This Fall will be College Boy's last semester basically. In the Spring semester he will be working an internship away from campus so won't be attending classes or living at school.
The spending situation changes this coming school year too. He is no longer living on campus but renting a room in an apartment two friends of his share....so basically subletting from them(with permission from the landlord).
So no $4,900 per semester housing cost(which is the approximately cost of a dorm room configuration he use to get per semester).
How these schools can get off charging that sort of money for a dorm room is beyond me!
But I digress.....
So we are going from rent of $1,225 per month for a dorm room to $300 per month at this apartment. I know that $300 includes wifi/internet but even if we have to pay extra for electric and water(we don't have the deals on that yet), it's still a great deal by comparison!
As for his board(food)he no longer is required to have a meal plan.
We wasted so much money on meal plans over the last 3 years!
This child eats like a large snake. He'll eat a massive amount and then not eat again for 2 days(sunning himself on a large rock in the interim is optional). ;-) He also mostly eats at night and lives on coffee during the day.
He doesn't eat on a regular schedule and meal plans require you to do just that.
A 19 meals a week or 14 meals a week plan require you to eat many meals per week and if your student, say, only eats 12 meals in a particular week then you loose 7 or 2 meals(you are charged for them whether your student eats them or not). Meals on each of the 3 plans at CB's school(19 meals per week, 14 meals per week, 10 meals per week)equal out per meal to $6.12, $8.23 and $10.84(!!!)respectively.
We tried the 175 meal Block plan too which doesn't require to eat any particular number of meals per week. You get 175 meals for the semester and you eat them when you want to. The only problem with this plan is that he ran out of meals before the semester was over. I'll add that the per meal price on this plan equals out to $9.10 per meal....expensive but at least you know the student will eat all of these overpriced meals.
The pricing on these meal plans is such that they basically force you to select the most expensive plan since the only difference between the high end and the low plan is about $300 total.
Here's an article on the ridiculous cost of college meal plans HERE.
So I sat down with College Boy to talk about food for the upcoming semester.
He wants to try to do the bulk of his eating/cooking at his apartment(bringing a sandwich from his apartment during class days)but I know he'll probably forget or be too rushed some mornings so I've got to allow for buying pre-made options on campus.
There are various options at his school for dining on campus--
* The regular all-you-care-to-eat hall
* The food court hall(downstairs for the "AYCTE" dining hall) which is basically burgers, pizza, deli sandwiches and salad
* A coffee shop in the Alumni Hall
* An Einstein bagels franchise on campus in a dorm building
* A prepackaged food cart in a building near the gym
At first I thought, since he bought the bulk of his dining plan meals at the Einstein bagels locale(they accept dining scrip)instead of giving him cash or signing him up for a Senior dining plan($500 of flex cash)I'd just buy him a discounted Einstein Bagels gift card, which would save me the most $$.
But then I sat down with him and found out why he ate most of his meals at Einstein's. First off it was open until midnight whereas no other option(neither on campus or businesses off-campus)where open that late other than the bars. He is a nighttime grazer this one and with his schedule he would rarely get time to eat until after 11pm.
Secondly, Einstein's was the closest on campus option to his dorm room so it was also a convenience issue. Now that he won't be living in the dorms and nearby to the Einstein's I have to figure how likely is he this semester to eat there.
So we still have no ideal plan yet for the "buy your meal" part of this dining equation.
I thought perhaps buying his discounted gift cards to McDonald's and Pizza Hut as those are the two food places closest to his apartment for this Fall, but neither is open past 11 pm, even on weekends in this town.
The only grocery store option in town is Walmart(the town has NO grocery stores!)so that simplifies grocery needs. I can buy him a discounted gift card for groceries. The school runs a bus to Walmart and back so he can easily get there and buy what he needs.
I am thinking he "might" use the coffee shop options on campus and/or the satellite prepackaged "Simply To Go" locale for quick eats during the day as those two are near the building where he spends the bulk of his time(music building)so it would be worthwhile to buy him some school branded script instead of the "flex dollars". Flex is only good for food purchases and expires at the end of the term, where as the Script is good campus wide(at the bookstore, for fees, etc.)and never expires AND you can get a refund back of any unspent funds when you leave school/graduate.
I just don't want to hand College Boy a wad of cash this semester, intending it to be spent on food, and he ends up buying vape juice and using it to drink in the bars instead.
So after our "sit-down" we have decided to do this-when we take him back, take him to Walmart for an initial grocery buy(to supplement what I am hauling to school for him from my pantry stockpile) then give him a Walmart gift card($100, bought at a discount online of course!), load him a small amount of School-Branded "money" to use on campus($50) and give him a discounted gift card to either McDonald's or Pizza Hut($25).
After a month is over we'll evaluate the plan, see what he spent/didn't spend and adjust from there and see what the best plan is going forward.
So I have the beginnings of a plan for the Fall. We are "investing" $175 on his food needs to begin and will go from there. And I can bring down the costs more by stocking him with goods from home that I got cheaply and buying discounted gift cards online he can spend at his discretion.
I feel better, and so does my wallet, knowing I won't be spending between $1593 and $1928 per semester so the boy can eat!
Hell, at the cost of the 19 meal-a-week dining plan a full year of school comes out to $3856 for food for 1 student!
That's close to what I spent a couple of years ago on groceries for my entire family for the year!!
Just curious to know, if you have a kid in college, what does their school charge for meal plans?