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Emily Kranking for TRW

Students feel swindled by dining plans

Recently, a cost-benefit analysis was conducted by senior mathematics and statistics major Steven Ashman, determining that the average price for a meal on the most expensive commuter meal plan is $11. This means that commuters who currently have this meal plan have to eat at True Grit’s in order to get their money’s worth. If the student eats at The Commons, where the average meal is $7 without a drink, the student loses, on average, $4.

While this study may show that commuter meal plans are not cost efficient, is this also the case with meal plans for students living on campus? Do students living on campus feel as though they are being swindled out of their money due to unfair dining plans?

“I really like my meal plan,” said Chris Gruenke, a freshman mechanical engineering major with the ultimate meal plan. This meal plan, which costs $4302 a semester, allows students to obtain a meal once during each of the four meal periods, gives the student unlimited access to the True Grit’s buffet and gives them $80 in flex. “I feel like I get my money’s worth with the unlimited plan. I get four meals a day, which is more than enough to keep me full and energized. My friends find their meal plans to be worth it as well,” Gruenke continued.

James Gallagher - TRW
James Gallagher – TRW

With the ultimate meal plan, based on the total paid by students for the entire semester, each meal costs $4.62. This seems to be a good deal, but as the commuter meal plans demonstrate, students who purchase other meal plans are not so lucky.

However, after being presented the cost-benefit analysis involving commuter meal plans, Gruenke began to question whether or not his meal plan was really as great as he previously stated. “Maybe I’ll check to see if my meal plan is really worth the amount of money I’m spending for it.”

As it turns out, a majority of students have the same mindset Gruenke does in terms of the value of their meal plans. Of 20 students questioned about the value for money of their current meal plan, 19 believed that their meal plan was good value for money and that they were getting their money’s worth. Out of these 19 students, 17 questioned whether or not they were being swindled out of their money after being introduced to the findings in the cost benefit analysis.

Although many students find their meal plans to be worth the money they are paying each semester, they may not be aware how much they are actually paying per meal.

Thanks to senior mathematics and statistics major Steven Ashman for contributing his meal plan cost-benefit analysis for The Retriever’s use.