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MBTA Semester Pass Program

Eligible PhD students at the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences can apply their transportation stipends toward the purchase of a semester MBTA local bus, link (bus and subway), or commuter rail passes (all zones) at an 11 percent discount off the full retail price (up to $391 per term).


Beginning July 1, 2024, Harvard Griffin PhD students whose Notice of Financial Support includes a transportation stipend will receive two equal installments of $391 on September 1 and February 1 as part of their funding packages. Eligible students may direct the transportation stipend toward their preferred commuting method, including toward purchasing an MBTA semester pass at an 11 percent discount off the full price. 

Harvard Griffin GSAS master's students and non-funded PhD students who purchase MBTA semester passes will continue to be reimbursed 50 percent of the cost, up to $391.00 per term. The Office of Student Success works with the vendor Edenred to process discounted MBTA Semester Pass orders. Students are responsible for pursuing other transportation options on their own. 

Harvard Griffin GSAS students who receive a transportation stipend are responsible for calculating the costs associated with their individual commute and choosing the transportation method that makes the most sense for them financially. Students are not required to use their stipends to purchase a discounted MBTA Semester Pass and may instead choose to apply their stipend to a pay-per-ride CharlieCard, to bike costs associated with commuting, or to another means of transportation. See the University’s transportation site for information on biking.   

Harvard Griffin GSAS allows one MBTA Semester Pass order per student per term, and you must be currently enrolled at the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to qualify for a pass. Students can order a five-month (January through May) or four-month (February through May) pass for the spring term and a four-month (September through December) pass for the fall term. Orders for Fall 2024 must be placed between July 9 and August 8 at the order link on the GSAS MBTA info page; eligible PhD students will receive the first half of their transportation subsidy via a stipend on September 1. Master’s degree students will receive a term bill credit at the appropriate discounted rate on September 1. 


Semester Pass Program FAQs

  1. Can I buy single-month MBTA passes through the Semester Pass Program? 
    1. The MBTA Semester Pass Program offers passes for either four or five consecutive months at an 11 percent discount. Students are charged for the entire amount and cannot opt in or out of coverage during the term. PhD students can, however, opt to apply their transportation stipends to a single-month MBTA pass, a pay-per-ride CharlieCard, or any means of transportation that best suits their needs. These alternative options are not part of the MBTA pass discount program and are available directly from the MBTA
  2. Why don’t eligible PhD students receive a 50 percent discount on MBTA passes? 
    1. Beginning July 1, 2024, eligible Harvard Griffin GSAS PhD students will receive a more substantial funding package, which includes a new transportation stipend of $782 per year ($391 at the start of each term) that students can direct toward the transportation option that best suits their needs. Because of this increased stipend and transportation allowance, funded PhD students are no longer eligible for the 50 percent MBTA Semester Pass discount subsidized by Harvard Griffin GSAS but are still able to purchase Semester Passes at an 11 percent discount.  
  3. The order window for fall 2024 MBTA Semester Passes is July 9 through August 8, but I don’t receive my transportation stipend until September 1. Can I defer payment until I receive my stipend?
    1. No. Payment for the MBTA Semester Pass is due at sign up.  
  4. How do I know if I should purchase a Semester Pass or a different MBTA pass? Is the Semester Pass Program a good deal for me? 
    1. Each student is responsible for calculating whether the MBTA Semester Pass Program is cost-effective for them. Students should consider how often they travel to campus and what means of transportation they use for their commute. For example, a student who takes the T (subway) to and from campus three times a week will spend $14.40 (6 x $2.40) per week, which is approximately $230.00 per semester ($14.40 per week for 16 weeks). For this student, the pay-per-ride CharlieCard is more affordable than the $320.00 four-month pass. Students should consider how often they will use their transportation pass and the expenses associated with their individual commute before deciding to purchase an MBTA Semester Pass. 

Pass Pricing

Four-Month Pass Pricing (September–December)

Prices reflect changes to the Harvard Griffin GSAS graduate student stipend and tuition structure effective July 1, 2024. 

