The Process of Opting Out of the U-Pass Fee is Unfair
The KSA’s long process of opting out of the U-Pass is more frustrating than it should be
Opinions / November 8, 2019
Every semester, KPU students have to pay a fee with their tuition of $51 per month per semester for the KSA U-Pass BC program. The U-Pass is offered to all post-secondary schools in Metro Vancouver provided by TransLink. This program gives commuters access to discounted transit.
However, drivers, like me, do not need to use transit to get to school every day. Considering how much money I have to save for gas, parking and car insurance, the extra $51 per month is a waste considering I never take transit. So, what do drivers have to do to avoid the extra tuition fee?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to avoid paying the fee altogether. There are two ways you can opt-out of the U-Pass fee, but this requires engaging in a lengthy, paperwork-filled process.
First, KPU has a MultiPass Exemption Application available on its website every semester. Students are eligible to opt out if they already have a U-Pass from another school, a transit pass from somewhere else, or a disability that prevents them from using TransLink.
The second opt-out method is applying for the KSA’s MultiPass Hardship Bursary. The application is available on the KSA website and must be filled out, printed, and sent as a hardcopy to the KSA office before the posted deadline. This document requires you to identify whether your cause for opting out is financial hardship or personal obligation. I use the hardship bursary because, unlike the MultiPass exemption, it allows for personal reasons for needing to opt-out of the U-Pass.
However, the hardship bursary also requires additional documentation to prove that your personal or financial reasons are valid. You must have a printed copy of your MultiPass eligibility page available on your KPU online self-service profile, as well as an explanation for your family obligation or personal motivation and any copies of relevant child care receipts or medical forms.
This is a lot to process and have ready before the application deadline. If you do not have at least one of these required forms, you are not likely to get accepted for the hardship bursary. I have to do this at the beginning of each semester, as the KSA will not keep me opted-out for the entire school year.
I do have a personal obligation for needing my car as I have a sister with a mental disability who may need care right away. Despite this, I have to provide proof that my sister is handicapped and a signed form from my mother explaining why I would never need transit.
Once I have paid my tuition fees, I can then fill out the hardship bursary form and send it in, but not every student who hands in the application will receive the money back. So far, I have not been denied permission to opt-out because I continually send in the same forms every semester.
Even if you do qualify, you have to pay for the U-Pass fee and do not receive payment back until the end of the semester via mail. It is an endless cycle of paying the fee, filling the application, receiving the money back, and starting all over again for the new semester.
I understand that there are many students who need the U-Pass, and I am sure it helps them greatly when they have to take transit constantly.
But I have to have my car for specific family obligations. Even for drivers with different reasons, there should be a simpler and easier way to just say, “I have a car. I will not ever need to use the U-Pass.”