You get lured in at Preview — the promise of unlimited meals, the ability to use your swipe at Moe's and the sheer number of Chick-fil-A's on campus. Then, halfway through the semester, you start to wonder why the dish you picked up at Fresh Food Company looks nothing like that chimichurri steak you got at Preview. Is a meal plan at UF really worth it? 


The meal plan absolutely has its benefits. For many freshmen, living on campus limits the ability to cook. A mini-fridge can only hold so much, and you never want to be that jerk who makes the whole floor smell like fish.

Even without the unlimited meal plan, it is still pretty simple to eat all day. If you have a day off of class, or at least a long block between classes, there is no rule stating that you can't camp out in the dining hall and eat whenever you want. When I had my meal plan, I watched many guys clean their plates after picking one up from every station. And for most students, the pizza is at least acceptable, and it's a safe choice.

The on-campus options that allow the use of meal swipes aren't bad. The $6 limit at Pollo Tropical and Moe's can be a bit of a downer, since it can cause you to miss out on something you would rather have. But you aren't excluded from the dependable, protein-packed options.

pepper, vegetable, corn, onion, meat, tomato
McKenzie Islin


On the flip side, the better places and options are conveniently excluded from the swipes. Chick-fil-A is a flex bucks or cash only spot. When I first fell in love with the food at Einstein's, I signed away my remaining flex bucks.

Not to mention, the meal plan is really expensive. While the price is controlled by factors I don't understand, it is still more money than you would probably spend cooking for yourself. When comparing convenience to cost, the choice is more personal.

If you have a meal plan, you are locked into the payments at least until the end of spring semester. However, there is always the option of deferring to declining balance. The payments are made as usual, but the amount of the money gets loaded into your declining balance account. Declining money spends like cash at any location on campus, and does not expire. If you even have money leftover at graduation, you can request a refund.