Auburn University: Whose Meal Plan?

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Students at Alabama’s Auburn University are suing their school. Students argue that the school’s mandatory meal plan is unfair. According to an article by Kristen Letsinger the Opelika-Auburn News:

Students who live on campus must pay a minimum of $995 per semester for the dining plan. Those living off campus must pay at least $300 for the program.

“These fees are not tuition and not related to class instruction,” attorney John F. Whitaker of Whitaker, Mudd, Simms, Luke & Wells said in a statement. “Instead, these food fees are mandated because these state schools have agreed to give certain food vendors exclusive control over these student food purchases in exchange for millions of dollars being paid back to the school. The students themselves are given no option.”

The university says that the meal plans help students save money. According to an Auburn spokesman the public university put the plans “at less than half what students were spending on dining a day, realizing they would want to eat beyond campus as well.” Well that may be true but it looks like the meal plans also represent a huge cash cow for the university.

The $995 a semester meal plan doesn’t look like it’s particularly excessive, compared to other schools, though that mandatory $300 meal plan for students who don’t even live on campus certainly looks a little questionable. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer