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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

Confused by IU Dining’s new meal plans? We have answers.


Eating dining hall food is a part of the college experience, but this year, on-campus meal plans have changed, and students are struggling to understand the new system.  

What is the new system? 

The new dining system allows students to use “all-you-care-to-eat" meal swipes and visit dining halls multiple times a day and eat as much as they want. Students can also use a “pay-as-you-go" model at C-stores and the Indiana Memorial Union.

In the old system, students purchased I-Bucks and could scan their Crimson Cards to pay. The new plans cost about the same as the 2021-22 I-Bucks plans, which cost $4,800 for the biggest plan last year compared to $4,944 this year. 


Meal swipe

Allows access to an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall, but a card can only be scanned to enter every 20 minutes.

Meal exchange

Can be used to get a combo meal at a pay-as-you-go location instead of eating a meal at a dining hall. It can also be used to purchase a meal for a guest in an all-you-care-to-eat location. 

Dining Dollars

A 1-1 conversion of USD. Can be used at Starbucks in McNutt and the IMU. 

All you care to eat (AYCTE)

A type of dining hall where students can use meal swipes multiple times a day and enjoy unrestricted servings.  

Pay as you go (PAYG)

A type of dining hall where students can use dining dollars, CrimsonCash, credit cards or exchange an all-you-care-to-eat meal scan for a combo meal.  

Collins Living-Learning Center, Goodbody Hall, McNutt Quad, Wright Quad and Forest Quad are now all-you-care-to-eat locations. Campus Cafes, Campus Stores, Bookmarket Eatery and the IMU offer pay as you go.  

What are the meal plans? 

Seven-day and five-day meal plans are available to students. All first-year students living in a residence hall, or an on-campus furnished apartment were required to select one of three 7-Day meal plans or the 5-Weekday meal plan.  

The 5-weekday meal plan costs $3,914, or $1,957 per semester, and includes meal scans at all-you-care-to-eat locations, three meal exchanges a week and $200 Dining Dollars per semester. The 5-weekday plan restricts all meal scans and exchanges on the weekends but does offer $200 dining dollars to help cover meals taken on the weekends.   


Kenneth Field, Director of Residential Dining, said this plan would work best for a student who goes home or works off campus on weekends. Students who chose that plan can easily move to the 7-day classic for the same rate.

The 7-day and 5-weekday meal plans include meal scans at all-you-care-to-eat locations, meal exchanges and Dining Dollars. The amount of meal exchanges and Dining Dollars depend on the plan students choose. 

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An example of a combo meal would be an entrée item, a side item and a beverage. Each location will be slightly different based on their core menu items. Exchanges are not available at Starbucks locations or Globe vendor locations. Instead, students will have to use Dining Dollars, Crimson Cash or a credit card to pay. An exchange can also be used to purchase a combo meal or an all-you-care-to-eat meal at any dining hall for guests. Meal scans are for the owner of the meal plan only. The dining staff will check student IDs upon entering locations, and there is a 20-minute pass back rule that will restrict card usage for 20 minutes after each use, preventing them from swiping twice in a row for a guest, Field said. 

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Students who are not required to have a seven-day or five-weekday meal plan may choose a meal scan option. There is a 25-meal scan option that includes 25 meal scans or exchanges per semester and $25 Dining Dollars per semester. The 125-meal scan option includes 125 meal scans or exchanges per semester and $200 Dining Dollars per semester. 

For students who are concerned about pricing, Field said IU Dining kept all the prices the same as last year. In the face of rising prices and inflation, he said they made the commitment to keep the price as low as possible for the students.   

How are students handling the change? 

Students are still trying to get the hang of the system since it is still new and has several options to choose from. 

The new system still allows students to use the rest of their I-Bucks if they had any leftover from last year. The I-Bucks work the same as they did last year and are not equivalent to Dining Dollars. 

“The new system is alright, it’s more difficult than the old system, due to having to remember how many Dining Dollars you have or where to eat,” junior Donna Grove said. “It would be more effective if there were more dining options on campus.” 

Sophomore Matthew Howell said that he thinks the new dining system is complicated. He said he misses I-Bucks because it was only one system for everyone and was easy to understand. 

“The Meal Exchange 125 is the best plan because I can eat on campus whenever I want, which is convenient with classes, or I can eat at home,” Howell said. 

Students who want to change their current meal plan or who do not yet have one for this year can buy one on IU Dining’s website. Students can also use the website to add Dining Dollars at any point during the semester but need to already have a meal plan to do so. 

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