UM requires $4,030 meal plan per semester for all first-years; 19% increase from last year’s cheapest option

Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

A University of Miami dining hall meal costs $12. That is given the student visits the dining hall three times a day, seven days a week for 16 weeks of the academic semester. Any fewer visits, means a higher cost.

The average UM student may eat closer to 15 meals a week for 15 weeks of the semester. At this rate, a single meal’s cost increases to $18 each.

For the past several years, UM students could choose a “14 meal per week” or “19 meal per week” plan, bringing the single meal cost back down to $16 and $13 respectively.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, UM on-campus first-years will lose this option.

UM will require first-years living on campus to purchase the seven-day-a-week, unlimited meals plan, officially named the “7 Day All Access.” The plan will include the same amount of $250 Dining Dollars, available at most university dining locations; five guest swipes, a slash from the 10 allotted previously; one swipe per meal period at the Corner Deli and an obligatory 15 minute pause between meal swipes.

The rule will apply during the first-year’s first semester or until they obtain more than 24 credits.

UM failed to respond to a request to comment on the decision to redesign the meal plans.

“I’m curious to see the reasoning for why they want to change it,” said Hannah Schmitz, a sophomore studying biochemistry and marine science. “I can’t think of a good reason.”

Schmitz used the 14 meal per week plan in her freshman year. On the rare occasion that she ran out of meal swipes, a friend would lend her a guest swipe. She would return the favor next week.

The university tweaks its policies each year, typically increasing the meal plan prices marginally by a couple hundred dollars. This year’s change is the most radical in recent history.

It is accompanied by an apparent discount for the second most expensive meal plan. Instead of a 19 meal per week plan, priced at $3,725 in the 2022-2023 academic year, UM will now offer a “5 Day All Access” plan at $3,500. The plan includes the same features as the “7 Day All Access” without, of course, Saturday and Sunday availability.

The “5 Day All Access,” though, is only available to upperclassmen.

The 14 meal per week plan has been completely phased out, replaced by a new 125 meal block plan. These allow UM students to buy 125 meals throughout the semester from the dining halls in addition to using $250 in Dining Dollars. The plan costs $2,560.

For Carlos Luengo, a first-year studying economics, the 14 meal per week plan made sense.

“I have never run out,” Luengo said. “I don’t think it was worth it to have the unlimited one.”

Occasionally Luengo supplements his meal plans with McDonalds but has never lacked the means to eat, even with the smallest possible meal plan.

Jacob Sachs, another first-year who studies microbiology, agreed. He says only once has he met the 14 meal per week limit and it was the final meal before his limit reset for the week.

For him as well, the unlimited plan is not ideal.

“Why would you want to pay more money? Why change it if someone’s gonna have to pay more money?” Sachs said.

“I kind of would want to know the reason why they’re doing that,” he added.

Rising first-years who live near campus with family may avoid the requirement by living off-campus, but they should be aware of a potential $300 cancellation fee if they choose to leave their meal plan mid-semester.

Students who are not required to enroll in the “7 Day All Access” should also recognize a $40 downgrade fee if they choose to transition to a cheaper meal plan.

First-year, on-campus students with dietary restrictions may still be obligated to enroll in the “7 Day All Access” program, but may also contact to discuss specific meal plans.