We now have declining plans that are a vast improvement over the ones we had last year. In the current system, upperclassmen can put any amount of money onto their declining plans, and the entirety of the amount they pay goes onto their declining balance.
So, if a junior decides to pay $350, they get $350 on their declining balance. This contrasts with last year’s plans, where half of your dining plan costs went to overhead fees, and only half actually went onto your declining balance.
The best feature of our current declining plans, though ? what has enticed so many upperclassmen into buying dining plans ? are the bonuses. Depending on how much declining you purchase, you receive a percentage bonus from the university.
If you’re a sophomore, and are required to spend $1200 per semester, you get 1,380 declining dollars. Last semester, if you paid $1200, $1380 would appear on your card. This semester, however, that is not the case.
This semester, your bonuses do not appear on your declining, and instead are in a separate bonus dollar account. Once you use up all of your declining dollars, then your bonus account activates.
Why should you have part of your declining dollars hidden from you in a separate account? I understand that, from the University’s perspective, there is a difference between the dollars we pay and the bonuses that they give us, but from a student’s perspective, it is all simply my declining dollars.
This semester I paid $900 for my dining plan, so there is $90 in my bonus account. I recently ate lunch, and when my balance flashed across the card swiper, the balance read about $720. However, I actually have $810 to spend.
The way I look at it, your declining balance should be how many declining dollars you have left, not a fraction of that. The system in place now serves to mislead the students. When you look at your declining balance you think you have that much money left.
Ask a few of your friends who have declining if they even know about their bonus accounts. Chances are, they won’t, and if they don’t know about it, they will never spend it.
As a student, you budget your declining. You know about how many dollars to spend each week and that is based on how much declining you have left. The bonus dollars will not be spent, because no one knows they’re there.
The university should return to last semester’s system and tell students how much money they have to spend. If this upsets you, feel free to contact your senator or me.
Mallach can be reached at email@example.com.