UConn and state officials have reached an agreement in which UConn is returning a portion of students’ U-Pass fees to them for the current fiscal year, reflecting the Board of Trustees’ pledge to explore potential cost reductions and pass them along to students.
For Storrs students who were enrolled in fall 2022 and returning for spring semester, reductions in the 2022-23 academic year’s U-Pass cost are reflected in a $48 decrease on spring fee bills and explained with the notation, “Transit fee reduced.”
Regional campus students are receiving a $24 credit for their fall 2022 transit fee — which they will see applied towards their current spring fee bill — and are not being charged the $24 transit fee for the upcoming spring semester.
Students who were enrolled only in the fall 2022 semester will receive a $24 reimbursement.
The U-Pass allows students at UConn and other participating schools to ride most public bus lines without charge — plus the Metro North, Shore Line East, and Hartford Line commuter rail services – as long as they show the pass and their student identification.
The U-Pass cost comprises $40 per semester of the $89-per-semester Storrs transit fee, which also funds on-campus buses at Storrs, accessible van service, shuttle buses at the regional campuses, and related expenses.
However, several trustees and students have asked if the U-Pass fee could be temporarily reduced because the state – having received federal grants – has provided fare-free bus services statewide starting last spring and continuing through March 31.
UConn did not receive a portion of those federal grants, and trustees felt strongly that the University should talk with state officials about reducing the U-Pass cost so students weren’t paying for bus services that others were receiving free.
The state agreed to lower the U-Pass fee per student, giving UConn the latitude to provide the $24-per-semester credits and partial refunds in the current budget year without affecting the students’ access to those transportation services.
The remaining amount charged for the U-Pass as part of the fall 2022 and spring 2023 transit fees cover the use of the commuter rail services, which are not free statewide despite the temporary hiatus on bus fares.
The move follows the board’s unanimous vote in December on fees, which specifically included a provision to adjust the 2022-23 transit fee if the state’s U-Pass program provided the cost savings.
“To the extent we can find costs that we can squeeze out where it’s associated with a fee, I’d like to see that revert back to our students and not into our overall budget. I think that’s the right thing to do,” board Chairman Dan Toscano ’87 (BUS) said at the meeting.
This is the second time that UConn has reimbursed students to ensure that its fees are strictly aligned with the services for which they are charged.
The first time was in spring 2020, when the COVID pandemic required the University to move to remote operations and almost all students had to leave the residence halls, prompting refunds of unused housing and dining benefits.
The action does not affect transit fee rates for the 2023-24 academic year, which begins July 1.