It’s overwhelming enough to be a freshman in college without having to worry about something as confusing as a meal plan. But, if you’re living on campus, meal plans are extremely important. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the meal plan that is right for you.
Research the meal plans available to you. Make sure you know the difference between prices, the amount of meals provided each day, the kiosks or restaurants involved and the total amount of meals provided for the year or semester (whichever the case may be). If you decide to go with a meal plan that provides you with fewer meals a day than you typically eat, be sure that there is another way for you to get food. You may have to keep a stash of snacks in your dorm or find other cheap restaurants nearby that you can go to when hunger strikes.
Are there any meal plans that include local restaurants or fast food places? Some schools offer plans that allow students to use their meal plan bucks at local eateries. This could come in handy if your campus cafeteria is lacking in variety. Also, if your campus is big enough to have mini food kiosks on it – such as a Starbucks coffee cart – see if those are included in a meal plan too.
Does your dorm allow access to a stove, oven or other major cooking appliances? If you have the means to make your own food, you might want to go with a smaller meal plan. This, of course, will only work if you have the means to make and store the food so, unless you like in an apartment or a suite, this might not be a viable option for you.
What are the rules and policies concerning adding or getting a refund on money you’ve put towards your meal plan? In other words, if you eat fewer meals than your meal plan calls for, will you get reimbursed for them? Will the money roll over into the next semester or next academic year? On the other hand, if you eat more than your meal plan allows for, will you be able to add funds to your account?
By keeping these ideas and questions in mind, you’ll be able to find a meal plan that keeps you, and your bank account, full.