Columbus, OH

Meal plan: Understanding the different options on Columbus’ campus

The Lantern
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Dining hall meal plans consist of three payment options for meals and snacks: “visits,” dining dollars and BuckID cash. Credit: Soliyah Stevens-Ogaz

Incoming first-years on the Columbus campus might not understand the ins-and-outs of Ohio State yet, but learning to navigate campus’ 30 food locations and three dining plans is a good place to start.

Dining hall meal plans consist of three payment options for meals and snacks: “visits,” dining dollars and BuckID cash. Some plans are more flexible with these options than others, but they all follow the same rules.

Swipes or “visits”

Students swipe into three Traditions dining hall locations with their BuckID for self-service or to order meals on Grubhub , and each swipe counts as one visit. Students often use the term “swipes” instead of “visits,” but they’re interchangeable.

Traditions are located in Scott House, Morrill Tower and Kennedy Commons serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. From 8-10 p.m. Scott House and Kennedy will offer mobile order to-go services. After 8 p.m. students will need to order their meal on Grubhub and pick up at their selected location, according to the dining services website.

A single swipe at a dining hall costs $12 and $8 at campus restaurants. Students can use a swipe at a C-Store, or campus convenience stores, for $5.

Because visits do not roll over each week, some students who have swipes left over usually opt for a visit exchange at the end of the week, using the remaining money at C-Stores.

For example, instead of ordering a hot meal from Traditions, students can spend their $5 visit at a C-Store on snacks, drinks, candy or frozen meals.

Dining dollars

Dining Dollars can be used at the other 27 other dining locations of cafés, sandwich shops and C-stores.

Unlike visits, dining dollars roll over for the next year or semester and never expire while at Ohio State. Students, when using dining dollars, receive a 35 percent discount on the purchase at cafes or markets on campus, but 10 percent in C-Stores.

A student can use dining dollars on campus to enter dining halls if they run out of swipes. Also, money can be added to students’ dining dollar amount until they stop paying for a dining plan.

If a student spends more than a single $5 visit at a C-Store, they can use dining dollars for the remainder of the payment.

BuckID cash

BuckID cash is just like it sounds — money on your BuckID card. Similar to a debit card, students can load money into their account and spend it at locations on or off campus. Off-campus locations allowing BuckID cash will have a small sign with a BuckID photo to let patrons know it’s accepted.

These options can be mixed-and-matched when paying for meals on campus, and different plans have varying levels of flexibility.

Dining plans

First-and-second-years living on campus have three dining plan options: Traditions, Gray 10 and Scarlet 14.

Traditions, $2,172 per semester for incoming first-years, is the cheapest option. It includes  unlimited access to Traditions locations, but it lacks as much flexibility and variety as the other meal plans.

Traditions does not include the option to use a visit exchange at C-Stores, meaning if students want to visit a café or try another dining location, they can use their $100 in dining dollars per semester or pay out of pocket. BuckID cash is also not part of their plan, but can be uploaded.

The Gray 10, $2,226 per semester, and Scarlet 14, $2,651 per semester, are a bit more flexible. The plans are named after the number of visits to a Traditions dining hall each student is allowed per week: 10 or 14 visits, respectively.

Visits per week reset every Saturday at 3 a.m., so students with the Gray 10 or Scarlet 14 plans can’t use more than their allotted amount or save visits for the next week.

These two plans also allow for visit exchanges at C-Stores.

Students can also make changes to their dining plan until Sept. 2 online or by contacting Student Life University Housing at 614-292-8266.

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