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A meal plan is a contract with Dining Services for a particular number of all-you-can-eat meals each week at:
Unused meals expire each Saturday night.
First-year meal plan
All first-years are required to take out a meal plan. There are three first-year meal plan options of varying price with different balances of dining hall meals and Dining Dollars that can be redeemed at other on-campus dining locations.
As of February 2013, first-year students in Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science have three meal plans from which to choose.
- Plan 1: 19 meals per week and 75 Dining Dollars per term, plus 15 floating meals and 6 faculty meals.
- Plan 2: 15 meals per week and 125 Dining Dollars per term, plus 10 floating meals and 6 faculty meals.
- Plan 3: 19 meals per week, $50 Flex and 25 Dining Dollars per term, plus 15 floating meals and 6 faculty meals.
- Plan 4: The Kosher meal plan.
The first three plans have no difference in cost, while the Kosher meal plan costs 10% more than the regular meal plans.
Most first-years are advised to choose the option with the least meals and the most Dining Dollars. Those who select the option with more meals rarely end up using all of these. As one's weekly meal swipes expire at the end of each Saturday, one would have to eat at every meal offered by dining to make the nineteen-meal-per-week plan worthwhile. The mediocrity of breakfast at Ferris makes this proposition unwieldy. However, some students, often athletes, find the bigger plan worthwhile.
Historically, upperclassmen recommend that first-years choose a meal plan with fewer meals per week and more Dining Dollars. However, students who may find themselves on-campus during any academic holidays--when all campus dining halls are closed--may rather choose Plan 3 so as to have Flex Dollars during the break. Additionally, students that expect to eat more of their meals on-campus and fewer in the Morningside Heights neighborhood may prefer a meal plan with more meals per week.
Over the summer before your first-year, Columbia will send you a survey for you to note your housing preferences. On this survey, you also choose which of the three dining plans you will purchase. If you decide to change your mind, you can change your meal plan up through the first two weeks of school for a fee of $20.
Changing meal plan
Columbia students can change their meal plan within the first two weeks of each semester. There is a $25 change fee. Columbia students can call dining directly at (212) 854-4076 to guide them through changing their meal plans. Alternatively, Columbia students can navigate to the dining website to fill out the online change form.
Upperclassmen meal plan
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors can sign up for meal plans that include meal swipes and Dining Dollars.
Most upperclassmen do not sign up for meal plans, since it's significantly cheaper and tastier to eat out - or, even better, cook. However, upperclassmen meal plans remain popular among student athletes.
Specialist meal plans
- Kosher meal plan - a separate and slightly more expensive option
- Halal meal plan - all you have to do is register and get a sticker on your CUID in 118 Hartley Hall.
- Dining Dollars (tax-free dollars that can be used at many dining establishments on campus)
- Flex Dollars (taxed dollars that can be used at many dining establishments on campus, as well as local restaurants, grocery stores, and drug stores, and for miscellaneous uses like laundry)