Refunding extra meal swipes saves students money

Flex dollars isn’t an option – unless you’re on Meal Plan D, which is great if you’re a commuter or resident of Miller/Meadows and only want 60 meals for the entire semester. Otherwise, you’re digging deep and paying over $2,000 for any given meal plan (with the exception of Meal Plan D1) each semester.

Let’s put this into perspective. Take the popular Meal Plan B, for example – 200 meals and $85 Flex dollars at the cost of $2,238 each semester. Breaking that down and excluding the cost of flex, that’s about $10.77 for every meal. Not too shabby, until you realize there are a plethora of leftover meal swipes.

But what happens to funds left on the residential dining plan? Nothing. Any remaining balance is forfeited. That’s money gone with the wind.

So why aren’t we eating what we paid for?

In theory, the average American eats approximately three meals a day. But being a college student strips you of that privilege. Sleep trumps breakfast (especially given that all-nighter you just pulled). And some consider it lucky finding time for lunch at the HUB or DC amidst hectic class schedules. If there’s no time to swipe for lunch, it’s another bowl of microwaved Ramen.

If you fit into this demographic, it’s unreasonable to assume you’ll max out of meal swipes. And that’s [($10.77 x # of missed meals) + leftover flex dollars] down the drain. But there is a solution. Two, actually.

Any meals and flex dollars remaining at the end of the academic year should continue to roll over until graduation. This would allow students to adjust their meal plan accordingly every semester to better suit their needs. Besides preventing immediate financial loss, this would allow for more financial flexibility.

The best approach, however, would be to simply refund the student any unused meal swipes and flex dollars at the end of the academic year. 

For example, some schools such as Boston College in Massachusetts have a system in place to reimburse undergraduate students for unspent finances. Any Residential Dining Bucks – the equivalent to Huntington University’s flex dolalrs – remaining at the end of any academic year continue to roll over until graduation. 

It doesn’t stop there. 

Any remaining balance over $5 receive a 100 percent refund. Although this method fails to compensate students for unused meals as well, this is definitely a plan Huntington University could model.

It’s worth looking into. Sodexo and student relationships improve, everyone’s happy, and we pocket maybe a few hundred bucks to help pay off those student loans – or buy more Ramen. 

The Huntingtonian editorial is written by the editorial staff. It reflects the viewpoint of the editors only and does not represent the viewpoint of Huntington University. The staff can be reached at huntingtonian@huntington.edu.

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