Life of Food: Learning Meal Plans


By Wiener Douyon, CollegeFindMe Intern

For this week’s edition of blogs, we are writing a blog on meal plans, after hearing some of you ask what the different terms mean. 

When it comes to college meal plans, there are a lot of different options out there. Brochures and websites for colleges may use terms that a meal plan rookie won’t recognize, and each school will likely have a different combination of options. Here are the basics of meal plans, including commonly used terms.

Swipe vs. Point Systems

The two main type of dining systems are the Swipe and Point Systems. Depending on what your college uses, you will have a choose a specific meal plan under one of those systems. Keep in mind that many colleges have some sort of mixture between the two, where they may have a swipe system but also incorporate a credit system that allows the student to purchase non-edible products like soap and pencils. The two systems are listed below:


  • Students are given passes for a certain number of meals per day, week, or semester. The student uses a meal pass when they go eat no matter what they eat. Often in a dining hall, all meals are worth the same. Essentially, the swipe system is like a buffet, where it is all you can eat at any given time.


  • Students purchase meal points at the beginning of the semester and then spend those points throughout the year. When a student purchases a meal or item, their accounts get deducted with the number of points those meals/items cost. These costs of items/meals vary on how large it is. Therefore, a bag of chips cost less money than an omelet, and so forth.

Meal Plan Types

Unlike the Dining systems, meal plan types will vary from student to student depending on finances. Therefore, make sure you know how much you like to eat, and how much you’re willing to pay for food, because these aspects will play a role in deciding your meal plan. Besides, college life is only as great as the food! Below are some of the more general plan types. Each college may have their own version of such plans, but the main foundation should be the same, no matter the university.



  • Cost the least
  • 1 daily meal through meal points/ meal swipes. Usually lunch.
  • For those who tend to cook own meals and have many more dietary restrictions that makes it hard to find food from dining halls



  • Cost-effective
  • 2 meal  through meal swipes/points
  • For those who do not eat as much or have food coming from home consistently.


  • Standard plan of 3 daily meals through meal swipes/points
  • The price of this plan is most commonly used when displaying the prices of room and board.


  • Cost the most
  • Around 4-5 daily meals through meal swipes/points
  • This would be recommended for those who play sports and need a bit more calories to replenish the amount of calories burned from exercising.

*The Unlimited Plan is one of the subtypes of a heavy meal plan. It is what you may think of the ultimate food experience: limitless food swipes/points. If you’re a food lover and can afford it, this plan is recommended to you!

Final Tips:

Food is everything. Besides, who can think and work hard on an empty stomach! By understanding the variety of food plans, you now have the ability to determine your food paradise! Smile and have the food take you away!


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