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Tips For Managing What’s Left Of Your Meal Plan

There are two types of students: the ones who come close to running out of meal points at the near end of each semester and the ones who have so many meal points they don’t know what to do with.

Once you reach the end of the semester, you might find yourself struggling to manage your meal plan. Perhaps you’re trying to savor those remaining dining dollars, or maybe you’re flushed with cash and worried about wasting it all before the semester ends.

No matter where you land, we’ve got tips and options to help you out.

So, You’re Broke…

Beg Your Parents To Fill Up Your Lion Cash

Like a meal plan, LionCash allows you to make purchases at the dining commons or the HUB using your student ID. LionCash is also accepted at dozens of restaurants downtown. If you’re feeling desperate and have generous parents, this is always a nice option.

LionCash is an especially attractive option since you can add any custom amount. So, if you need just a small boost to make it through finals week, you can adjust rather than overpaying for the next meal plan tier.

Actually Eat In The Dining Hall

It’s plain and simple: When you use your meal plan in the dining hall, you’re getting 65% off. That $9 cheesesteak magically turns to a $3 sandwich with one swipe of your student ID.

If you’re strapped for cash, quit blowing your meal points in the markets or downtown and actually try to eat in the dining hall. You’d be surprised how much farther you can stretch your dining dollars if you’re using them on, you know…dining. Options like all-you-can-eat buffets should help fill you up if you’re hoping to get the biggest bang for your buck, you know?

Stall Stories

In most dorm bathrooms, there’s a flyer on the wall called “Stall Stories” that promotes upcoming events at each campus. Most of the time, those events will have ice cream from the Creamery, pizza from the dining halls, mock-mimosas, or even carnival food. You can’t beat free food. It’s the cheapest option!

Go On A Strict Ramen Diet

You can get ramen noodles pretty much anywhere, even in the dining hall markets. Ramen is one of the cheapest food options you can get and is typically under $2. You might get bored, but you surely won’t be broke.

Rewards Programs

Many places downtown, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, and Starbucks, offer rewards programs through which you can earn points and coupons on every purchase. With the McDonalds’s App, an order of 10-piece chicken nuggets is only $2 with the right voucher. With the Dunkin’ app, every 200 points you spend, you get a free drink. You get the idea.

Use Your Friends

It’s safe to say that at least one of your friends is flushed with cash as the semester nears its end. If you beg enough they’re nice enough, you just might get to mooch off of their meals and perhaps land some free food.

So, You’ve Got To Blow Those Meal Points

Stock Up On Creamery Goodies

This is a no-brainer. If you’re heading home for the summer and have a remaining meal plan burning a hole in your pocket, you need to stop by the Creamery. Stock up on ice cream pints, coffee, snacks, and anything else you might need. Bring a cooler to keep everything fresh to truly make those dining dollars count. You’ll thank yourself later.

Starbucks Cups & Mugs

At the Starbucks in the HUB, shelves are filled with seasonal cups for iced drinks that are perfect for tailgates. They also have mugs of various designs and sizes for hot drinks. They could even be used for a birthday or Mother’s Day gift. The best part? You can use your meal points and LionCash.

Oversized Snacks

At almost every market resides a huge Rice Krispie Treat bar that can probably last you a week or two. If you can’t take the whole thing down yourself, you could even get one to share with your friends. Regardless, go big with your purchases to maximize value and perhaps share with your less-fortunate study buddies. They’ll thank you later.

Buy Your Friends Food

Do you have a friend in need? Someone who is in dire need of food because they ran out of points too soon? Share the wealth and buy them food from the markets or Flipps.

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About the Author

Evan Halfen

Evan Halfen is a junior broadcast journalism major from Newark, DE, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, being loud, just about any beach, and his puppies, Butterscotch and Wentzy. You can direct all your tips, roasts, and jokes to his Instagram: @evan.halfen or email: [email protected]

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