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All Jokes Aside: Meal plans are a cool way to confuse students out of money

Students eat at Scott Dining hall on campus. Credit: Lantern file photo

Ricky Mulvey and Seth Shanley are members of the Buckeye Standup Comedy Club and joke-loving columnists for The Lantern. Mulvey is a fourth-year in finance and Shanley is a second-year in journalism.

The holidays are coming up and if you are an underclassman, Ohio State is forcing the most wonderful gift of all upon you: a mandatory meal plan that makes no financial sense.

The best meal plan Ohio State offers is for upperclassmen living off-campus, though. It is called the Carmen 2 and, amazingly, offers zero economic benefit when compared to the Carmen 1 plan. Carmen 2 is also more expensive than Carmen 1. This gives the students who buy the Carmen 2  plan a valuable lesson about budgeting after being fleeced by the university for an additional $402.

To illustrate, Carmen 1 costs $422 and you receive 277 Dining Dollars — which is almost exactly 35 percent less than what you paid. Carmen 2 costs $824 for 536 Dining Dollars — which is 35 percent less than what you paid. It’s like magic!

Some meal plans include weekly dining hall visits that do not roll over, an ingenious strategy.

Over 10 weeks, Ohio State pocketed almost $2 million from students who were stupid enough to neglect dining hall visits. Before you point the finger at Ohio State for not letting students roll over dining hall visits, point the finger at yourself for going home during Thanksgiving break. You knew you had extra trips at Scott to use.

Dining Dollars are objectively the best part of any meal plan. Ohio State sells them for 35 percent higher than their value so it doesn’t matter that students get a 35 percent discount for on-campus food purchases. This gives you the feeling of a discount even though you aren’t actually getting one; like Black Friday, but every day.

Meal plans that include Dining Dollars give lucky students the privilege to pay a 25 percent premium at any campus convenience store, or C-Store (Ohio State claims you get a 10 percent discount, but they neglect the 35 percent premium you pay on a Dining Dollar). This shows Ohio State’s best fundraising strategy because they advertise Dining Dollars as a way to save money on C-Store purchases like Ramen and Advil.

For example, four tablets of Advil costs $2.50 at the Scott Commons C-Store and the true price jumps up to $3.13 if you are smart enough to pay with Dining Dollars. The same product is $2.19 at the UDF on High Street.

The university overcharges you (student with a headache) for medicine and then makes you (idiot) think it was discounted.

Consider this, maybe the reason Ohio State has to call your parents for donations is that you are not buying enough Ramen — at a price more than other retail stores — at C-Stores. This is your fault.

Ohio State does not just love its students with its pricing, but also the food and drink it provides. For example, University Dining Services shows its affection for undergraduates by charging Starbucks-level prices for light-roast sewer water from Crimson Cup. No other company brings you the taste of the Olentangy River.

Sure, Ohio State could use its immense pile of resources to make food plans reasonable, but that is a stupid idea when you remember we can spend that money on a clock tower, iPads for incoming freshmen and dabbing Brutus hats.

Some say Ohio State’s meal plan system is unnecessarily complex and exploitative, but complex and exploitative meal plans transform students into true Buckeyes. Being overcharged for necessities of life is a part of the college experience.

Go Bucks!

Editor’s Note: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of The Lantern. The views expressed are solely that of the columnists.

One comment

  1. Classic OSU.

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