If you are headed to college next fall, one of the expenses you may see added to your college bill is a meal plan. Many colleges now require freshmen to enroll in a college meal plan, as it helps ensure students have access to regular meals throughout the semester, as well as encouraging students to socialize with others on campus. On average, college meal plans can run anywhere from $1,200 a year to over $6,300, so finding one that fits your dietary needs and budget is an important step in your college planning process. You can expect to find the typical menu staples like hamburgers and pizza at your campus cafeteria, but if you have specialized dietary needs or a picky palate, you may need to research your options before committing to a plan. Although many campuses have increased their menu options to accommodate more students, these college meal plans have taken dining to an entirely new level.
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More and more colleges are requiring incoming freshmen to purchase meal plans. In general, freshmen living on campus are required to purchase meal plans because they may not have kitchens available in their dorms and may not know how to budget wisely for food purchases in their first year of school. While purchasing a meal plan may seem like a great idea, be aware that not all plans are created equally, and some can be quite expensive.
The average cost of a college meal plan last year was $1,500 per semester. At Keene State College, for example, the 12-meal plan (meaning students get 12 meals each week) recommended to incoming students is $1,344. That’s approximately $7 per meal. Read the rest of this entry »