Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions

What is building access?
Carnegie Mellon has implemented an ID Card access program in many buildings to limit public access after hours. Campus community members gain access to buildings (where permitted) and may unlock doors by swiping/tapping their ID card on the building card reader. Buildings are locked on weekends and between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays. Schedules may vary depending upon building tenant needs.

What buildings can I access with my ID Card?
There are numerous buildings on campus that may be accessed using your ID Card. The following buildings are locked after hours and require an active ID for entry:

  • Baker Hall
  • Cyert Hall
  • Doherty Hall
  • Hamburg Hall
  • Mellon Institute
  • Newell-Simon Hall
  • Porter Hall
  • Posner Hall
  • Wean Hall
  • University Center

How can I be sure my ID Card will work for building access?
When you receive your ID Card, the card number is entered into the database system that controls all appropriate building doors on campus. If your ID Card does not work and you need access to a building, please contact Facilities Management Services (FMS). You should then bring your ID Card to The HUB during regular business hours to have the card checked and access issue remedied, if necessary.

Can I access specific elevators and sections of academic buildings using my ID Card?
Many departments and academic buildings have secure areas that can only be accessed by designated students, faculty and staff. The HUB does not control access to these areas; students, faculty and staff members may request access by speaking to the specific department.

How do I use my ID Card to print on campus?
A quota of $40 per semester is granted to all active students, faculty and staff with Andrew accounts and a valid ID Card. When you press the 'Print' button at the release station, your quota is debited according to the price scale. See the Computing Services website for complete details.

How much can I print?
Your $40 quota is a per semester allocation of printing resources equated to a dollar value and is available from the first day of classes through the day prior to the first day of classes for the subsequent semester.

Note: Summer session includes the first day of the first summer session through the day before the start of fall classes. Any unused portion of your $40 quota is forfeited the day before classes resume for the subsequent semester. Remaining quota amounts may not be carried over.

How do I know how much I have left in my printing quota?
View your quota usage and balance through the Carnegie Mellon portal.

What if my printing is defective or jammed?
Refunds will not be issued for jammed or defective print jobs. The purpose of the print quota is to eliminate waste and encourage users to be conservative in their printing habits. Compared to other universities and other alternatives, our quota is generous and the cost per page is low.

What if I use my entire printing quota before the end of the semester?
If you deplete your $40 quota, you can pay for additional print jobs using your Plaid Cash account. See the Plaid Cash section of our website for details about how to make a deposit into your Plaid Cash account.

Am I able to receive a refund on my unused printing quota or if I have my own printer and will never use it?
Printing quotas are a perk provided to all students, staff and faculty; therefore, it is not something that you pay for. It is an allocation of printing resources that is equated to a dollar value of $40 per semester. As a result, no refunds will be given on printing quotas.

I'm having problems using my Plaid Cash for printing. Who do I contact?
If you are having printing problems, call a Computer Cluster staff member at 412-268-8776 or email it-help@cmu.edu to report printer problems. View more information regarding Plaid Cash printing issues.

How long is my ID Card valid?
Student ID Cards have expiration dates based on the graduation date listed on the student's account at the time of card printing. Faculty and staff have an expiration date of four years from the date of card printing and sponsored ID Cards may expire up to one year from the date of printing. 

What happens if I don't renew my ID Card?
An expired card may be used to access some campus resources such as parking, building access, the University Library System, Plaid Cash, and meal plans. Expired cards will not work for discounts offered by local merchants or Port Authority Transit. Please remember that you are responsible for your ID Card. If it is confiscated or lost, then you will be charged the appropriate fee. 

Can I use my current ID Card photo when I have my card renewed?
All cardholders are required to have a new photo taken in person at the ID Card services station in The HUB for any kind of ID Card replacement (i.e., renewal, lost card, stolen card, name change).

Can I get a new photo for my ID Card if I don't like the one that is on it now?
Yes. We can take a new photo taken in person at the ID Card Services station in The HUB. There is a $5 fee to take a new photo if the ID Card is not within 30 days of the expiration date listed on the card.

