Commuter Pre-Tax Transit & Parking Programs

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 StepsPDF


Benefits

The program offers the following benefits:

  • Easy online enrollment through the PayFlex portal (www.healthhub.com);
  • A single monthly deduction covering the total of all your transit deductions;
  • Monthly train and shuttle passes sent directly to your home;
  • Ability to enroll for pre-tax commuter parking benefits for parking at commuter train station parking lots;
  • No forms to complete and submit. Everything is done online.

Payroll Deduction

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. 


Commuter Parking Program

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:

  • Receive cash reimbursements for parking expenses
  • Receive commuter checks to pay parking expense

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.


Enrollment Instructions

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.


Creating an Account / Logging into HealthHub

  1. Navigate to HealthHub.com.
  2. Click Employee Account Login in the top right corner.
    1. If you currently have an account, log in using your ID and Password.
    2. If you do not have an account, click Register Now, enter your Member ID (your 7-digit Employee ID).  If asked for your Employer ID, enter 100398.  Complete your registration profile as instructed.
  3. In the My Dashboard menu on the left, choose Commuter Benefits.
  4. If this is your first time enrolling, you will be asked for your mailing address.  Click Add/Edit My Address, add your campus address, click Save My Address, and click Proceed to Site.

Enrollment - Purchasing Transit Passes

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.

  1. After logging in and choosing "Commuter Benefits" (see above), use the top menu to select Place an Order and Transit.
  2. Enter your Zip Code (home or work) and click Search.
  3. Click the radio button to the left of the provider for which you wish to purchase transit.
  4. Select a transit pass value and complete any options as required.
    1. Note: Ventra users must log in to their Ventra account at ventrachicago.com to find the Transit ID number; this is NOT the number on the Ventra card.
  5. If you would like your pass to be deducted monthly, select Yes to the appropriate question and choose the months for deduction.
  6. To add more items to your order, click the Continue Shopping button; to finish, click Checkout.
  7. You will be asked to agree that your order is correct.  Review all information and click Place Order.

Enrollment - Cash Reimbursements for Parking

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:

  1. After logging in to HealthHub and choosing "Commuter Benefits" (see above), use the top menu to select Place an Order and Parking.
  2. Click Enroll in Cash Reimbursement.
  3. Enter the Amount of pre-tax funds to set aside from your paycheck each month.
  4. If you would like this amount to be deducted monthly, select Yes to the appropriate question and choose the months for deduction.
  5. To add more items to your order, click the Continue Shopping button; to finish, click Checkout.
  6. You will be asked to agree that your order is correct.  Review all information and click Place Order.

Once you enroll, you can submit a request for reimbursement. Log in to HealthHub.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.


Enrollment - Commuter Checks for Parking

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.

  1. After logging in to HealthHub and choosing "Commuter Benefits" (see above), use the top menu to select Place an Order and Parking.
  2. Click Commuter Check for Parking.
  3. Using the search box and the map, find and select a parking provider that accepts commuter checks.
  4. Enter the Amount of pre-tax funds per check and the Quantity of checks to receive per deduction.
  5. If you would like this amount to be deducted monthly, select Yes to the appropriate question and choose the months for deduction.
  6. To add more items to your order, click the Continue Shopping button; to finish, click Checkout.
  7. You will be asked to agree that your order is correct.  Review all information and click Place Order.

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.