FAQ

I'm a first year student.  Am I required to have a Dining Plan?

How can I confirm my online dining plan selection?

When does my dining plan begin?

What if I want to make changes to my dining plan?

What are Dining Dollar$ and where can I use them?

How does my dining plan work?

How do I use my swipes and Dining Dollar$?

Can I take food out of the Dining Hall?

What is Meal Equivalency?

Can I have a dining plan that is only Dining Dollar$?

Can I get a refund for swipes I don't use?

What happens to my visits and Dining Dollar$ if I change during the mid-year switch period?

How can I find out how many swipes or Dining Dollar$ I have left and what can I do if I run out?

Can I use my dining plan swipes for other people?

What if I want to cancel my dining plan?

What if I have special dietary or nutritional needs?

What if I keep kosher?

What if I want to eat in the dining halls and I don't have a dining plan?

What if I lose my PennCard?

Who can I contact if I have a comment or suggestion?

I'm a first year student.  Am I required to have a Dining Plan?

Freshman – Freshman are required to sign-up for one of the three First-Year Dining Plans. Students have until June 18 to select a plan, if you have not signed-up by that date we will automatically assign freshmen to the Best Food Fit dining plan, our most popular plan. Students wishing to change their dining plan after June 18 may do so during the Fall Change Period, August 30 through September 18.
Transfer - First year transfer students are required to sign-up for a dining plan choosing from any of the first-year or upperclass plans. If students do not select a plan by mid-August, they will automatically be enrolled in the Best Food Fit dining plan prior to move-in.
Exchange – Exchange students are required to sign-up for a dining plan choosing from any of the first-year or upperclass plans. If students do not select a plan by mid-August, they will automatically be enrolled in the Best Food Fit dining plan prior to move-in.

How can I confirm my online dining plan selection?

You will receive a confirmation email after you sign up online at Campus Express. You can also view your dining plan under the My Dining tab on Campus Express Online. If you do not receive the email or do not see your purchase in Campus Express, please contact the Penn Dining office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for confirmation. As a first-year student, you also can confirm your dining plan at The Campus Express Center in Houston Hall during New Student Orientation.

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When does my dining plan begin?

New students (freshman, transfer, and exchange) arriving for NSO on August 25th are provided with most meals through an NSO dining plan which is part of the New Student Orientation experience.

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What if I want to make changes to my dining plan?

Dining plan changes are allowed once per semester during the official switch periods. Changes will be accepted August 30 through September 18 for the Fall 2016 term and January 11 through January 31 for the Spring 2017 term. You may change your dining plan once during the switch period via Campus Express and we encourage students to wait at least a week after classes begin before deciding to change plans. If you would like to add swipes or Dining Dollar$ to your current plan, you may do so at any time.

Please note: Any additional charge or refund due as the result of a dining plan change will be based on the current rates regardless of whether the initial sign-up was during a promotional period.

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What are Dining Dollar$ and where can I use them?

Dining Dollar$ are part of a dining plan. They are funds on your PennCard used to purchase items at any Bon Appétit at Penn Dining location. With each purchase made, the amount is deducted electronically from your Dining Dollar$ account balance. Undergraduates with dining plans and graduate students may add Dining Dollar$ to their PennCard at any time on Campus Express.

You can use them to purchase a la carte items at our retail operations, including:

  • 1920 Retail located at 38th and Locust Walk: Starbucks and the Gourmet Grocer
  • Tortas Frontera at the ARCH Café
  • Joe's Café at SHDH
  • Mark’s Café – Van Pelt Library, Lower level
  • Accenture Cyber Café – Towne Building
  • McClelland Express in the Quad
  • Houston Market
  • Bridge and Plaza Cafés - Huntsman Hall
  • Farmers' Market - University Square, 36th and Walnut St., Wednesdays, September through early November

Please note: Dining Dollar$ can be used in place of swipes at our all-you-care-to-eat locations as well. The door rate when using Dining Dollar$ is as follows:

  • Breakfast - $9.00
  • Brunch/Lunch - $12.75
  • Dinner - $18.00

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How does my dining plan work?

All dining plans provide a specific quantity of swipes to the all-you-care-to-eat dining cafés for the semester. These can be used at any time. All plans also include Dining Dollar$ for use at any of our dining locations. Students have the option to add swipes or Dining Dollar$ to their plan at any time throughout the academic year by visiting Campus Express.

Please note: Swipes and Dining Dollar$ are split by semester, you will receive one-half of the allotted amount of swipes and Dining Dollar$ in the Fall, and the other half in the Spring. Any remaining swipes at the end of the Fall semester will not be added to the swipes you receive for the Spring. Dining Dollar$ will roll over from the Fall semester to the Spring semester, but expire on Commencement day.

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How do I use my swipes and Dining Dollar$?

Your dining plan is encoded on your University ID (PennCard). When you present this card to the cashier at a dining location, your swipes or Dining Dollar$ will be deducted from your account. Due to certain University closures during the year, dining locations are closed as well and therefore neither swipes nor Dining Dollar$ can be used. Please visit our website regularly for the most up-to-date information regarding hours of operation.

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Can I take food out of the Dining Hall?

Yes you can with out "Green 2 Go" program!

Our dining plans were designed to provide maximum flexibility for students to enjoy our cafés. In addition to offering a variety of dining options, our all-you-care-to-eat facilities help foster a sense of campus community by allowing students to dine together. However, should you need to, there is a take-out option in the dining halls. For more information, click here.

