Off Campus Living

Light Rail

Live At Home

Welcome Commuter Students! Commuter Students are those students that attend the University of Minnesota but do not reside in University housing. Whether you commute one block or 25 miles, commuter students are valued members of the University of Minnesota campus community!

A common fear of commuting students (and their families) is that living off-campus is a disadvantage. Balancing school, work, and family life can oftentimes be a challenge but Off-Campus Living is here to help you become and stay connected to the campus community.

Campus Connector

Getting to Campus

Driving To Campus:

Watch this video to learn about how to driving to campus!

Student Contract Parking

Student Contract Parking Link

Full-time student parking contracts are available each semester through an online lottery. Students may enter the lottery each semester, but entering does not guarantee a parking contract. Contracts are good for one semester only. You must re-enter the lottery for each semester. Locations vary but always include spaces on each campus.

Contract Features

  • Access to your assigned facility 24/7. (At most locations. Contract holders without 24/7 access in their assigned facility are provided with evening and weekend access at a nearby location.)
  • Unlimited entry and exit.
  • Easy convenient payment through the student accounts receivable (SAR) system.

Applying for a Contract

Go to the UMN Parking and Transportation site to fill out an application for contract parking. Here are some important dates to be aware of:

  • Spring Semester 2019: October 9-November 19 (midnight)
  • Summer 2019: no lottery; passes go on sale on Monday, May 5th

Didn’t Get a Contract?

Have no fear! During fall and spring semester, contract space is always available in the State Fairgrounds lot for commuter students (this can be conveniently purchased through the lottery or by coming into the PTS office). If you are a student living in an apartment complex across the street from campus or living in an apartment 30 miles away, you are a commuter student. Note: the State Fairgrounds lot is NOT available during the summer.

Daily Parking

If you do not want to get a contract, but still need to drive to school, there are many daily parking options available:

For more information, refer to the UMN Parking and Transportation site.


Want to save money and carpool! Check out Gopher Rideshare to find a carpool!


For real-time information on current traffic, refer to this traffic map from the MN DoT.

ParkMe App

ParkMe displays real time parking data, including rates, hours of operation, payment types, real time occupancy information, locations of lot and garage entrances and more.

Users can access ParkMe via GPS, car navigation systems, online widgets, and as well as through iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android apps.

ParkMe Image

Parking in residential areas

If parking in residential areas and commuting a short ways to campus is interesting to you, remember the rules of parking on an unsigned street:

  • Too close to a stop sign or Traffic Signal - vehicles are not allowed to park within 30 feet of the approach side of a stop sign or traffic signal unless otherwise indicated by a parking meter or traffic sign.
  • Blocked driveway - vehicles are not allowed to park within 5 feet of a private road, driveway, or alley.
  • Blocked fire hydrant - vehicles are not allowed to stop, stand or park within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or traffic control agent.
  • Railroad Crossing – vehicles are not allowed to park within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing.

On a sidewalk - vehicles are not allowed to stop on sidewalks, sidewalk crossings or boulevards.

Public Transportation:

Watch this video to learn about how to use public transit to commute to campus!

Universal Transit Pass

The University has paired up with Metro Transit to offer students a huge discount on public transportation! When you pay your transportation and safety fee (part of your student services fees when you are registered for classes), part of your transportation fee covers the cost of your Universal Transit Pass. Once you activate your U card, you have access to unlimited rides on all regular route buses and the light rail, 24/7 during the semester.

  • Northstar #888 may have an supplemental fare on top of your Universal Transit Pass.

For more information, go to the Parking & Transportation Website

Metro Transit Trip Planner

To find the fastest trip from where you are commuting to campus, use the Metro Transit Trip Planner on the Metro Transit website.

Transit App

Download the Transit app to help you navigate your public transportation options around the Twin Cities.

Guaranteed Ride Home Program

Getting the Transit Pass also qualifies you for the Guaranteed Ride Home Program, which is a program that allows you to get a reimbursed ride home if you have an emergency or have to stay on campus late. For more information on how to sign up, visit the Metro Transit website.

