Reduce your commuting expenses for work-related transit and parking expenses by using pre-tax money for these items.
Optum Financial administers the commuter benefits for American University. Please make your election by the 10th of the month
- In 2023, you may allocate up to $300 per month, pre-tax, for Metro, VRE, MARC train fares. You may allocate up to $300 per month, pre-tax, for parking at WMATA Park and Ride locations. You can also use your commuter allocations for vanpools, and ride-sharing services such as Lyft Line and uberPOOL.
- Please keep in mind that you must place your commuter order by the 10th of each month for the following month.
- You can set your order to recur monthly, and it will repeat automatically each month, or you can designate, in advance, which months you wish to receive your commuter benefits.
Faculty and staff parking at AU
Parking at American University is available as a pre-tax benefit for full-time faculty and staff for $126 per month via payroll deduction. Visit American University Parking and Commuter Services for more information.
Pay by Phone
AU Community members are eligible for a self-park discount code. The code offers a location code for a discounted $0.75/hour rate (plus $0.35 service fee) to park in all general parking areas on campus through the PayByPhone mobile app.
You must use your AU credentials to log in to the Parking Portal and select the "Virtual Self Park Code" option to register your vehicle and obtain the discount code and instructions for use.
You must have/use an Affiliated Login to access this code. If you login using a guest account, you will not have the ability to choose this parking option.
To get a faculty and staff parking permit or to self-park access code, register your car on the AU Parking Portal.
Transit subsidy for full presence staff
American University’s transit subsidy for full-time staff with a full campus presence work modality is a tax-free benefit intended to help defray commuting and parking expenses. The university is pleased to offer this benefit to support our staff who work exclusively in person.
If you work a full-time schedule in a full campus presence modality, you are eligible to receive the subsidy. To receive the transit subsidy, complete the online Transit Subsidy Benefit Annual Application.
You can select one of two subsidy options:
- On-campus Parking: Eligible staff who want to receive the tax-free transit subsidy to offset their monthly on-campus parking permit expense will receive a credit of $63 in their monthly paycheck or $29.08 per paycheck for biweekly paid staff (calculation based on 26 bi-weekly pay periods in a year).
- Optum Commuter Benefits: Eligible staff may receive the tax-free transit subsidy to offset their commuter benefit elected through Optum Financial. Their monthly payroll deduction for commuter benefits will be reduced by $63 per month for monthly paid staff or $31.50 per paycheck for biweekly paid staff (calculation based on 24 semi-monthly pay periods). For example, if an eligible staff member elects a monthly benefit of $150 on the Optum site, their monthly payroll deduction will be reduced to $87 ($150 - $63 = $87). This approach is necessary for AU to comply with IRS tax-free commuter transportation benefit limits.
Once you submit the transit subsidy application, HR will verify your eligibility. Please note that it may take one pay cycle after submitting an application for the subsidy to be reflected in your paycheck.
The subsidy and the option you select will remain in place for 12 months. You will need to resubmit the request form annually each August. If your work modality changes during the year and you are no longer eligible for the subsidy or wish to switch subsidy options, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
SmarTrip cards are permanent, rechargeable cards that are used to pay Metrobus and Metrorail fares. If you don’t already have one, you will initially need to purchase a card from WMATA or a participating retailer and register your new card with WMATA.
- SmarTrip card users must make separate elections for transit expenses and for parking expenses at WMATA Park and Ride locations.*
*The use of Optum Financial commuter benefits for parking applies to WMATA® Park and Ride locations only. For parking at AU parking facilities, please contact American University Parking and Commuter Services.
Commuter check prepaid Mastercard®
This reloadable prepaid card can only be used to purchase transit fares from qualified transit authorities where Debit Mastercard is accepted†. We recommend participants load an amount that’s appropriate for their normal monthly commute.
IMPORTANT: Do not order the Commuter Check Prepaid Mastercard if you intend on using it for:
WMATA Metrobus or Metrorail
- WMATA Park and Ride locations
† The Commuter Check Prepaid Mastercard may only be used for qualified commuter benefit purchases in accordance with IRS Tax Code 132(f). No cash or ATM access. This card may not be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
Bicycle commuter benefit
In support of our sustainability initiative, American University offers a bicycle benefit that is fully paid by the university. Faculty and staff can receive a $20 voucher* for each month that they commute regularly by bicycle for a substantial portion of their travel between home and work. The voucher is intended to pay for the purchase, storage, repair, and maintenance of a bicycle.
Participants are eligible for only one commuter benefit per month – either the transit commuter benefit, AU parking, or the bicycle commuter benefit. To receive the bicycle commuter benefit:
Plan for and monitor your use of the benefit.
Print out a Bicycle Commuting Benefit Affidavit, complete, sign and return the affidavit to AhealthyU by the 10th of the month preceding your commuting benefit start date.
Log onto optumfinancial.com to enter your election by the 10th of each month for the following month or designate in advance the months that you’ll be biking to work.
Update your elections throughout the year to ensure that your anticipated bicycle commuting accurately reflects your actual usage of the bicycle commuting benefit.
*$20 voucher is taxable.
Table of Contents
- Commuter benefits
- Faculty and staff parking at AU
- Transit subsidy for full presence staff
- SmarTrip® cards
- Commuter check prepaid Mastercard®
- Bicycle commuter benefit
- Faculty Staff Benefits Manual
Customer service: 877-292-4040
Make your elections online or download the Optum Financial app to your mobile phone.
AU Parking & Commuter Services
Information about parking on campus
Sign-up for your faculty and staff parking permit on the AU Parking Portal.