A commonly asked question from family members of incoming students is, “How do I know my child is going to be able to eat while at college?” There is a straightforward answer. You won’t. To prevent students from not eating, Residence Life, Housing, and Dining Services require all students living in community style or suite-style housing to purchase both a meal plan and Dining Dollars package. But what is the difference between these? That is what we will look at today!
When your student filled out their housing application, they were required to select how many meals per week and Dining Dollars they wanted for the upcoming semester. The price for a meal plan will vary based on the number of meals per week. The options range from ten meals per week to unlimited meals. The chart below shows all the options and their respective prices for either a semester or academic year.
I cannot tell you which package to choose, as that depends on the personal needs of your student. If you are entirely unsure, keep in mind that meal plans can be raised or lowered during the first three weeks of each semester. After the third week, meal plans can only be increased until the start of the next semester. Side note, the weekly meal balance resets Monday morning before breakfast.
Now on to Dining Dollars, formerly known as Boomer Meals. Dining Dollars are a dollar-for-dollar declining balance plan, much like a checking account. The amount purchased will be loaded onto the student’s BearPass card to be used around campus. Every time a purchase is made, that amount is subtracted from the balance left on the account.
The balance can be checked at the time of sale or from the student’s My.MissouriState.EDU portal. Keep in mind that Dining Dollars can only be used at vendors listed here. Below you can find the four different amounts you can load onto your BearPass card. You can see that the more you buy, the more bonus Dining Services gives you!
To conclude, the part you have all been waiting for…my personal opinion on Dining Dollars and Meal Plans. I highly recommend that all incoming students purchase a meal plan and dining dollars for their first year on campus. I suggest that you start with 10-Meals per week and the $280 Dining Dollar package. My reasoning for the lowest meals per week selection is because why spend more money than you need to? You will always be able to increase this plan from your My.MissouriState.EDU account during the semester, but you can only decrease it for the first three weeks.
I honestly do not think the first three weeks will be long enough for you to decide which Meal Plan is best for you, so start at the bottom! For the Dining Dollars, my main reason for selecting the most expensive package is that the more you spend, the more bonus you get in return! I would guess that most students use all their Dining Dollars since getting a coffee at Starbucks every day will add up pretty quickly. Dining Dollars roll over every semester until the following summer, so you can lower the package for your second semester if you need to!
(submitted by Drew Minnis – Sophomore | Department of Hospitality Leadership | 2021 SOAR Leader | Vice President of Operations | Social Fraternity | Sustainability Committee Senator | Student Government Association Member | Student Affairs Advisory Board Member | Building Manager | Foster Recreation Center)