The University has announced that it will require all sophomores to be on the unlimited meal plan beginning with the upcoming fall term. This move is a major shift from existing policy, in which only first-years are required to be on the unlimited plan, while sophomores can elect to purchase a variety of different meal plan options.
Deputy University spokesperson Mike Hotchkiss stated that the change is meant to foster more residential college-oriented experiences among underclassmen.
“For all students, but especially first-year and sophomore students, the residential college dining spaces are important centers of intellectual and social life on campus. With the Unlimited Plan, students can participate fully in the residential college experience,” Hotchkiss wrote in a statement to The Daily Princetonian.
Many students expressed dissatisfaction with the policy change.
“I think limiting the options that students have for eating plans limits the ability of students and their families to make decisions concerning their own finances when paying for Princeton,” said Scott Overbey ’21.
Overbey added that forcing students, especially those who receive little or no financial aid but whose families are still not affluent or financially sound, to pay more for an unlimited meal plan may be “an overlooked and negative consequence of the new University policy.”
Ayde Amir ’21 echoed Overbey’s disapproval, believing the plan posed an undue financial burden on students.
“Nobody should be forced to pay for something they don’t need,” she said. “Two swipes is more than enough for me. If I had more it would just be a waste of money because I wouldn’t end up using them.”
Diego Ayala-McCormick ’22, who had been looking forward to saving money next year by going off the unlimited plan, was disappointed by the change.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “The cost per meal is exorbitant.”
Other first-years applauded the change. Zachariah Sippy ’22 said the plan “eliminates food insecurity for poor students attempting to cut back on meal plans and save money.”
Sippy is an opinion writer for the ‘Prince.’
Robin Moscato, the Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid, attempted to dispel concerns that the plan will raise students’ out-of-pocket costs. In an email to the ‘Prince’, she claimed the unlimited plan is already accounted for in the student budget for current first-years.
“The student budget for first-year and sophomore aid students includes a board allowance that is equal to the unlimited plan cost, which is consistent with the policy. The aid office does not set residency requirements,” Moscato wrote.
Starting spring term in 2020, sophomore students who join eating clubs or one of the four ODUS-sponsored co-ops will receive a $200 cash rebate. Any requests for exceptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The Office of Communications confirmed that this new policy will not involve any changes to dining hall operations.