub, others are finding much better Columbia deals on the house. But they have to cheat the system to do it.

These sneaky Columbia students were just told via email that their U-Passes were deactivated as of April 8 because they had dropped down to part-time status.

Because of the Chicago Transit Authority’s deal with local colleges, only full-time students—12 credit hours or more—can receive a $90 unlimited train and bus pass for the semester’s duration.

Many students cheat the system by registering for full-time course loads and then dropping those extra classes during the add/drop grace period. After their course schedules are shed of those extra credit hours, students keep their U-Pass and don’t have to pay any more in tuition or attend those extra classes to do so.

Because Columbia and the CTA are slow on the switch to deactivate the cards, by the time everyone realizes that these students were actually part-time and didn’t qualify for the city’s generous collegiate fare program, those students have already used their cards for a couple of months. At least these students get some rides during the semester because part-time students spend a lot of time on campus for either student jobs or organizations. This means they would otherwise have to regularly ride public transit and pay full price for it.

For these part-time students, this makes for a great opportunity to save money. They register and receive a U-Pass under a fake schedule to use their CTA pass for two months, and they also don’t have to pay for it. If any student drops courses during that week grace period, the $90 charge is erased from his or her tuition bill.

Now these part-time students will have to bear the brunt of high-cost public transit and pay $2.25 per ride or $86 for a 30-day pass. That means they will have to pay almost the same amount for a 30-day pass as the $90 unlimited college pass pays for a semester’s worth.

While applauding these students for their sneaky but intelligent plan to avoid transportation costs may be careless or in poor taste, they were merely trying to reap the benefits from a broken system. All college students—regardless of their credit-hour schedule—should receive some sort of discount.

High school students, disabled people and senior citizens all receive discounts. What makes college students any different—other than they’re often more broke than some of the other discounted groups listed above? While the majority of high school students might get lunch money and/or an allowance from mom or dad, many college students are in search for free lunches by crashing gallery openings and finger-food events to save a little money.