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What is Meal Equivalency?

Meal equivalency allows students to use a swipe to purchase a bundle of items (entrée, side, beverage, dessert) from select retail locations. Meal Equivalency is available at Gourmet Grocer, McClelland Express, Hill Express, and Falk Kosher Dining.

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Can I have a dining plan that is only Dining Dollar$?

An all Dining Dollar$ plan is available to upperclass and graduate students. Visit our Dining Plan page for more information!

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Can I get a refund for swipes I don't use?

Visits to the all-you-care-to-eat dining cafés are non-refundable and we do not offer reimbursement. If you find that you are not using enough of your visits and you are eligible to do so, you have the option of changing your dining plan during our plan change periods (see details and related policy information below).

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What happens to my swipes and Dining Dollar$ if I change during the mid-year switch period?

If you switch to a different dining plan during the dining-switch period, the number of swipes and Dining Dollar$ you have used will be subtracted from your new plan.

Regardless of what dining plan you have or whether or not you change your dining plan, all Dining Dollar$ carry over from the Fall semester to the Spring semester and expire on Commencement Day. All swipes expire at the end of the Fall semester and on the last day of finals in the Spring semester.

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How can I find out how many swipes or Dining Dollar$ I have left and what can I do if I run out?

Every time your card is swiped to use a meal swipe or Dining Dollar$, the remaining balance will come up on the card reader screen. You can also check your current balance of Dining Dollar$ and swipes when you log-in to Campus Express Online and click on ‘My Dining’. Students may purchase Dining Dollar$ online in any amount at Campus Express or by visiting the Penn Dining office. Students may also purchase additional meal blocks of 25 online.

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Can I use my dining plan swipes for other people?

Yes you can! Every dining plan participant can use up to 10 of their swipes per academic year, 5 per semester, to bring guests into 1920 Commons, Hill House, English College House, and Falk Kosher Dining Commons. Guest Swipes are included in the total number of visits for the academic year.

Please note: Graduate Take Your Pick plans do not include guest swipes. You are still able to take guests to any location to dine with you by paying the door rate for the meal period with your Dining Dollars

Dining Dollar$ Door Rates:

  • Breakfast - $9.00
  • Brunch/Lunch - $12.75
  • Dinner - $18.00

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What if I want to cancel my dining plan?

Cancellations are not permitted unless you are leaving the University for one of the following reasons, Leave of Absence, Withdrawal, Study Abroad, Graduation, or Fall Exchange Students (cancellation for spring semester only). If you are leaving the University and need to cancel your dining contract, you MUST complete a cancellation form.

Dining plan cancellations will only be granted when the student officially withdraws from the University. Please review the Terms & Conditions for more information regarding cancellations, including cancellations for medical reasons.

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What if I have a special dietary need or nutritional need?

We encourage students to email Daniel Connolly, our Registered Dietitian, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to discuss dietary needs and food allergies. He will work with our Executive Chefs to meet your needs in the best way possible. Additionally, our Executive Chefs are knowledgeable resources and welcome questions and concerns from guests regarding ingredients and preparation of our meals. For more information, please visit the Health & Wellness section of the website.

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What if I keep kosher?

Then we have just the thing to meet your needs! Penn Dining has the premiere Glatt kosher dining facility in the Philadelphia area, Falk Kosher Dining Commons located in Steinhardt Hall. For Shabbat dinner on Friday night and for Cholent lunch on Saturday, fixed price family style and boxed dinners will be available, reservations are encouraged. Students can use swipes, Dining Dollar$ PennCash, SFS or cash. For freshmen who wish to keep kosher on a regular basis, Penn Dining will work with you individually on a plan that best supports your needs. Upperclass students should consider our ATM Plan which is Dining Dollar$ only.   For additional information regarding kosher dining at Penn, please contact the Penn Dining office at 215-898-3547 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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What if I want to eat in the dining halls and I don't have a dining plan?

If you do not want to purchase a dining plan, but would still like to eat a meal at a dining location, you can pay as you go. Methods of payment accepted include PennCash, SFS credit, Visa, MasterCard, and cash. Dining plans do offer savings, however, and paying with Dining Dollar$ will also enable you to dine in an all-you-care-to-eat facility at a discounted rate.

Door rates for all-you-care-to-eat:

Dining Dollar$

  • Breakfast - $9.00
  • Brunch/Lunch - $12.75
  • Dinner - $18.00

All other forms of payment

  • Breakfast - $10.25
  • Brunch/Lunch - $14.00
  • Dinner - $19.00

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What if I lose my PennCard?

You must visit the PennCard Center, located on the second floor of the Penn Bookstore (36th & Walnut), to obtain a new ID card immediately (replacement fees apply). Without a PennCard, you are not guaranteed entrance to any secure campus building without some form of ID.  Students who have lost or misplaced their PennCard may enter the dining halls by first completing a Lost Card Voucher obtained from the cashier. The visits will be deducted from your dining plan and a processing charge of $2.00 will be billed to your SFS account for each voucher used. The voucher is valid only for visits covered under your dining plan. Additional visits will be billed to your SFS account.

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Who can I contact if I have a comment or suggestion?

We welcome customer feedback! Please feel free to email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call us at (215) 898-3547.

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