You put in the blood, sweat, and tears for four or more years and then you graduate — but the perks to being a True Blue don’t end when you walk across that stage on graduation day or watch your virtual graduation ceremony. There are many benefits to being a U of T alum, such as discounted memberships at the university’s gyms, discounts on Hart House events and spaces, lower insurance rates, and free courses.

Professional development and continuing learning

The School of Continuing Studies (SCS) at U of T has recently started offering an “alumni discount” of $550 for students who graduated in June 2018 and after. The discount can be used within five years of graduation for any one course. Alums can choose from the wide range of language, business and finance, and creative writing courses offered at the SCS, although there are some exceptions to what this discount can be applied to — it can’t be used for examination preparation courses, English language program offerings, and courses which cost less than $550.

In addition to the courses offered by the SCS, there are other resources U of T alums can access. LinkedIn Learning, for example, includes a library of more than 16,000 courses, many of which are designed to refine and develop professional skills. Each course costs approximately $35 per month, but U of T alums have free access to these courses until December 15, 2021. 

Another program called LinkedIn Guys offers a course which provides a step-by-step guide to mastering the platform. Although it typically costs $130, U of T alums can access it for free until June 2022. 

Additionally, alums can access U of T libraries and can choose from three different types of membership plans. The Alumni Reader Card costs $70 annually and provides access to Robarts Library stacks. Cardholders can also check out books. The Alumni Research Reader Card is more expensive, at $145 a year, but subscribers to this plan have access to more loans from Robarts and two renewals per checkout. Holds on books are also allowed, as well as interlibrary loans with a $30 charge applied. The cheapest of the three, the Alumni ID Card, allows access to Robarts Library for a one-time charge of $22.60, but checkouts are not allowed under this plan. 

Arts, culture, and travel 

For people who plan on sticking around Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum offers 15 per cent off of admission and all feature exhibitions for U of T alums. Currently, a general admission ticket for an adult is $23. With the discount, a U of T graduate can get in for $19.55.

Likewise, the Ontario Science Centre and Ripley’s Aquarium offer 20 per cent off of admission, as well as smaller discounts on other features and exhibits. A ticket to the aquarium is normally $43 for an adult; the discount for alums reduces this to $34.40. For the Science Centre, a regular admission costs $22, but U of T alums would only have to pay $17.60.

Club Quarters Hotels offer a discount of up to 30 per cent for U of T alums. The company has hotels in several major US cities and in the United Kingdom. Depending on your destination and time of travel, average prices are about $200 to $230 per night without the discount. The discount can be applied through online or phone booking.

Enterprise Car Rentals offers a discount for U of T alums as well. The discount applies to its daily, weekly, and monthly rates, and can be booked in store, online, or over the phone. U of T alums can also join the company’s Emerald Club and “enjoy ongoing use of this discount.” When I booked a car using the discount, the difference meant I paid about $18 less over four days. 

Financial perks and insurance

Manulife Insurance offers preferred rates for U of T alums on things like health and dental insurance, life insurance, disability income protection, and critical illness insurance. Its combined dental and drug plans are cheaper for alums, and the discounts it offers to alums on its life insurance plan can help you save 10 per cent on your premium with coverage amounts of $280,000 or more. Health and dental insurance can cover the cost of prescription medication and hospital services.

Disability income protection can help you if you have disabilities from an injury or sickness, and allows you to apply for payments of $3,500 per month or 50 per cent of your income, whichever is lower, to support you while you cannot work. Critical illness insurance can allow you to save up to 10 per cent on premiums for coverage that is $125,000 or more.

TD Insurance offers discounted home and automobile insurance rates for U of T alums. Since car and home insurance rates are based on several variables, including age and location, comparing rates can be difficult. When I did a comparison using my own information, the difference was about $45 less per month for car insurance if I stated that I was a U of T alum, which works out to $540 per year.

Overall, many of the benefits offered to U of T alums are worth it. After all the hard work that you have put into earning your degree, don’t forget to enjoy all the benefits that being an alum has to offer.