Ah, the college meal plan. Each school has their own system, some more confusing than others. Quality is also highly school specific. Here at Rollins, students don't have to worry about if they've swiped into the dining hall in the last four hours. However, those living on campus face a one size fits all deal. That's right, your 5-foot bookworm is allotted the same amount of cash as your 6-foot-4 athlete.
For those in season, it's rough to budget. But for those who make use of leftovers, the excess balance at the end of the year can feel like a huge waste of money. Looks like these starving college students have morphed into broke ones. What is there to do with all that cash? Spend it, or have it vanish. The choice is yours. Here's what I opted to do with it.
1. Stock up on things that last.
Rollins students are lucky to have the C-Store, an on-campus on-the-meal-plan convenience store. If you'll be staying on campus for summer classes or research, you can get ahead on your food pile. Canned goods are definitely a good choice. Black beans and rice anyone? Pasta, cake mixes and tea also last pretty long. Need to burn the cash super fast? Spices and vanilla extract are compact and cost a lot to boot!
2. Treat your friends, family and your friend's family.
Everyone could use a nice meal! For those who don't eat there every day, the Campus Center and Dave's can be a treat. So, treat your friends who come to visit. Take your family super snack shopping. When they say they want one, grab three. Spend the night at someone's house? Reward them with steaks, and watch that excess dwindle!
3. Donate, donate, donate!
It's not uncommon for a food drive to be going on somewhere. Recently, there have been collections right at the C-Store to help those affected by the Ecuador earthquake. On your way to they counter, grab a box of cereal or a case of water to donate. It makes sure your money is put to good use, and it helps out people who don't have the luxurious problem of having too much food.
Meal plan money can be tough to manage, but it can also be tough to spend. However, by following those three steps, I got rid of $1000, all without wasting a dime. After those crazy stock up trips, I can see the allure of crazy couponing. Please, always get something for anyone who helps you carry 40 pounds of food to your dorm. You feel accomplished and prepared, like you made it all count. Good luck with the final days of meal plan management, you're prepared.