Gopher Chauffeur

Gopher Chauffeur is a free ride system through Boynton Health that will give you a ride home if you live on or near campus or Uptown Minneapolis. Gopher Chauffeur operates on Sunday to Wednesdays from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am and on Thursdays to Saturdays from 10:00 pm to 2:30 am. To schedule a pick-up, download the ‘Transloc’ app on your iOS or Android device and select ‘Gopher Chauffeur'. Enter your location and destination and set up your account. Then book your ride.

While intended to provide students an alternative to driving under the influence, this has become a great safety option for any need a student may have for getting to and from nearby locations.

FYI, Gopher Chauffeur does not run over breaks.


Watch this video on how to use Metro Transit bus:

  • Fares for Metro Transit regular route busses can range from $2.00 to $2.50, depending if it is rush hour or not, but your Universal Transit Pass covers the cost.
  • Fares for Metro Transit express busses can range from $2.50 to $3.25, but your Universal Transit Pass covers the cost.
  • There are other bus services that are not Metro Transit that go directly to campus that you can use depending on where you are commuting from. These services include: Maple Grove Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, Plymouth Metrolink, and SouthWest Transit. They also accept the Universal Transit Pass.

For more information, visit the UMN Parking and Transportation website.

Light Rail

There are two different main light rail lines, the blue line and the green line.

  • The blue line goes from Target Field to Mall of America
  • The green line goes from Target Field to Union Depot

The light rail stops to campus are along the green line.

  • The stops for the University are called “West Bank,” “East Bank,” and “Stadium Village.”

Northstar Commuter Rail Line

The Northstar Train brings commuters from the northern suburbs to downtown. The train goes from Big Lake to Target Field, and stops along the way are Elk River, Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids, and Fridley. Check route #888 on the Metro Transit website for schedules. This route will incur a small supplemental fare on top of the Universal Transit Pass, fyi.


Watch this video to learn more about biking to campus!

If you want to bring your bike to campus while also needing to take public transportation, you can! All modes of transportation through Metro Transit have ways to bring your bike along for the ride.

Remember to be safe while biking! Wear a helmet, use headlights, walk your bike on sidewalks, and use bike lanes on the road.

U of M Bike Center

If you bike straight to campus, there are many bike racks around campus, by almost every building. There is also a wonderful program at the U of M Bike Center. For a yearly $40 membership you can have 24/7 access to secure bike parking and showers/changing facilities. Check out the Parking and Transportation site for more information.

U of M ZAP Program

Students that participate in the ZAP Program can receive gift cards just for riding their bikes. Find more information here

Nice Ride

If you need to use a bike for only a short amount of time and you don’t want to bring one to campus, Nice Ride MN has multiple locations where you can rent a bike.

Walking Around Campus:

Walking Guide

Walking around campus is a great way to get from class to class. Take a look at the UMN Walking Guidefor estimated walk times and safety tips!

Gopher Way

During the winter months, stay warm by utilizing the Gopher Way. The Gopher Way is a system of tunnels and skyways that connect many of the buildings on campus. See here for a map of the Gopher Way System.

624-WALK program

Walking alone? The UMN offers trained security monitors, available 24/7, to walk (or bike) with you! Just call 612-624-WALK (4-9255 from any campus phone) or use the Safewalk request page. Visit the Public Safety webpage to see the walk boundaries.

Students Outside

Getting Involved

Build Community

Join Gopher Hall! Gopher Hall is a virtual community that is exclusive to students living off-campus. By joining Gopher Hall, you will be able to connect with other off-campus students and have access to resources and program opportunities throughout the year. Want to join? Follow us on Instagram under UMNCommuterCentral and join Gopher Hall on
Facebook: UMN Gopher Hall

Get Involved

Although it can be tough to find time outside of school, work, and family, getting involved on-campus is a great way to meet new people and enhance your experience at the University of Minnesota.

We have an active, dynamic group on Discord and host virtual programs there as well! Come join us!

Meet Other Commuters

Check out the Commuter Connection and enjoy programs and services like a microwave, refrigerator, lounge space, networking opportunities, desktop computers, and more. It is open to all off-campus students!

Location: Memorial Union, Room 204


Phone: 612-624-5491

Facebook: University of Minnesota Commuter Connection