To help lower the cost of public transit and parking for those who commute to work at the University, Northwestern deducts University parking fees and transit expenses from benefits-eligible employees' gross pay before calculating taxes.
Paying transit expenses with pre-tax dollars lowers the cost of public transportation. How much lower depends on the individual's marginal federal income tax rate (the rate at which the last dollar of taxable income is taxed), which is affected by exemptions, filing status, family income, and possibly other items. The tax savings usually lower the cost by 10-39%.
The University has partnered with PayFlex, a major processor of pre-tax employee benefits, to administer our Commuter Transit and Parking programs (the campus parking programs administered by the Evanston Parking Office and by University Services for the Chicago Campus are not included). PayFlex also administers the University Flexible Spending and Health Savings Account programs.
Q & A: For answers to additional questions regarding this new program, please see our Questions & Answers page.
Enrollment: To enroll, see the steps below or view the complete guide, Enrolling in Commuter Benefits Quick Steps.
The program offers the following benefits:
Your transit/parking deduction will be taken out of your monthly or second biweekly paycheck.
You must enroll in the program or make any changes to existing deductions by the 5th of the month in which the deduction is to be taken, for transit use beginning in the month following your deduction. Any new enrollments/changes entered after the 5th will take effect one month later.
A new feature made available with our partnership with PayFlex is the introduction of a Commuter Parking Benefit program. This program allows employees who pay for parking at Metra or CTA commuter parking lots to take advantage of pre-tax deductions. Employees have several options for paying for their commuter parking benefit:
NOTE: This program is not used to pay for campus parking administered through the Evanston Parking Office or by University Services for the Chicago Campus. There are no changes to how the University parking program is being administered.
You can order a transit pass or add funds to a fare card online. When you order a pass, the transit authority will mail it to your home; you’ll receive it before the first day of the benefit month. If you use a fare card, you must first buy it from your transit authority. Then you can load money to it online.
If you are loading CTA or Pace funds onto a Ventra card, you must first obtain the Ventra card and activate it online at www.ventrachicago.com.
If you pay for your parking with a personal credit card, cash or check, you can still get reimbursed. First, you need to enroll in the Cash Reimbursement option online:
Once you enroll, you can submit a request for reimbursement. Log in to www.payflex.com and choose "Commuter Benefits." Then select the Claims option from the top menu and follow the on-screen instructions to submit a claim online or via fax.
You can pay for your work-related parking expenses with Commuter Checks. These are vouchers that you simply use to pay for your parking expenses. You buy your Commuter Checks online and PayFlex will send them to you. Once you receive them you can use them to buy one or more types of parking. You may use more than one check at a time. Note: Be sure to spend the checks as you need them. You will not receive change if the check amount is more than what you’re buying. The checks are only valid for one year. Look for the expiration date on the top of the check.
NOTE: Your Commuter Checks are made payable directly to the parking provider you selected, and they will be mailed to your home address on file in FASIS. Ensure your address is correct by logging into the Self Service Portal.