Meal Plans Get Even More Expensive + New Sophomore Meal Plan Analyzed

In the past week, housing offers for Jackson as well as the exciting new sophomore meal plan options have been released. Like last year, the options have changed, but this time not only in price. The two new sophomore meal plan variants are Granite/Granite Plus and Ruby/Ruby Plus. Granite being $2,789 a semester for 10 meals a week and $250 in munch money, Granite Plus being $2,884 a semester for 10 meals a week and $400 in munch money. Breaking that down, (assuming 16 weeks per semester and subtracting the munch money from the price) Granite and Granite Plus end up being $15.35 per meal at Mines Market (not a great deal considering that you can get $10 per meal if you pay per meal without having a meal plan). The Ruby plan is $2,579 a semester for 8 meals a week and $500 in munch money and the Ruby Plus plan is $2,789 a semester for 8 meals a week and $710 in munch money. While the Ruby plans are cheaper than Granite per semester, the cost for the Ruby plan is $16.24 per meal. Here is a cost analysis of all the available meal plans:

PlanCostMeals per weekPrice per mealGuest mealsMunch moneyMeals per semester
Granite Plus$2,94210$15.890$400160
Quartz Plus$3,12114$12.213$350227
Marble Plus$3,19319$9.205$350309
Double Agate$8405$7.500$24080

Only sophomores living in the dorms (excluding Jackson) are required to get a sophomore meal plan. Some sophomores want meal plans to ease the transition out of the dorms and to make preparing/buying food less stressful. Although the Granite and Ruby plans are the official sophomore options, there are more budget friendly meal plans. Many of the soon to be sophomores who are living in Jackson or off campus are planning on getting commuter meal plans as they are more cost effective. The commuter meal plans are between $7.75 and $7.50 a meal at Mines Market with 40 or 80 meals per semester respectively and even if you don’t want a meal plan, you can still eat at Mines Market for $10 a meal if you pay by other means. Paying in cash is cheaper and more flexible than all but the commuter plans and the most expensive plans.

Often students wonder about the meal plan pricing and why meals are so expensive. After doing some research in the meeting minutes of the board of trustees, I discovered that it may have something to do with the way Mines pays its debt. In a 2018 board meeting, Kirsten M. Volpi, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer said, 

“Mines has a healthy, diverse way to pay debt with the majority of the debt being paid for by housing and dining revenues, and the general fund paying the least amount.”

This is interesting and leads to all sorts of questions, like what makes this a healthy and diverse way to pay debt, why did Mines choose to bundle the debt into housing and dining, do lower priced meal plans account for a higher percent of debt given that they are priced disproportionately higher than the more expensive plans, and why not pay for debt by raising tuition. Read the article in the next issue about the tentative removal of the cheapest freshman meal plan where we will hopefully find answers to these questions.

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