Will The HUB send ID Cards through campus mail? 
No. ID Cards cannot be delivered through campus mail. ID Cards may only be retrieved by the cardholder or an approved authorized designate. Departmental authorized designates are only accepted for distance learning students.

What is Plaid Cash?
Plaid Cash is a declining balance account to which you may add funds at any time. All student ID Cards are equipped with a Plaid Cash account. Plaid Cash may be used on campus at all Dining Services locations (including Entropy), at the University Book Store, and at the Art Store. In addition to using funds on campus, several local businesses accept Plaid Cash as a method of payment.  View other locations where Plaid Cash can be used.

How do I open a Plaid Cash account?
Plaid Cash may be added to a student's ID Card online through SIO. View other Plaid Cash deposit options.

How does Plaid Cash work?
We record the amount of your deposit in your student account and in the Plaid Cash system under your ID Card number. Your ID Card number can be found on the front of your ID Card.

How do I use Plaid Cash?
To use your Plaid Cash account, present your ID Card to the cashier at any location Plaid Cash is accepted and request to make payment using your Plaid Cash funds. Your remaining balance is always reflected on the receipt after each transaction; you may also monitor your balance and detailed account transactions on SIO.

Can I withdraw money from my Plaid Cash account?
You may not withdraw money from your Plaid Cash account. Please see the Plaid Cash Refund Policy for detailed refund information.

Can I use my ID Card as an ATM card?
Yes, your ID Card may be used as an ATM card if you open a new PNC Bank Free Checking Account for Students or have an existing account with PNC Bank. You can activate your ID Card to work like an ATM card to access your PNC Bank account at ATMs and wherever STAR or PLUS is accepted.

Is PNC Bank the only bank participating in the ID Card program?
Yes, PNC Bank is the exclusive banking partner of the ID Card program.

Will I be surcharged when I use my ID Card at an ATM?
No, you will not be surcharged by PNC Bank if you use your ID Card at a PNC Bank ATM. Other financial institutions or ATM operators may charge for using their ATMs. Additionally, PNC Bank charges may apply for using another financial institution's or ATM operator's ATM machine.

How can I link my ID Card to my PNC bank account?
Card linking can be done by a PNC Bank representative at a PNC Bank branch (visit the CMU campus branch, located in the lower level of the University Center, or the PNC Bank located on Craig Street). You may also link your account online using PNC Bank Online Banking, or by calling 1-877-PNC-1000.

Do I need a PIN number for my ID Card to function at PNC Bank ATMs?
Yes, you will need a Personal Identification Number attached to your ID Card. Visit PNC Bank for more information.

Where can I find out more about opening a PNC account and linking my ID Card?
Information regarding linking your PNC account to your ID Card may be found by visiting PNC Bank's website at www.pnc.com/carnegiemellon.

Can I use my ID Card as a debit card at retail stores or other locations?
Yes, your card can be used as a ‘pinned' transaction at any vendor who accepts STAR or PLUS cards.

Can I make a purchase with my ID Card as a credit card?
No. For information about a free PNC Bank Visa Check Card, contact your local branch or call 1-877-PNC-1000.

How do I make copies in the University Library System?
You can make copies by using your Plaid Cash account, which is active on all student, staff and faculty ID Cards. Funds must be deposited into the Plaid Cash account. You may deposit funds and view your available balance through the Carnegie Mellon portal.

How do I use my ID Card to make copies on campus?
You can use your Plaid Cash account for campus copiers, so you do not need another card (like a copy card). See the Plaid Cash section of our website for details about how to make a deposit into your Plaid Cash account.

Can I use my printing quota to make copies on campus?
No, the printing quota is only for printing. Once you are out of printing quota, you may use your Plaid Cash account for printing and copying.

How do I make copies if I do not have an ID Card?
Guests of Carnegie Mellon can purchase a Plaid Cash card from the Plaid Cash Value Transfer machines, also referred to as kiosks. Plaid Cash kiosks are located in Hunt Library near the circulation desk. Additional deposits to the card can be made any time at the Plaid Cash kiosk (in denominations of $5, $10, or $20). Plaid Cash can be used for both copy services in the University Libraries and computer printing (once you have exhausted your printing quota).

