Return to Campus Updates and Coronavirus Information

Meal Plans

Traditional undergraduate students are required to have a meal plan to cover the cost of food on campus. Find out more about dining fees, discounts, and exemptions to meal plans.

Woman at salad bar

Northwestern offers a flex plan for all meal plans, which allows students more flexibility to purchase à la carte items in the main cafeteria and other locations. Flex plans give students more control over how and when they use their meal plan funds. The cost of each food item purchased is deducted from the student’s dining funds balance.

Dining Funds – these are the funds students use to purchase food in any of the dining locations on campus. Students receive a 20% discount at the cash register and are not subject to sales tax when paying with dining funds. Any student with a meal plan can add dining funds at any time during the semester for an additional cost.

Dining Fee – this fee covers utility costs, facility maintenance costs, equipment purchases and repairs, and administrative costs in the dining program.

A Residential Student is any student living in University of Northwestern residence halls.

A Commuter Student is any student living off-campus seeking a Traditional Undergraduate degree and taking 12 or more credits, including both traditional undergraduate and undergraduate pathways credits. Commuter Students seeking a traditional undergraduate degree who are taking fewer than 12 credits are not required to have a meal plan, but may choose to have a plan. PSEO students who are commuting are not required to have a meal plan, but may choose a PSEO meal plan.

First Year Students for Fall Semester will continue to be classified as First Year Students for Spring Semester. Students who begin as first year students in the Spring Semester will be considered First Year Students for Spring Semester only. Transfer students are not considered First Year Students.

Exceptions to Meal Plan Requirements

  • If a commuter student has class on campus fewer than 2 days per week, they may apply for an exemption.
  • Students with medical dietary restrictions should submit a Medical Dietary Accommodation Form to begin the process of determining the appropriate course for accommodation or exemption.

Questions about meal plan information? Please contact Jane Goedeke at 651-631-5107 or

2018–19 Meal Plan Requirements

Residential Students

Minimum Required FundsDining FeeCost per Semester
First Year Students$1,515$370$1,885
Other Students$1,065$320$1,385
Students 21 or older as of the first day of fall semester classes$235$54$289

Commuter Students

Full-time Commuter Students (12 or more credits, including both traditional undergraduate and undergraduate pathways credits)

Minimum RequiredDining FundsDining FeeTotal Cost per Semester
First Year$260$54$314

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