Is a meal plan a good deal?

This calculator calculates the average cost per meal for a meal plan. Many colleges and universities require students that reside on campus to register for a meal plan. Even if you are not required, it may be cheaper to buy a meal plan than to pay cash for your meals. Most sources of financial aid and tax-advantaged college savings plans consider meals a legitimate education-related expense.

Colleges and universities often offer a variety of meal plans, including some plans that are targeted for off-campus residents including commuters. Some plans may restrict the use of the plan to on-campus dining halls. Other schools may advance some of the cost of the meal plan as campus cash, a currency that can be used to pay for late-night pizza orders and other petty cash expenses. The calculator excludes any campus cash from the cost analysis.

Some of the questions you may ask about meal plans include:

  • Can unused meals be rolled over and used in the next period?
  • Are meal portions unlimited?
  • What are the dining hours and when are meal times?
  • What types and what merchants accept campus-cash?
  • Is sales tax levied on the plan?
  • Does the plan accommodate for special meals (e.g. ethnic or vegetarian)?

Advertiser Disclosure: The listings that appear on myFICO are from companies from which myFICO receives compensation, which may impact how and where products appear on myFICO (including, for example, the order in which they appear). myFICO does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Credit card ratings: Editors from CardRatings.com rate credit cards objectively based on the features the credit card offers consumers, the fees and interest rates, and how a credit card compares with other cards in its category. Ratings vary by category, and the same card may receive a certain number of stars in one category and a higher or lower number in another.

The ratings are the expert opinion of the editors from CardRatings.com, and not influenced by any remuneration their website may receive from card issuers.


myFICO is the consumer division of FICO. Since its introduction over 25 years ago, FICO® Scores have become a global standard for measuring credit risk in the banking, mortgage, credit card, auto and retail industries. 90 of the top 100 largest U.S. financial institutions use FICO Scores to make consumer credit decisions.

>> About myFICO
FICO Score - The Score that matters
Fair Isaac Corporation is a BBB Accredited Financial Service in San Rafael, CA
FOLLOW US Social Media Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+