Making the most out of a decision made for you.
As move-in comes to a close and your parents say their goodbyes, the sudden realization of how you’re going to eat will likely set in. With this realization will also come the hope and prayer that you managed to choose the right meal plan out of the school choices for your style of living. Ohio State doesn’t make this easy, with confusing web info that often leads to wrong choices, luckily you have until the second Friday after classes start to change it!
I spent the first two years of college trying all of the meal plans and have come to a pretty good understanding of what works, and what doesn’t.
Unlimited: $1,933 per semester
This is without a doubt the best value for your money option. I highly suggest it to anyone who is a little indecisive about the others, or plans on eating off campus regularly. I generally recommend students to use this plan to save money so they can apply the money saved compared to other plans, on going to the grocery store or any of Columbus’s great local restaurants. Be aware, however, that the unlimited plan doesn’t allow you to utilize non-Traditions locations. This shouldn’t be of concern as I strongly advise against non-Traditions spots as they offer the lowest value for your money due to the insane markups the school places on food at these spots.
Grey 10: $1,981 per semester
I would recommend this option if you have classes that are not close to any of the Traditions locations. The only benefit to the dining-dollar spots is the occasional locations in central campus (This has largely been mitigated by the construction of Mirror Lake.) The Grey 10 offers a balance between dining dollars and Traditions visits, but doesn’t offer enough traditions visits to cover you for more than 1 meal a day on average. You’ll likely find yourself having to rely on eating off campus as your visit plans diminish, and you get tired of the dining hall food. Of the limited Traditions visits, this is the only one I can mildly recommend.
Scarlet 14: $2,360 per semester
Just don’t… If you honestly think you’re going to use 14 visits a week do yourself a favor and save $427 and get the unlimited plan. The reality is this plan is, after the declining balance, the largest sunk cost you can incur of all the meal plans. It’s important to note that any unused Traditions credits disappear at the end of the week. While it may be fun to go to the nearest C-Store and load up on snacks Sunday night before your credits turn to pumpkins, take a moment and think about all the Canes you could have bought with $427 dollars… Just saying.
Declining Balance: $2,106 per semester
This plan should be illegal… You are paying $2,106 for $1,369 dining dollars. To repeat, you are giving them $2,106 REAL DOLLARS FOR $1,369 FAKE EXPIRING UNIVERSITY DINING DOLLARS. You may wonder how this makes any sense, the reality is when you purchase food with dining dollars a 35% percent discount is applied to all purchases at dining locations and a 10% applied to all C-Store purchases. If we run the math, 35% of $2,106 is $737, so if we subtract this from $2,106 we get a final balance of $1,369, meaning the discount, which brings the inflated-on campus food prices to standard amounts, disappears. Sadly, you are tied into this system as all students living in dorms are required to have a meal plan. So my suggestion is to go with the unlimited and by your food elsewhere, your stomach and wallet will thank you.•