Meal plans are required for all ABAC first-year students, and they are far too expensive, sitting at around 1,545 dollars per semester. Food is one of the easiest ways to waste or save money. Forcing freshmen to pay upwards of 1,500 dollars per semester (or over 3,000 dollars annually) is a terrible idea.
Eating at the dining hall costs anywhere from eight to twelve dollars, depending on if you get a take-out plate or not. It’s far wiser to buy your own food and cook it in your dorm if you live on campus. But, there are only microwave options in the freshman dorms.
If you live with your parents and commute (like many students do) you can bring your own lunch from home, and then eat on campus once for a bit over eight dollars. If you only ate at the dining hall once a day for 4 months (or one semester) every day with no meal plan, it would come out to about 1050 dollars. This allows students to save over 500 dollars that can go towards other things like gas (which is getting more and more expensive these days), textbooks, and whatever else they need to succeed. If you live on campus, the dorms come equipped with everything you need to cook your own food. You can save loads of money by doing this, and still be able to eat very healthy and delicious meals
In a worst-case scenario where you don’t know how to cook, don’t have the time, and live on campus, getting a meal plan is a great idea. What’s important is that it’s a voluntary decision that fits your specific circumstances.
College is expensive, that’s undebatable. Many people come to ABAC with Pell and Hope scholarships who can’t afford to spend exorbitant amounts of money on college. We students are already shelling out money for housing, gas, textbooks, and other school-related expenses. Anything the college can do to lower the amount of money it takes to attend is a good thing in the long run.
This would allow more people to get the education they need to join the workforce. Requiring freshmen to purchase a meal plan would not only raise the monetary bar to attend ABAC, but it could discourage newcomers and people looking for a college to attend. ABAC is a great place to get an education in many different fields. Requiring a meal plan for freshmen could have very large consequences for attendance, morale, and student/parent stress for short-term monetary gain. All in all, I hope that ABAC won’t require meal plans for freshmen. It’s just a bad idea.
Photo via Abraham Baldwin Agricultural college