Departments, staff and student organizations may use their campus Oracle string to purchase Plaid Cash cards for the use of a department or group. Information regarding this process can be found on the Departmental Plaid Cash page of our website.

What do I do if my purchased Plaid Cash card doesn't work for copies?
Be sure to keep your receipt. If this occurs during The HUB's regular business hours, you may bring the card and the receipt to The HUB. If this occurs after hours, please take the card and the receipt to the Library's circulation desk.

If it was working before and no longer works, you will need to visit The HUB during regular business hours.

How do I make copies for my department or for a research project?
Departments may use their campus Oracle string to assign Plaid Cash to a cardholder (student, staff or faculty) for departmental or research copying. This copying/printing allocation may be requested from The HUB. Further information can be found on the Departmental Plaid Cash page. This Plaid Cash assignment may only be used for copy services in University Libraries or computer printing. It may not be used for other purchases.

What if I lose a departmental Plaid Cash card?
Contact The HUB and we will attempt to determine which card number was issued to your department. If we are able to determine which card was lost, then we will issue a new card with a new number that will invalidate the lost card. The remaining balance will be transferred to the new card.

How do I get a sponsored ID Card?
There are many different types of sponsored ID Cards; therefore, there are different requirements for obtaining one. View the s
ponsored card information on our website.

What do sponsored cardholders have access to?
Sponsored cardholders have access to athletic facilities and equipment, campus academic buildings, tickets for athletic events, concerts, films, and other activities (as long as they are not limited to students only), as well as university libraries borrowing privileges. Special program participants and conference attendees' university libraries borrowing privileges must be arranged in advance by the department sponsoring the program. Access to athletic facilities and equipment will be made available to conference participants for a fee determined by the Athletics department.

When do sponsored ID Cards expire?
Sponsored ID Cards expire one year from the date of issue. Cardholders may renew expired cards each year they are eligible by completing a new Sponsored ID Card Request form, exchanging the expired card, and paying the appropriate fee.

Sponsored cards for special program participants/conference attendees and visiting researchers/scholars are valid only for the duration of the program or conference. Departments must collect cards from the cardholders at the end of the visit and return them to The HUB.

Can I use my ID Card as a bus pass?
Students attending classes on campus are assessed a Transportation Fee each fall and spring semester, which entitles them to use their ID Card to ride Allegheny County Port Authority Transit (PAT) system transportation. Benefits-eligible faculty and staff, designated by Human Resources, are also eligible to ride PAT transit. 

Can my family ride the bus using a sponsored ID Card?
No. Due to the nature of our agreement with the Port Authority, we are not able to extend the PAT privilege to anyone other than degree-seeking students and benefits-eligible faculty and staff. PAT transit ticket books or a ConnectCard may be purchased via the PAT website

If I'm not eligible for the transportation benefit, can I pay the Transportation Fee and get bus privileges that way?
We cannot charge an individual or a department in order to provide the PAT transit privilege to sponsored cardholders or other individuals. The university receives a discounted ridership rate, which we are not permitted to extend to anyone other than the populations defined in our contract with Port Authority. PAT transit ticket books or a ConnectCard may be purchased via the PAT website

Can I lend my ID Card to someone else so they can ride the bus? 
We strongly advise against this. If you do, your ID Card may be confiscated and you may be subject to disciplinary action. The university's agreement with Port Authority requires use of this service be limited to students and employees only. Any student, faculty or staff member who engages in any behavior which might encourage, permit or contribute to the use of this privilege by anyone not eligible to do so will be deemed in violation of the standards of the university community. Specifically, any such action will be considered theft of university services and will subject the individual to the potential of expulsion and/or termination of employment. If convicted of related criminal charges - such as theft of deception, theft of services, or forgery - the person charged may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to two years. Therefore, we strongly urge all members of the community to uphold the integrity of this agreement.

