3 years ago
Paying for College

Does a student have to pay for a meal plan even if they get their food elsewhere?

If I decided to go to the grocery store and get my supplies, do I HAVE to eat the college's food? Do I have to pay for a meal plan even if I'm not eating there? This may be a dumb question, but I'm asking it anyway! :)


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago[edited]

There are no dumb questions! It's going to depend on the school but typically if you are living on campus most colleges will require you to have a meal plan, especially if it's your first year. This is usually in the "board" part of "room and board." After your first year it can vary a decent amount so you will want to check out whatever schools you are applying to and see what their policy is.

Schools do their meal plans differently but generally there are multiple tiers you can choose from. If you plan on making your own food often maybe it will make sense for you to get the lowest tier. I think on average this usually works out to ~5 meals a week, but again, it depends on the school. Some schools might be pay-as-you-go where your meal plan is "X" dollars/points and the cost of your meal is deducted each time you eat. These meal plans let you eat as often/little as you like as long as you have money/points on your card. Other meal plans give you a certain number of meals a week/month/semester and each time you eat you use one meal. In this situation the cost of what you get isn't relevant and instead it's just how often you pick something up. Buying a single banana at breakfast would be the same as having a steak, mash potatoes, and fries. Sometimes there is a hybrid and you have meal swipes but also cash or points that can be used in certain places.

Right now you might think you'll be ready to shop, prep, cook, eat, and clean up for every meal. Something I encourage you to consider is if you think you will really have the time, energy, and money to be doing that every single day and for every meal. It's possible you will, which would be awesome, but it's also very possible life and classes will get in the way, studying and homework will get in the way, social life and activities will get in the way, you get the idea. Just some food (ha) for thought!

3 years ago

Typically, for most college freshmen, it is required you are on a meal plan (depending on the school, you can pick one). I've looked at over a hundred schools, and I don't remember ever finding a school that didn't require one.

However, depending on the school, you can choose your meal plan. Some schools have a meal plan where you can get every meal from their school, while some have it to where you get a limited number of meals every semester. I recommend the latter since it's nice to have if you ever running late or want to pick up something between classes. I also recommend you find a school that has suites for freshmen since in man suites you are given an oven and a fridge (which makes it loads easier to cook.)

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