Dining Dollars are a thing of the past at Savannah State University.
For students living on campus, there are few things as important as making sure a meal plan is secured. In years past, students had a strategy of purchasing the plan that had the best combination of meal swipes and Dining Dollars.
However, this year, the school has stopped offering plans with Dining Dollars. Joe Davis, director of dining services at Savannah State University, said the change is a result of policy at the University System of Georgia level.
This was before a decision was made by the state Board of Regents requiring all colleges to refund unused Dining Dollars at the end of each year.
Savannah State is not alone, “Almost every university in the Georgia system has stopped selling meal plans with dining dollars” Davis added.
At Savannah State, the on-campus meal times are from 6 a.m.- 11 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for lunch and 4 p.m.- 10 p.m. for dinner. Meal swipes’ value are based on the meal they are used: $4.35 for breakfast, $6.09 for lunch and $6.39 for dinner. However the majority of menus of on campus restaurants contain items more expensive than the swipe rate. In the past, Dining Dollars would be used to cover the remaining balance. For example, if a student got an extra bag of chips with their lunch and it went over the $6.09 limit, they would use Dining Dollars to make up the difference.
With Dining Dollars no longer available, students were forced to use cash or Flex Funds, which are non-refundable at the end of the year.
Davis said part of the decision had to do with refunds of Dining Dollars at the end of the school year.
“The university tried to continue selling Dining Dollars, but saw that each year the amount they were refunding increased,” Davis said. This indicated to administration that fewer students were using the extra money for food, as intended.
The school is recommending students use Flex Funds as an alternative to Dining Dollars. These funds can be loaded to a student account and used anywhere on campus, including the concession stands and the bookstore. Flex Funds can be added by phone or online to take the place of Dining Dollars.
Sophomore Malcolm Thompson, a business major, said, “It was more convenient for everybody,” when comparing this year and last years’ payment options.
However, the Flex Funds have their own set of issues for students.
“You’re told when you purchase these don’t put a whole lot on your card because you won’t be reimbursed,” Davis said.
Senior Jarius Chatman, a mass communication major, said, “It isn’t fair.” He was unaware of the Flex Funds option.
Students seemed largely unaware of the availability of Flex Funds and those who were aware, didn’t seem to be comfortable with the option, knowing there would be no refund for unused funds.