My ID Card will not tap/was not accepted on PAT transportation. What do I do?
Please view the ID Cards & PAT Transportation Issues FAQs for more information about what to do if your ID Card does not tap or is not accepted.

Carnegie Mellon students, faculty and staff members who have a current Carnegie Mellon ID Card and are eligible for the PAT benefit, should receive a green light when tapping their ID Card on the fare box reader (located on all PAT busses, the T and incline) and be permitted to access transportation.

In some cases, a green light does not appear and cardholders are asked to pay a fare or are not permitted to access transportation – read the following FAQs for more information.

TIP: Be sure to tap your card directly on the fare box reader; in some cases, cards that are tapped while enclosed in wallets or other holders do not tap properly. 

A red light displayed on the fare box reader when I tapped my ID Card and I was denied access. What should I do?
If a red light displays on the fare box reader, then you may not have a current ID Card, you may not be eligible for the PAT benefit, or your card may be defective. If you believe that your card is current and you have the PAT benefit, and the operator requests that you pay a fare or does not permit you to ride, then we urge you to visit The HUB as soon as possible to have your ID Card inspected. The HUB staff will:

  • Check to ensure your ID Card is current
  • Check the ID Card system to ensure you are coded for the PAT benefit
  • Inspect your ID Card to make sure it is not defective and that the chip is functional

In order for The HUB staff to troubleshoot the issue, please be prepared to provide the following information: four-digit bus number, route (61A, 71B, 64, etc.), bus direction (inbound or outbound), date and time of day, and message and light color displayed on the fare box reader.

Unfortunately, The HUB is unable to reimburse riders who were required to pay a fare, but our staff will work with you to solve and correct any issues. 

A red light displayed on the fare box reader when I tapped my ID card, but I was permitted to ride. Should I still visit The HUB?
Yes. If a red light displays on the fare box reader, then your ID Card may not be current, you may not be eligible for the PAT benefit, or your card may be defective. Please visit The HUB as soon as possible to have your ID Card inspected. The HUB staff will:

  • Check to ensure your ID Card is current
  • Check the ID Card system to ensure you are coded for the PAT benefit
  • Inspect your ID Card to make sure it is not defective and that the chip is functional

In order for The HUB staff to troubleshoot the issue, please be prepared to provide the following information: four-digit bus number, route (61A, 71B, 64, etc.), bus direction (inbound or outbound), date and time of day, and message and light color displayed on the fare box reader.

A yellow light displayed on the fare box reader when I tapped my ID card. What does this mean and what should I do?
If a yellow light displays on the fare box reader, PAT operators have been instructed to permit the cardholder to access transportation and manually record the ride. While a yellow light usually indicates that the cardholder is authorized to access PAT, an error may have occurred during the tap and it was not recorded correctly via the fare box reader.

If a yellow light displays on the fare box reader and the PAT operator requires you to pay a fare or does not permit you to ride, we urge you to visit The HUB to have your ID Card inspected. The HUB staff will:

  • Check to ensure your ID Card is current
  • Check the ID Card system to ensure you are coded for the PAT benefit
  • Inspect your ID Card to make sure it is not defective and that the chip is functional

In order for The HUB staff to troubleshoot the issue, please be prepared to provide the following information: four-digit bus number, route (61A, 71B, 64, etc.), bus direction (inbound or outbound), date and time of day, and message and light color displayed on the fare box reader.

Unfortunately, The HUB is unable to reimburse riders who were required to pay a fare, but our staff will work with you to solve and correct any issues. 

A red light displayed on the fare box reader when I tapped my ID Card and the operator confiscated my card. What should I do?
Carnegie Mellon ID Cards should never be confiscated by a PAT operator. If your card was confiscated, you should immediately report the incident to The HUB. If possible, please provide the following information: four-digit bus number, route (61A, 71B, 64, etc.), bus direction (inbound or outbound), date and time of day, message and light color displayed on the fare box reader, and a description of the reason why the operator confiscated your card. With the information provided, The HUB staff will be able to assist you by either retrieving your ID Card or replacing your card, if necessary.