Meal Plan Advice
by Sarah Wu
Photography courtesy of BU Dining Services
Few things are certain in life besides death and taxes, and the same can be said for on-campus housing and dining plans in your freshman year of college at Boston University. While you may be adjusting to living on your own or with a roommate (or two or three...shout-out to all the freshmen in quads in Warren Towers), one thing you don’t have to worry about is food on campus. With three dining halls, the Union Court at the George Sherman Union, Buick Street Market and the various City Conveniences across campus, you’re sure not to go hungry (and if you are, you can always order Domino’s with your dining points, tip number one). You may think that all the dining plans are the same, but I fear you are not correct.
The only dining plan that costs more is the unlimited plan, rightly so. However, for the majority of us who do not have bottomless pits for stomachs, we are torn between the other five dining plans. While it may seem a bit late to change your mind, it is in fact the best time to do so! If you chose the 330 Plan on StudentLink and tend to eat outside of the dining halls, you’re in luck. One huge upperclassman tip is to switch from the 330 Plan to the 250 Plan. This semester, the deadline to switch dining plans is Thursday, October 26. Let’s talk about why switching can benefit you in the long run.
First, let’s start with the difference between the 330 Plan and the 250 Plan. The 330 Plan allots you 330 meals (as per the name) per academic year, or 165 meals per semester. Likewise, the 250 Plan allots 250 meals for the academic year and 125 for the semester. There are fewer dining points given with the 330 Plan, but more with the 250. The 14-Plus and the 9-Plus [SW1] plan have those set amount of meals per week in addition to dining points, so if you use all your swipes, you’re stuck until the week starts again.
You may have chosen a plan based on whether you thought you’d use more dining points or meal swipes, or if your schedule would allow you to consistently go to the dining hall. Let’s say, for example, you decided to go on the 330 Plan but are close to running out of dining points, but have barely used your meals, you’re in luck!
If you switch by the October 26 deadline, your dining points will be adjusted. “How does this work?” you may ask. You may remember how I mentioned above that you have 165 or 125 meals per semester, depending on which plan you picked between the 330 and 250. This is divided by the number of weeks per semester, without restricting you from swiping in x amount of times per week—for example, for the 330 Plan, if there are 165 meals per semester. Divide that by the number of weeks, and that is the expected amount of meals you’d use each week. If you use nine meals one week and 12 the next, it will deduct from the total amount, but you won’t be limited to nine or 14 meals per week.
If you use less than that amount before the switch, the switch will adjust for that. It will take all the meals you haven’t used up to this point (that you “should” have used), and it will convert them to dining points. The real kicker is this—each meal has a cash value at the dining hall. When the meals are converted to points, they are converted at the dinner price, which is the most expensive.
If this is confusing, let me use an example. Let’s say there are 15 to 16 weeks in one semester—with the 330 Plan, it would be estimated that you’d use 10 to 11 meals per week. For consistency’s sake, let’s say that you only use eight of those per week. By the time you switch, two to three meals from each week would be converted at the dinner price to dining points. The longer you wait and closer to the deadline to switch you are, the more dining points you can make! From personal experience, I’ve gone from around 80 dining points to over 1,000 dining points. Now that you’re in the know, go forth and get that money to spend at the GSU!