The freshman mandatory dining plan will increase starting next fall for the first time in five years, after parents called the current plan insufficient.
Freshmen will pay an extra $100 in Colonial Cash, amounting to a total of $3,500 for their meal plan next year, Director of Campus Support Services Nancy Haaga said Wednesday.
Students can also choose a costlier Dining Dollar plan and earn free money from the University to spend at on-campus Sodexo-run venues. Students who purchase between $100 and $500 receive an additional $10 to $100 through GW’s first voluntary dining plan.
For example, students who choose the most expensive plan will pay $500 and, in turn, receive $600 worth of Dining Dollars that can be used at J Street and G-Dub Java, along with Pelham Commons and ZeBi on the Mount Vernon Campus. Freshmen already pay for $700 worth of Dining Dollars each semester.
“We made an effort to try and bump up [the required plan] a little bit, while at the same time introducing the voluntary plan,” Haaga said. “So we think it’s a nice mix.”
Haaga said the move was based on feedback from the University’s Parents’ Association Advisory Council over the last several years.
She said the increased plans will help students keep up with the costs of inflation as area businesses raise their prices.
Some GWorld partners have also said they inflate their prices to afford the 8 to 10 percent commission fee and the 10-cent swipe fee to the University. Major credit cards charge between 2 and 5 percent in surcharges.
Rodney Johnson, executive director of the office of parent services, said the decision was a step in the right direction to give students the meal plan they need. He said he has fielded a high volume of calls from parents who said the freshman dining plan fell short.
“I’m glad we added $100 to the meal plan,” Johnson said, adding that “$3,500 is not enough, to be quite honest. In my opinion, it’s just not enough money for the average student.”
Johnson said he thinks the freshman plan will increase again next year.
The pricier dining plan will benefit students receiving financial assistance, because their scholarships and loans will cover an increased total cost of attendance, Haaga said.
While the University has nothing proposed to increase dining plans for upperclassmen living on campus, the voluntary dining plans will be available to all students throughout the year.
The University stopped requiring sophomores to purchase J Street dining plans in 2011, after years of student complaints. Sophomores now pay $2,500 each academic year for GWorld money that can be used at venues around campus. That meal plan drops to $2,000 for juniors and $1,000 for seniors. Students who live off campus are not required to purchase the plans.
The University has made multiple changes to its dining services in recent years, looking to attract more students to the Sodexo-run venues. In the last two years, the University has scrapped vendors from J Street, such as Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A, and revamped its marketing efforts to boost sales.