Pass Type 

Full Fare Cost 

Four-Month Pass 

Discounted Four-Month Pass 

Student Pays 

Local Bus: $220.00 $192.00 
Link Pass (local bus and subway): $360.00 $320.00 
Inner Express Bus: $544.00 $484.00 
Zone 1A: $360.00 $320.00 
Zone 1: $856.00 $760.00 
Zone 2: $928.00 $824.00 
Zone 3: $1,044.00 $928.00 
Zone 4: $1,124.00 $1,000.00 
Zone 5: $1,244.00 $1,104.00 
Zone 6: $1,360.00 $1,208.00 
Zone 7: $1,440.00 $1,280.00 
Zone 8: $1,552.00 $1380.00 
Zone 9: $1,624.00 $812.00 
Zone 10: $1,704.00 $1,516.00 

Five-Month Pass Pricing (Jan–May) 

Pass Type 

Full Fare Cost 

Five-Month Pass 

Discounted Five-Month Pass 

Student Pays 

Local Bus: $275.00 $240.00 
Link Pass (local bus and subway): $450.00 $400.00 
Inner Express Bus: $680.00 $605.00 
Zone 1A: $450.00 $400.00 
Zone 1: $1,070.00 $950.00 
Zone 2: $1,160.00 $1,030.00 
Zone 3: $1,305.00 $1,160.00 
Zone 4: $1,405.00 $1,250.00 
Zone 5: $1,555.00 $1,380.00 
Zone 6: $1,700.00 $1,510.00 
Zone 7: $1,800.00 $1,600.00 
Zone 8: $1,940.00 $1,725.00 
Zone 9: $2,030.00 $1,805.00 
Zone 10: $2,130.00 $1,895.00 

Reimbursement Policy

Ordinarily, Harvard Griffin GSAS does not issue refunds or reimbursements for MBTA passes purchased through the Harvard Griffin GSAS MBTA Pass Program. The only exception is the allowance of partial refunds due to USPS delivery issues beyond student control.   

If it is after the first day of the month that your MBTA pass is set to begin, please first reach out to Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions as soon as possible (phone: 800-531-2828) to inquire about the status of your delivery and tracking if available. It is the responsibility of the students to reach out to Edenred if their pass did not arrive.  

You may be eligible for a reimbursement if you incurred out-of-pocket MBTA expenses after you have reached out to Edenred. To request a refund, you must email and: 

  • Provide proof of the email communication sent to Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions inquiring about the status of your pass delivery or requesting the shipment of a new pass. 
  • Provide copies of receipts for out-of-pocket transportation expenses spent after the communication while waiting for the new pass to arrive. Acceptable documentation includes photos of receipts or screenshots of MBTA payments from credit card/debit card statement(s). If you are paying in cash, you will need to purchase a card or pass at an MBTA station with kiosks so you can receive a printed copy of the payment receipt.  

Please note: Only MBTA public transit expenses are refundable. Rideshare apps, gas and mileage on a personal vehicle, blue bikes, and/or electric scooter expenses are not eligible for refund. The maximum refund amount is 25 percent of the original amount paid for the MBTA pass purchased through the Semester Pass Program. If you experience extended delivery issues, please work with Edenred to have the pass shipped to an alternative address. You can also connect with the Office of Student Affairs to request the pass be shipped to the Smith Campus Center, Suite 350, Harvard Griffin GSAS Office, to the ATTN of the Student Affairs team. 

Refunds will NOT be issued: 

  • If the address submitted on the order form by the student was incorrect due to user error or has changed but was not updated by the student. You may update your address by following these instructions and can work directly with Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions to update your mailing address to have the pass reshipped.
  • If the pass was delivered to the local USPS post office and is awaiting pickup (Commuter rail passes are sent via priority mail, which requires a signature. If you are not home to receive the package, it will be delivered to a local post office for you to pick up). 
  • For expenses other than those associated with MBTA (bus, train, commuter rail).
  • For the full amount of the pass. Edenred is able to work with you to ensure the pass you purchased will be delivered. 

Refund processing is not immediate and may take up to one month after submitting your documentation. Refunds will be made through the Buy2Pay and will be mailed as a check to the address indicated. Refunds cannot be issued to your credit card or direct deposit. The deadline to request partial reimbursement is the last day of classes for the semester in which your pass was purchased. 


Issues with the delivery of your MBTA pass?  

Edenred Commuter Benefit Solutions
Phone: 800-531-2828 (Please indicate you are calling about a Harvard Griffin GSAS semester pass order.)

Questions about the MBTA Semester Pass Program?

Office of Student Success

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