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College Meal Plans - When does it make sense to buy the "Maximum" plan?


Replies to: College Meal Plans - When does it make sense to buy the "Maximum" plan?

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,871 Senior Member
    The OP did ask when it would make sense to have the unlimited plans if given a choice. My kids didn't need it but I have two friends with kids with 'food insecurity' and they would freak out if they thought food was limited. Both families went with the unlimited optins because they wanted their kids to be able to get food whenever they needed it/wanted it.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,688 Senior Member
    edited June 10
    Of course, all of the varied responses basically say that the answer to the OP's question is "it depends on the pricing of the various meal plan options, the alternative food options available, and the student's eating habits".

    So if the price difference between the maximum and smaller meal plans is small, the alternative food options are poor, and the student is a hungry athlete, that may suggest that the maximum meal plan is a good option. But if the smaller or no meal plan costs substantially less, the student likes cooking, lives where there is a kitchen and near a convenient grocery store, and eats relatively little, then a smaller or no meal plan may be a better choice.
  • My3KiddosMy3Kiddos Registered User Posts: 462 Member
    I can tell you one scenario where it makes sense - when the school makes all freshmen get an unlimited plan! DS's school made the decision that all freshman must get the unlimited plan this year.
  • FlaParentFlaParent Registered User Posts: 97 Junior Member
    The cost differentials between schools are huge.

    The meal plan at Wellesley College costs $7,442 per year and Northeastern charges $6,990.

    Other schools are much lower. I'm not sure that many people would get their monies worth at almost $36 per day.
  • apraxiamomapraxiamom Registered User Posts: 682 Member
    My son was required to have a full meal plan as a freshman, but he found that the cafeteria hours didn’t work with his music practices. As a sophomore this year, he’s getting a plan with more flex points for cafes, etc.
  • mommdcmommdc Registered User Posts: 11,255 Senior Member
    And just because we got the plan with the 10 meals (swiped in dining hall), that didn't mean they couldn't eat more than that.

    They were free to eat as much as they wanted, but eating every meal at the dining hall didn't work with their schedule sometimes. If they ran out of flex dollars to buy food at other campus places, we would either add more or they could use a credit card we gave them.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 26,253 Senior Member
    It's also important to check where one can use a swipe. On my son's campus, the convenience store and the food truck accept swipes, and some local businesses accept points - which come with the meal plan, so for us it's worth it.

    My son doesn't eat breakfast, but he often has lunch, late lunch and then dinner before having a late-night snack at the convenience store or the food truck.
  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 Registered User Posts: 3,417 Senior Member
    checking the hours of a cafeteria can come into play as well.
    The cafeteria closest to my kid's dorm has what I consider to be very inconvenient hours. 7-9am for breakfast, 10:30-2 for lunch, and 5-8:30 for dinner. Those hours are very unrealistic for many people, since class times goes anywhere from 8am to 8pm. There's another cafeteria in another dorm that is open late hours until 1:30am, but it's a good 15-20 minute uphill hike. If you're doing a max plan but the cafeteria open hours are when you have classes, well, it doesn't do much good.
  • SybyllaSybylla Registered User Posts: 3,411 Senior Member
    Right, I really don't understand this business of unlimited, if the opening hours are totally restricted.
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